Lobster Summer 2007

       "Willan wrote the wonderful The Puppet Masters about post-war Italian politics and this is more of the same, a smaller patch examined in more detail. Never mind the subtitle: yes, he does re-examine the events leading up to Calvi’s suicide or ‘suicide’; but at its heart this is an account of some of the effects of America’s anti-Soviet obsession on Italian politics and what stemmed from it: corruption of all institutions, including the Catholic Church; drugs, violence, terrorism and assassination; conspiracy, literally, as normal politics; disinformation by the barrow-load. This book is full of incredible stories, leads, hints and allegations across 30 years of post-WW2 history. No book I have read recently conveys a stronger sense of how what is portrayed in the media as ‘politics’ is merely pap fed to keep us entertained and docile. Few of these extraordinary stories are stood-up in any sense; nor will they ever be, I guess, unless we get some confessions from the participants; and even then it might not be possible to work out what is true and what not. (It might be the case that no single individual has a clear picture of what has been going on.) So, for the foreseeable future we are going to be stuck with a lot of material whose status is uncertain. But what material! An astonishing set of tales, with the Brits flitting in and out of the story, in their usual general role as the adjuncts of America, and specifically covering up the mess in London left by Calvi’s death.
In the final chapter Willan recounts how a young Silvio Berlusconi joined the P2 secret society a couple of years before it was exposed, and describes P2 boss Gelli’s plan to take control of Italian society by buying the media and the unions, and forming a new kind of political party – some of which Berlusconi did do. Berlusconi is generally thought of as being a front man for organised crime; but in the sketch in his last chapter Willan appears to be suggesting that his sponsors may have been the same people and forces which produced P2."


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