Publisher: University of Illinois Press
Released: August 14, 2018
The image of the anarchist assassin haunted the corridors of power and the popular imagination in the late-nineteenth century. Fear spawned a gross but persistent stereotype: a swarthy "Italian" armed with a bloody knife or revolver and bred to violence by a combination of radical politics, madness, innate criminality, and poor genes. That Italian anarchists targeted—and even killed—high-profile figures added to their exaggerated, demonic image.
Nunzio Pernicone and Fraser Ottanelli dig into the transnational experiences and the historical, social, cultural, and political conditions behind the phenomenon of anarchist violence in Italy. Looking at political assassinations in the 1890s, they illuminate the public effort to equate anarchy's goals with violent overthrow. Throughout, Pernicone and Ottanelli combine a cutting-edge synthesis of the intellectual origins, milieu, and nature of Italian anarchist violence with vivid portraits of its major players and their still-misunderstood movement. A bold challenge to conventional thinking, Assassins against the Old Order demolishes a century of myths surrounding anarchist violence and its practitioners.