Foreword by Richard Washburn Child, former US Ambassador to Italy. First published in 1928 as La Mia Vita, this book was Mussolini’s autobiography written upon request of the American Ambassador in Rome, and was compiled from notes dictated to his brother Arnaldo. This intensely personal account covers Mussolini’s life up to 1929 and contains his thoughts on Italian politics, and includes the text of some of his most famous speeches in the Italian Parliament.
It starts with a brief family history before quickly moving on to its core subject: How Mussolini built the Fascist movement out of a militia founded at the end of the First World War to avert Italy plunging into Bolshevist chaos. Mussolini spells out his ideological background, sparing no details on his socialist political origins, the creation of his principal propaganda organ, the Il Popolo d’Italia newspaper, and the founding of the Fasci Italiani di Combattimento.
He then discusses the violent Communist attacks upon his own person and the multiple murders committed by the Italian Bolshevists, showing how this violence necessitated the “fighting Fascists” units which gradually converted themselves into the National Fascist Party—for which Mussolini was first elected to the Italian parliament in 1921.
He then describes the growth of his party, and the dramatic 1922 March on Rome, when 30,000 black-shirted followers gathered in the capital city to protest a series of weak governments which had driven the nation to the brink of bankruptcy and national humiliation. The protests—quite incorrectly portrayed by critics as a “seizure of power”—ended with the Italian king appointing Mussolini as Prime Minister and the latter going on to form a democratic coalition government with centrists and conservatives.
Finally, Mussolini discusses in the last section what his government had achieved over the first five years of its existence, and speculates on what the future might hold.
Together with his 1944 companion volume History of a Year, this book represents Mussolini’s thoughts at their most personal and revealing, and is essential reading for anyone wishing to understand this turbulent period of history.