This is not really a biography at all but an examination of why Garibaldi became this extraordinary hero who could, almost single-handedly, overthrow the Bourbon Kingdom of Two Sicilies.
Riall's thesis is that Garibaldi was invented by Mazzini to fit the current model of a romantic hero. Taking the cue from Walter Scott's historical romances and other romantic fiction, Mazzini and Garibaldi together concocted a persona that was based on the real man but meant much more. Mazzini then used the exploding new medium of journalism to propagandise Garibaldi even whilst he was still a revolutionary gaucho in Montevideo. Garibaldi also took past in this project of mythologisation with his speeches, his writings and,above all, a carefuly cultivated dress. Riall points out that after the disasted of Rome, when Garibaldi tried to get a job with the regular armed forces of Piedmont, Garibaldi's dress was as befitted a slightly elderly middle class general.But when he went on this pirated ship to capture Sicily with his Thousand the last thing he did before stepping aboard was to change his clothes to his trademark red shirt,feathered hat and poncho. Garibaldi manufactured and cultivated his brand and, Riall maintains, this was the secret of his success.
He was the romantic hero come to life.
An intriguing hypothesis but is you want a book about Garibaldi I would start elsewhere.
July 2009, 392 pages
- I live in Bedford, England. Having retired from teaching; I am now a research student at the University of Bedfordshire researching into Threshold Concepts in the context of A-level Physics. I love reading! I enjoy in particular fiction (mostly great and classic fiction although I also enjoy whodunnits), biography, history and smart thinking. I have also recently become a keen playgoer to London Fringe Theatre. I enjoy mostly classics and I read the playscripts and add those to the blog. I am a member of Bedford Writers' Circle. See their website here: http://bedford-writers.co.uk/ Follow me on twitter: @daja57