Domenico Pacitti's review of Paul Ginsborg's Italy and its Discontents (Books, THES , September ) offers a highly distorted view of the book's contents as well as of its author. He accuses Ginsborg of legitimising clientelism, letting Berlusconi off the hook, "systematically omitting important truths" and performing, albeit "unconsciously... a priceless public relations service for the Italian state". This is quixotic axe-grinding. The book provides a penetrating analysis of the mechanisms and effects of clientelism as well as a meticulous thematic account of the events of 1980-2001.
If Ginsborg is such an uncritical apologist for the status quo, why does Pacitti think he has emerged in recent months as a leading light in the anti-Berlusconian movement for the defence of Italian democracy?
Reader in Italian cultural history
Royal Holloway, University of London