Continuing with the five new books for February 2012, we’re pleased to publish Remembering Aldo Moro: The Cultural Legacy of the 1978 Kidnapping and Murder, a collection of articles edited by Ruth Glynn and Giancarlo Lombardi. Everyone knows where they were when Kennedy was assassinated, but who feels the same about poor Aldo? The English-speaking world tends to pass over the really fruity features of continental politics — François Mitterand faking an assassination attempt on himself, say — but in Moro’s case this does seem an injustice. A Prime Minister kidnapped by terrorists, imprisoned, but allowed to write imploring letters home, and eventually murdered. The security services — well, “implicated” is such an unkind word.
The tragedy happened to just one man, not three thousand, and the actors were all home-grown, but the sense that things had gone to extremes made Italy in 1978 not so different from America after 9/11. There were defiant speeches, angry controversies, enquiries, memorials, conspiracy theories, and (in the Moro case) quite possibly actual conspiracies. In a small blessing unknown at the time, things didn’t in fact get any worse, and normality was to return. In the lengthy roster of post-war Italian prime ministers, only Aldo Moro stands out today as totemic, but if he had died in his bed he would be mostly forgotten, just like the rest. Instead he’s a lost leader, as David Moss puts it, in a striking chapter comparing Moro to Captain James Cook, whose death in the South Seas cast a heroic shadow across the golden age of the Royal Navy. For Italy, the 1970s were the “years of lead”, not gold, but Moro’s shadow has a noble look to it all the same.