No. 1 Scapegoat

John Foot

A bearded man lies flat on his back, arms wide apart, in a field. He has one leg. Nearby, some wires hang from the base of an electricity pylon, to which a box seems to be attached. The man is Giangiacomo Feltrinelli, 46 years old, a political militant, publisher and millionaire. The photo was taken on 15 March 1972. For more than two years Feltrinelli had been on the run from the Italian authorities. His death made headlines around the world. Many claimed that he had been murdered; others denounced him as a terrorist. The headline on the front page of Potere Operaio (‘Workers’ Power’) announced: ‘A Revolutionary Has Fallen’. Carlo Feltrinelli’s book is an attempt to explain how his father, a member of one of the richest families in Italy, ended up in that field, next to that pylon; but Carlo was ten when his father died, and it is evident that he is also working through difficult and fragmentary memories of an absent, neglectful and very famous father.

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