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By Robert Leckie

"A first class renowned historical past of the struggle, vigorous, unique, and always informative."--Publishers Weekly "His skill to recreate the feelings of struggle makes this huge paintings a dwelling history."--Booklist

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He arrived in Switzerland with less than a dollar in his pocket. He finally found a job as a bricklayer’s assistant at 35 centimes an hour, earning 20 francs for sixty hours work—and then, with his shoes gone and his hands broken and bleeding, he quit. ” Moving on to Lausanne, he finally came up against complete destitution, his only possession a nickel medallion of Karl Marx. He was starving. His hatred of the rich and comfortable now became obsessional. Yet he must feed himself, and to do so he snatched bread from a peasant family’s table, running to wolf it down crouched in the wooden box beneath a bridge where he lived.

At Tolmezzo, his latest mistress, a woman older than he, gave him venereal disease, and he proved a miserable teacher only able to control his pupils by bribing them with candy. For this, together with his preaching to priests to burn their soutanes and put on worker’s clothes, the parents of his students kept them home. When his contract expired, it was not renewed. Undaunted, Mussolini rejoined his father, who had been forced to move from the apartment in Predappio to make way for the new schoolmistress and had found a new home near the village.

For the third straight time, his contract was not renewed. Benito Mussolini rejoined his father, who was operating a wine shop in Forli. Alessandro was by then nearly paralyzed. He had sold his forge, taken a common-law wife named Anna Guidi, and opened the taverna. Benito helped his father, and so did Anna’s daughter, the pretty, blond, nineteen-year-old Rachele. Rachele adored Benito. She did not, like many others in Forli, mock him for his bohemian appearance. Nevertheless, although she did not resist his advances, she did not submit to him; and Mussolini, preparing to take an editor’s job in the Austrian town of Trento, promised to marry her upon his return.

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