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Mussolini and the Rise of Fascism. (HarperCollins, London, 2008).

The Independent newspaper called it a “timely riposte to Il Duce’s wrong-headed revisionists”. An extract from Ian Thomson’s review:

“This book by the historian Donald Sassoon leaves one in no doubt that Italian Fascism was as meretricious as it was vile. The key question is why Mussolini obtained office in the first place. In Sassoon’s analysis, Mussolini was one of the first modern leaders to achieve power in “exceptional circumstances”. Italy after the First World War was convulsed by political violence. Discontent ran high as demobbed soldiers roamed the streets in search of work, and shop-floor grievances multiplied. Mussolini exploited fears of communism and offered a dream of a second Roman Empire.”

Hardcover: ISBN-10: 0007192428 ISBN-13: 978-0007192427 (HarperCollins, 224 pages (21 Jan 2008))

Kindle edition: ASIN: B0092HPZ66 (HarperCollins, 224 pages (27 Sep 2012))

The Culture of the Europeans. (HarperCollins, London, 2006).

An extract from Allan Massie’s review:

“Sassoon’s view of culture is, wisely, a long way from Matthew Arnold’s. He is not much interested in the argument about “high” or “good” culture or “low” or “bad” culture. He is interested first in “cultural production” which has “a context, a network, a set of relationships… what is ‘high’ culture in one epoch can be ‘pop’ in another”. And vice-versa: Tintin delights intellectuals, and in 1990 the Louvre mounted an exhibition celebrating Charlie Brown and Snoopy.

This huge book is divided into five parts: “1800-1830: the Pre-Conditions”, which has good chapters on “Triumphant Languages” and Walter Scott; “1830-1880: the Triumph of Bourgeois Culture” (excellent chapter on opera, very good one on Hugo and Dickens); “1880-1920: the Revolution”, with an emphasis on the popular dissemination of culture through recorded sound and film; “1920-1960: the Interventionist State”, discussing the advent of mass culture and the impact of radio; and, finally, “After 1960: the Era of Mass Media”, introduced by television, and leading to “A World of Readers” and “Exploding Pop”.

In his conclusion, Sassoon brings us up to the world-wide web, which “has enhanced the common elements of international culture, but because the producers have multiplied and will go on multiplying, what is produced is likely to have even less coherence than the cultures of the past… The global village can be balkanised.” However, “there is no more reason to lament such diversification than to lament the so-called cultural imperialism of the very recent past.” So there.”

Hardcover: ISBN-10: 0002558793 ISBN-13: 978-0002558792 (HarperCollins, 1656 pages (4 Sep 2006))

Kindle edition: ASIN: B008CBDENE (HarperCollins, 1656 pages (28 Jun 2012))


Mona Lisa: The History of the World’s Most Famous Painting, (Harper Collins, London, 2001).

Charles Nicholl’s review:

“Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa may be ‘the world’s most famous painting’ but almost everything about it is obscure. We don’t know precisely when it was painted, we don’t know for certain who she is, and as we stare at her puzzling features for the umpteenth time we are inclined to ask ourselves: what is it about her? It is that question, in all its historical and cultural ramifications, which is addressed in Donald Sassoon’s elegant and comprehensive study of the Mona Lisa phenomenon.”

Hardcover: ISBN-10:  0007106149 ISBN-13: 978-0007106141  (HarperCollins, 320 pages (17 Sep 2001))

Paperback: ISBN-10: 0007106157  ISBN-13:  978-0007106158 (HarperCollins, 368 pages (4 Sep 2009))


Published in the USA by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt as Becoming Mona Lisa: The Making of a Global Icon.

Hardcover: ISBN-10: 0151008280 ISBN-13: 978-0151008285 (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 352 pages (9 Nov 2001))

Paperback: ISBN-10: 0156027119 ISBN-13: 978-0156027113 (Mariner Books 352 pages (7 Jan 2003))


Leonardo and the Mona Lisa Story (2006, art book) Duckworth in the UK, Overlook in the USA, Allen and Unwin in Australia.

Hardcover: ISBN-10: 0715636146 ISBN-13: 978-0715636145 (Gerald Duckworth & Co, 352 pages (28 Sep 2006))

One Hundred Years of Socialism. The West European Left in the Twentieth Century (969pp.)


Hardcover: ISBN-10: 185043879X ISBN-13: 978-1850438793 (I.B.Tauris, 512 pages (31 Dec 1996))

Paperback: ISBN-10: 1848852975 ISBN-13: 978-1848852976 (I.B.Tauris, 1008 pages (6 Aug 2010))

UK Hardback: I.B.Tauris, 1996, UK Paperback edition: Fontana Press, 1997. UK Paperback second edition (IB Tauris) with a new introduction 2010. USA edition: The New Press, 1997. (hardback and paperback)

Contemporary Italy. Politics Economy and Society Since 1945, Longman, London and New York 1986, 277pp. Six impressions) Second edition, revised and updated: Longman, 1997. L’Italia Contemporanea, Editori Riuniti, Rome 1988, 367pp. Italian translation of the above (expanded & updated):

Togliatti e la via italiana al socialismo. Il PCI dal 1944 al 1964, Einaudi, Turin 1980, 405pp.

The Strategy of the Italian Communist Party. From the Resistance to the Historic Compromise,  Frances Pinter Ltd., London and St. Martin’s Press NY, 1981, 259pp, (Shortened version of the book published in Italian, with an update to 1979).

Edited and shorter books.

The Sense of Europe, conversation with Eric Hosbbawm (in Spanish and English), CCCB Barcelona 2008

I buoni e i cattivi nella cultura popolare, Aragno editore, Turin 2012

Edited with an introduction: Looking Left. The European Left after the Cold War, Tauris, London 1997

In the US: The New Press 1998.

Edited with an introduction: P. Togliatti, On Gramsci and Other Writings, Lawrence and Wishart, 1979.

Edited with an introduction: The Italian Communists Speak for Themselves, Spokesman Books, Nottingham 1978.