Supreme Kidnap

James Fox

  • Fortune’s Hostages by Caroline Moorehead
    Hamish Hamilton, 256 pp, £8.95, January 1980, ISBN 0 241 10320 7

The readers of the Italian weekly L’Espresso (swaying in the breeze like a field of ripe corn) were treated, in their issue of 20 January, to a new form of journalistic entertainment – a media package for the Eighties. Wrapped into the cellophane cover was a gramophone record, featuring a conversation between a member of the Red Brigades and Aldo Moro’s daughter, in which she is given one last chance for her father’s release. This is followed by another conversation – the last in a series of calls from another of Moro’s captors, ‘Professor Niccolai’, telling Moro’s best friend, on the day he was killed, where to pick up the corpse. You hear the friend sobbing and making great efforts to speak. He is told that Moro’s last wish was that he take the news to Moro’s family. ‘I can’t,’ he says. ‘You can’t,’ says Niccolai, as if discussing a grocery delivery. His bureaucratic style creates a repugnant sense of cruelty and inhumanity as he gives directions: first left, second right, the body is in the boot. ‘Va bene?’

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