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Coup D’Etat: The Technique of Revolution by Curzio Malaparte. New York. 1932. Dutton. hardcover. 251 pages.  Translated from the Italian by Sylvia Saunders. keywords: History Revolution Coup D’Etat Translated.

 

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

 

   Here is the handbook for the modern revolutionist, from the pen of a man who has seen many of Europe’s post-war insurrections at first hand. The nineteenth-century Napoleonic model of the coup d’Etat, which dramatically seized the emblems of government, is dead. It has been superseded by a cold, efficient Marxian technique, first and most brilliantly used by Trotsky in 1917. The October Revolution of the Bolsheviks has rendered useless all the traditional methods of safeguarding the modern state from overthrow: it has changed insurrection from a picturesque drama to a machine. Such is the thesis of Signor Malaparte’s book, which is at the same time a brilliant account of modern dictators - Lenin, Trotsky, Mussolini, Pilsudski, Primo de Rivera - and the means by which they came to power. The book closes with a caustic analysis of Adolph Hitler, present aspirant to dictatorship in Germany, and restates the problems of internal security for a modern government. It is a volume which inevitably recalls Machiavelli’s PRINCE, as a realistic and ruthless account of modern statecraft.

 

  Curzio Malaparte (9 June 1898 – 19 July 1957), born Kurt Erich Suckert, was an Italian journalist, dramatist, short-story writer, novelist and diplomat. His chosen surname, which he used from 1925, means ‘evil/wrong side’ and is a play on Napoleon's family name ‘Bonaparte‘ which means, in Italian, ‘good side’. Born in Prato, Tuscany, to a Lombard mother and a German father, he was educated at Collegio Cicognini and at the La Sapienza University of Rome. In 1918 he started his career as a journalist. Malaparte fought in World War I, earning a captaincy in the Fifth Alpine Regiment and several decorations for valor, and in 1922 took part in Benito Mussolini's March on Rome. In 1924, he founded the Roman periodical La Conquista dello Stato (‘The Conquest of the State’, a title that would inspire Ramiro Ledesma Ramos' La Conquista del Estado). As a member of the Partito Nazionale Fascista, he founded several periodicals and contributed essays and articles to others, as well as writing numerous books, starting from the early 1920s, and directing two metropolitan newspapers. In 1926 he founded with Massimo Bontempelli (1878–1960) the literary quarterly ‘900’. Later he became a co-editor of Fiera Letteraria (1928–31), and an editor of La Stampa in Turin. His polemical war novel-essay, Viva Caporetto! (1921), criticized corrupt Rome and the Italian upper classes as the real enemy (the book was forbidden because it offended the Regio Esercito). In Tecnica del Colpo di Stato (1931) Malaparte attacked both Adolf Hitler and Mussolini. This led to Malaparte being stripped of his National Fascist Party membership and sent to internal exile from 1933 to 1938 on the island of Lipari. He was freed on the personal intervention of Mussolini's son-in-law and heir apparent Galeazzo Ciano. Mussolini's regime arrested Malaparte again in 1938, 1939, 1941, and 1943 and imprisoned him in Rome's infamous jail Regina Coeli. During that time (1938–41) he built a house, known as the Casa Malaparte, on Capo Massullo, on the Isle of Capri. Shortly after his time in jail he published books of magical realist autobiographical short stories, which culminated in the stylistic prose of Donna Come Me (WOMAN LIKE ME) (1940). His remarkable knowledge of Europe and its leaders is based upon his experience as a correspondent and in the Italian diplomatic service. In 1941 he was sent to cover the Eastern Front as a correspondent for Corriere della Sera. The articles he sent back from the Ukrainian Fronts, many of which were suppressed, were collected in 1943 and brought out under the title Il Volga nasce in Europa (‘The Volga Rises in Europe’). Also, this experience provided the basis for his two most famous books, KAPUTT (1944) and THE SKIN (1949). KAPUTT, his novelistic account of the war, surreptitiously written, presents the conflict from the point of view of those doomed to lose it. From November 1943 to March 1946 he was attached to the American High Command in Italy as an Italian Liaison Officer. Articles by Curzio Malaparte have appeared in many literary periodicals of note in France, the United Kingdom, Italy and the United States. After the war, Malaparte's political sympathies veered to the left, and he became member of the Italian Communist Party. In 1947 Malaparte settled in Paris and wrote dramas without much success. After the establishment of the People's Republic of China in 1949, Malaparte became interested in the Maoist version of Communism, but his journey to China was cut short by illness, and he was flown back to Rome. Io in Russia e in Cina, his journal of the events, was published posthumously in 1958. Malaparte's final book, Maledetti Toscani, his attack on bourgeois culture, appeared in 1956. Shortly after the publication of this book, he became a Catholic. He died from lung cancer on 19 July 1957.

 

 

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