Monday, October 09, 2006


From the back cover:

On 16 March 1978 Aldo Moro, a former Prime Minister of Italy, was ambushed in Rome. Within three minutes the gang killed all five members of his escort and bundled Moro into one of three getaway cars. An hour later the Red Brigades announced that Moro was in their hands: on March 18 they said he would be tried in a "people's court of justice". Seven weeks later Moro's body was discovered in the boot of a Renault parked in the crowded centre of Rome.

From the Scotsman:

I don't see how anyone interested in the Moro case, in Italian politics, or, more generally, in the relation of morality to State action, can fail to find it required and challenging reading.

In this short book of 119 pages Leonardo Sciascia, a detective fiction writer, discusses the Moro case and its various ramifications.

At the beginning of the book in the new foreword one reads that Moro was known as the "master weaver" of Italian politics. He was Prime Minister on five occasions, and President of the Christian Democratic Party at the time of his death. My sympathies were not aroused, but as the book and the story of his captivity proceeds my respect for this complicated man grew and grew.

His letters to his colleagues in the Christian Democratic party, and his family are produced and discussed along with the Red Brigade communiques.
Moro before his captivity had believed it was sometimes right to negotiate and exchange prisoners with terrorists. He writes that a state that has abandoned the death penalty has by refusing to negotiate effectively reinstated it for him.

The "monstrous" rejection of him in a document to the newspapers issued by fifty of his former supposed friends seems typical of politicians, and by then my sympathies were entirely with Moro in his plight.

Some of Sciascia's writing is as convoluted as Italian politics, and this thin book is not an easy read.

Sciascia goes on to show us the stunning, almost deliberate, incompetence of the police and security services in their hunt for Moro. There are some disquieting parallels between this case, and the failure to observe the activities of the 7/7 bombers by the British authorities. But I have promised myself not to get involved in political discussions on Crime Scraps.

Leonardo Sciascia's The Moro Affair is well worth reading especially in view of last nights Panorama program on the BBC, concerning Mr B, Mr M and the lovely Tessa Jowell.

But I think you need to know a bit more about Italian politics than I do to fully appreciate the book. Therefore I will be reading in the next few weeks The Dark Heart of Italy; Tobias Jones, to get more background. This is one of my wife's books, and one of the rare non-literature, non-religious, non-poetry, non-Tony Hillerman books she has read.


Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Forget Nutters. I'd been thinking of making a post about Sciascia's Day of the Owl, as fine a "literary" crime novel as one can find.

I wonder how I would like the book you suggest. As sharp and subtle as Sciascia could be in his fiction, he could be a bit of a scold in real life. He famously criticized anti-Mafia judges for being careerists. One of the judges graciously replied that he could forgive Sciascia because Sciascia was so great. I believe that judge was Giovanni Falcone, who was later blown up by the Mafia.

3:35 PM  
Blogger Uriah Robinson said...

I am about 2/3rds of the way through Day of the Owl and will post as soon as I finish.
It is a much easier read than The Moro Affair, and one of those books you don't really want to finish because it is so good. I think Moro was written too close to the real events and Sciascia became so angry it affected the style of the book.
Day of the Owl is absolutely superb, a little gem of a book.

1:19 AM  

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