Visiting Italy is both a ascent into the heavens of civilization and a descent into the antithesis of everything that makes sense in human society. British journalist and author Tobias Jones is, in The Dark Heart of Italy, trying to make sense of this pungent contradiction. He tries to explain the business climate, and the way businessmen and politicians and historical prejudice and conflict and culture are entangled in a web more complex than a 300-page book can do justice.
The sad thing about this book is that nothing in it felt new or revealing.
The good thing is that, despite the dark issues he tackles, his love for Italy shine through. This makes this book something else than the hit-and-run journalism it risks being. Because despite Italy being a nation where cunning is hailed as virtue, and where political violence is never that far away (and where TV programming is abysmally disgusting), it is also a nation of taste and style, and of big beauty.
Anyone who consider reading this book should make sure they get the revised edition, with the extra added postscript. Five years can make a big difference, and sometimes it’s good to hear the author reflect on his own writings. This is such a time.
And yes, I liked the book.