John Foot

John Foot’s history of Italian fascism, Blood and Power, will be published in June.

In May​ 1937, troops under Italian command moved into the remote area around the monastery of Debre Libanos in Ethiopia. They had been sent there by Rodolfo Graziani, one of the commanders of the Italian invasion of the country in October 1935 and now the viceroy of Italian East Africa. In February 1937 he had survived an assassination attempt in Addis Ababa. In retaliation, the Italians...

From The Blog
12 January 2022

The Colston Four admitted fully to their role in toppling the statue but pleaded not guilty to criminal damage. Their case went to a jury trial at Bristol Crown Court. The prosecution argued that the four were common criminals who had damaged property. Colston, they said, was ‘irrelevant’ to the trial. The defence, however, turned the case into a ten-day history lesson, calling the historian David Olusoga as a witness. The jury heard in detail about the horrors of slavery – the rapes, the murders, the branding, the trafficking of children – and about the statue itself: even when it was put up, nobody really wanted it. The defence argued that the statue was a ‘hate crime’. They also pointed out that the total cost of the damage caused by toppling it and dragging it along the pavement was only £3750.

On the Barone

John Foot, 4 March 2021

In September​ the Uruguayan footballer Luis Suárez turned up at the Università per Stranieri in Perugia to take an Italian test. This tough language exam, a requirement for anybody seeking Italian citizenship, was introduced by Matteo Salvini, the far-right leader of the anti-immigrant Lega, when he was interior minister in 2019. Suárez passed. There were rumours that he...

From The Blog
23 February 2021

Around fifteen years ago, a story emerged about Bartali’s activities during the Nazi occupation of Italy. It was said that the great cyclist had saved dozens, perhaps hundreds, perhaps even thousands of Jewish lives, by cycling the eighty-odd miles between Florence, where he lived, and Assisi, a node in an underground network that helped to protect Jews, with forged documents hidden in his bicycle frame.

Pinzolo is a sleepy Alpine resort in northern Italy, about an hour’s drive from Trento. Today, it is a prosperous place, living off winter and summer tourism, but for most of the last century this was an area of extreme poverty, and many of those who lived in the valley were forced to emigrate. There is a statue of a knife-grinder in the town, a monument to the job most of these...

Franco Basaglia regarded the asylum itself as the problem. As a logical extension of the authoritarian society that had built it, it was irredeemable, and even an improved version – a ‘golden cage’...

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