Italy. By Robert Sencourt. (Arrowsmith, 3s.
6d.) Reviewed by FR. A. R. BIRLEY
AN already noticeable result of the recent crisis is an increasing willingness of English people to be informed about the Europe of which they have found themselves so intimate a part. The old insular security seems to have passed for good whatever Cabinet ministers may say, and with it a great deal of insular prejudice and insular ignorance. There is less inclination to damn another people because of its failure to find Parliamentary democracy best suited to its needs, rather, in fact, the sobering realisation that some form of " fascism " will be necessary in England if we are to remain a first-class power and thus retain the present high standard of living.
Mr. Sencourt's Italy takes its place with Mr. Belgion's News of the French and Mr. Derrick's The Portugal of Salazar as a valuable piece of informative writing on
the Europe of today. He prefaces his description of modern Fascist Italy with an extremely able historical introduction in which he devotes a large amount of space to the " scandalously ineffective government " of post-unification Italian parliamentarianism, to a true, fair and generous account of Italy's sacrifices and heroic efforts in the Great War and to the three main causes of Mussolini's Machiavellian foreign policy: the betrayal of Italy by the allies at Versailles, the emigration problem and the poverty of Italy in essential raw materials.
There follows a lucid exposition of the corporative system as modern Italy's political as well as social and economic way of life, while Mr. Sencourt lays due stress on the important part played by the Church, the House of Savoy and the Army in exercising a strong moderating influence on Mussolini, a point of view which is becoming more and more general since these three powers seem to have been the decisive factor in sending Mussolini to Munich to mediate, or, in other words, to say: " No war with England!"
* * * * Whatever the appearances, the present foreign policy of Italy is directed towards peace : "She still preserves," says Mr. Sencourt, "a solicitude for Europe, desiring to enfold it in what Pliny called the might and majesty of the peace of Rome." Pax Romana-the day Mr. Sencourt's book was published, General Balbo was leading a peaceful fleet of peasant settlers to Libya to build up new homes and farms on African soil, a picture of all that is best and most excellent in Italian Fascism and a significant illustration of the conception of Augustan peace, so uppermost in Italian minds today. to which even the somewhat bellicose Signor Gayda devoted a brilliant leader in the Giornale d'Italia not so very long ago.
Mr. Sencourt's book, if it receives the support it deserves, should do a great deal to improve Anglo-Italian understanding, just because an understanding will only be genuine if based on the accurate information which Mr. Sencourt supplies leading to a friendly and sympathetic appreciation of another country's history, patriotic aspirations and natural way of life, both for the individual and the nation.