Since 1992, Italy has been wracked by what has been dubbed a "revolution," the destruction of the First Republic and the launching of the Second Republic. The five parties that once governed Italy are gone; the leaders who guided Italy for forty years stand accused of corruption, many languishing in jail or exile; and a number of politicians and businessmen committed suicide. All these dramatic events stemmed from the exposure of massive political corruption by a small group of Milan magistrates who became national heroes. Yet this controversial book argues instead that the actions of this group amounted to a coup d'etat, conceived by radicalized magistrates in the 1970s and carried out in the 1990s by these same magistrates for explicit political ends that were ultimately achieved in 1996. The authors examine the sources of the magistrates' political support and protection, the intended beneficiaries of their campaign, and their skillful management of the media. Along the way, they trace the magistrates' violation of the norms of due process and defendants' rights and the preferential treatment given to political and business allies.
Few readers of these riveting pages will fail to understand how deep the threat to democracy is, now represented by the Clean Hands investigators themselves, not by corruption. -- Joseph LaPalombara Political Science Quarterly In developing their thesis, Burnett and Mantovani have been very clear, almost mathematical. They explain it, they stick to the facts and the unrolling of the story, and they offer proof, citing the words and actions of the protagonists themselves. -- Spencer M. Di Scala Voltaire At the end of the story, one is left with a fresh, plausible, and disturbing interpretation of the profound and controversial transformations that have taken place in the administration of justice and their revolutionary effects on Italian politics and society. The narrative is absorbing and the argument unrelenting; the authors challenge, or correct, prevailing interpretations well beyond what has been done by other writers on the subject to date. -- Filippo Sabetti, McGill University The best, in fact, that has yet been written on the subject in terms of documentation and explanations. -- Marcello Pera Il Mesaggero The authors argue a controversial point of view persuasively...[They] painstakingly document their case against the magistrates...[The book's] strength is the insights it provides into the motives and style of actors in contemporary Italian politics and media. Foreign Service Journal Burnett and Mantovani have written an excellent history of Italy during the past fifteen years, the best available in English. It is the story of the downfall of the First Republic as the result of 'Operation Clean Hands,' a story virtually ignored outside Italy and often misinterpreted. While the extent of corruption pervading the old system is never doubted, the authors show that the Milan-based judges had a political agenda of their own and that their procedures were often unlawful. -- Walter Laqueur, historian; political commentator; author of The Terrible Secret The authors' great merit likes in the objectivity and meticulous documentation of their examination of the dramatic political and judicial facts that led to the destruction of a part of the Italian political class. ...The Italian Guillotine represents an important point of reference for public opinion, for politicians, and for historians. The Silone Foundation The most interesting part is the analysis of the mechanisms and causes of corruption. They offer an economic explanation, the fragility of which explains the system's unraveling... Foreign Affairs, September/October 1998 ... a novice to Italian politics will learn some useful things from this book. -- Vittorio Bufacci, University College Dublin Political Studies Review [the authors present a] wealth of journalistic detail ... -- P. Vannicelli, University of Massachusetts at Boston CHOICE