In This Review

The Golden Horde: Revolutionary Italy, 1960–1977
The Golden Horde: Revolutionary Italy, 1960–1977
Edited by Nanni Balestrini and Primo Moroni; translated by Richard Braude
Seagull Books, 2021, 600 pp

Developed countries witnessed far more radical politics and more political violence in the 1960s and 1970s than they do today. This classic book, now translated into English, uses eyewitness accounts from those decades to trace uprisings of workers and students in Italy, a country where the extreme left was particularly strong. Some radicals were inspired by global events: marchers brought placards displaying Mao Zedong and Che Guevara to protests against neocolonial wars in places such as Algeria and Vietnam. Some followed cultural trends in the United Kingdom and the United States: Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg mesmerized Italian writers, the Beatles and the Rolling Stones filled the airwaves, a feminist movement took hold, and parents were unnerved by their long-haired and promiscuous children. Marxist students pressed universities to hire professors committed to the class struggle. After two decades, with the radical left waning, extremist elements took over as masked terrorists threw Molotov cocktails and splinter groups bombed train stations. The Italian state ended it all with a brutal crackdown. This sprawling book vividly portrays the chaos, confusion, and contradictions of those years.