This biography of Benito Mussolini describes his upbringing in the violent society of nineteenth-century Italy and the revolutionary traditions of Italian Socialism; his suspension from school for attacking other boys with knives; his imprisonment in Switzerland as an anarchist tramp. He had numerous love affairs and became a brilliant orator and journalist. He founded the Fascist party and ordered his squads to burn down the party offices of the Communists and Socialists during four years of virtual civil war. Mussolini, having become Prime Minister and dictator after the March on Rome, showed his true colors as an empire builder and, eventually, as a racist and persecutor of the Jews. Hardly the buffoon he is frequently made out to be, Mussolini can also be viewed as an able politician who won the esteem of many statesman and who knew how to cooperate peacefully with foreign governments when it suited him. Jasper Ridley has written a gripping account of the life of a many regarded as one of the arch villains of the twentieth century.