Books: Two Views of a Little Caesar

MUSSOLINI by Denis Mack Smith; Knopf; 429pages; $20

MUSSOLINI by Anthony James Joes; Watts; 405 pages; $18.95

May 1938: the Duce was entertaining the Führer with a grand show of Italy's naval might. Dozens of warships steamed across the Bay of Naples, and, like precision swimmers, 85 submarines dived beneath the water, resurfacing eight minutes later in perfect formation to fire an eleven-gun tribute to their Nazi guest. It was a dazzling display from a master of spectacle, but like most other things Benito Mussolini did, this muscle flexing was little more than an act:...

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