A Chill in the Air by Iris Origo

A short, but fascinating first-hand account of life in Italy during the build-up to Italy’s entry into the Second World War.

According to Origo, most Italians hated Hitler (and Germans) and wanted no part of fighting alongside Nazis. They truly believed only Mussolini – master negotiator, force of nature and god among men – could and would keep them out of it. Fascism was popular and democracy derided, particularly in the pro-German/anti-British propaganda in Italian newspapers. Knowing now how badly things ended for Italians, Origo’s continual hunt for signs that they’d escape the war is all the more heartbreaking.

Maybe if high school history classes focused more on gripping, first-hand accounts like this one and less on deadly boring textbooks, we wouldn’t be doomed to repeat the same stupid political cycles over and over.

Highly recommended.