Stars, Stripes, and Italian Tricolor: The United States and Italy, 1946-1989

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This groundbreaking review and analysis of relations between the United States and Italy since the early postwar years is distinguished by the author's use of a unique combination of sources: hundreds of reports and analyses published by the author in U.S. and Italian dailies and magazines as events unfolded; his frequent interviews with ranking politicians and other leading figures in the two countries; U.S. and Italian government documents to which he has been the first outsider to gain access; and reports and comments by other journalists and students of Italian affairs and Italo-American relations. The result is the most comprehensive and balanced study of relations between the two countries published to date. Demonstrating that the U.S. media has often conveyed a view of Italian politics that does not correspond with reality, the author argues that the roots of Italian democracy have proved to be less fragile than most observers thought. Students of European politics will find Wollemborg's analysis a welcome counterweight to those who have frequently forecast impending Communist takeovers, military coups, political anarchy, and economic collapse in Italy. Wollemborg asserts that most U.S. observers have badly underestimated the resources and resiliency of the Italian economy as well as the Italian people's capacity to stand up to and defeat such threats to their democratic institutions as the surge of terrorism in the mid-1970s. He also shows that at some critical junctures, the U.S. government's approach was badly out of step with Italian developments, most notably in the late 1950s when they opposed the inclusion of Socialists in the ruling coalition. Both the U.S. and Italian media, Wollemborg shows, have contributed to strains in the relationship by portraying the other country unfavorably or by ascribing the wrong motives and beliefs to political parties and actors. Finally, Wollemborg explores present-day relations, demonstrating that cooperation between the United States and Italy is closer now than at any time during the postwar period--reflecting both the weakening of Communist influence in Italy and the rise of the Italo-American community in the United States.