published by diplomats: the Italian case
are born with a pen in their hand. They write countless reports, analyses
and memos during their 35 - 40 years of service, and are forced to acquire a
certain familiarity with the pen or nowadays with the computer. Therefore,
writing becomes a daily activity not to say a routine. This continuous
engagement with writing sometimes sparks a desire to compose something more
permanent and deep than the usual fleeting report, likely to be read only by
a close circle of colleagues at the workplace. A scarcely known side of
diplomats, however, is the books they publish.
current essay presents and analyzes books published by Italian diplomats
from the post-war period to today. The more than six-hundred titles give a
broader and more varied picture than one might imagine, bringing out not
only their talent for describing situations and characters, but also the
broad, diverse interests that distinguish the members of this profession.
volume also takes a look at relations between diplomacy and literature,
examining the primary moments and protagonists of this binomial.
diplomats have published books while in active service, others only after
retirement. These books are often autobiographies, professional memoirs or
historical essays. What is the value of such books, for whom are they
destined, who are the readers, how do researchers view them? Obviously, it
is difficult to express a single judgment on such a wide and varied body
of work, but it is possible to define some trends.
answer to the first question is perhaps the most difficult and above all
the most subjective. Perhaps, we could say in general that the more a book
has to offer to its readers, the greater its worth. In
potential audience of these books can be identified according to genre.
Simply stated, the memoirs and historical essays (which constitute the
most of the books covered by this study) are addressed to a wide public
ranging from scholars and other diplomats, to general readers interested
in history and biography. A small circle of readers purchases most of the
books. The essays on international relations are addressed to a wider
public which includes all those who want to stay abreast of current
events. This last feature is the main limitation of some of these essays.
They often age very rapidly and are destined to become obsolete as a
result of dramatic and unexpected events, especially in the last decade of
the 20th century. We should not forget that in this genre
diplomats often compete with journalists, “forever rivals, but so
and also condemned to the same fate of working “with pen in hand.”
with regard to fiction (novels, short stories, and poetry), the works are
addressed to a small audience of “curious” or affectionate readers.
This genre is the most common, and the reader is left alone in a sea of
authors and titles.
bibliography of books published by Italian diplomats in the foreign
service from the postwar period to the present is quite extensive, and
includes 673 titles. All the titles chosen for this study are shown in
section 12, including the complete bibliography.
section 14 we have divided all the titles into nine different groups and
we have translated all the titles into English.
do not presume to have compiled a list of every book published by an
In some cases the limited circulation or the use of pseudonyms impeded our
work. The purpose of this study is instead to provide an initial tool –
we hope not too incomplete – for further analyses of the whole corpus of books published by Italian diplomats since the end of the
Second World War.
very rigorous and complete study has already been conducted on diplomatic
books published in the period between 1861 and 1915.
However, in looking forward to possible future editions, we are very
thankful to all those, be they authors or readers, who wish to point out
omissions, gaps, and flaws.
period covered by this analysis (1946-2005) does not permit us to include
some outstanding Italian diplomatic writers belonging to an earlier era.
Among these we should mention Costantino Nigra,
and Daniele Varè.
They are personalities whose literary fame has extended beyond the narrow
readership and reaches a much wider audience.
looking through the list of authors and titles, one will notice that, in
many cases, the topics refer directly or indirectly to people, problems,
or experiences that took place while the diplomat-author was on active
duty. After all, the problems and the places with which the diplomat comes
into contact during his career are often so varied to provide a great deal
of material that might inspire the writing of a book, and the author is
often tempted to recount true stories to strangers.
the published works of numerous authors it is often possible to detect the
places in which they served. A prolonged sojourn in a particular place
stimulates the study of related topics and issues. Some diplomats try to
share with others their experiences or the results of their research. This
type of book is often written after completion of a diplomatic posting.
examples illustrate this trend. For
instance, during his mission, Gian Paolo Tozzoli published books on the
Swiss (Gli svizzeri visti da uno straniero, Edizioni Nemi, 1966) and on
Albania (Il caso Albania. L’ultima
frontiera dello stalinismo,
Sica in his book Manigold non fiorì (Ponte delle Grazie, 1991), describes the
failure of an Italian peace initiative in Vietnam between 1965 and 1966,
and in his Operazione Somalia (Marsilio,
1994) recounts the last two years of the Siad Barre dictatorship which he
experienced first-hand as Ambassador of Italy to Mogadishu in 1990 -1991. Somalia
also inspired Claudio Pacifico, who wrote Somalia.
Ricordi di un mal d’Africa italiano (Edimond, 1996). Pacifico
served there in the same period as Mario Sica.
Alberto Indelicato, the last Ambassador of Italy to the German
Democratic Republic (DDR), has written one of the most important Italian
books on the DDR entitled Martello e compasso. Vita agonia e morte della Germania comunista (Luni
Editrice, 1989). Sergio Romano has written several books on
some cases the diplomat’s link with the country or with the continent
where he served lasts long after the mission is over, as if to continue
the analysis of certain situations. This is the case of Ludovico Incisa di
Camerana, who wrote a book on Brazil (Il
Brasile, ERI 1969) and many years later wrote on Latin American issues
with an extensive work on the Caudillos
(I Caudillos. Biografia di un
continente, Corbaccio, 1994).
usually concern experiences and events the authors have experienced
directly. Such books often provide precious material for the investigation
and study of a historical topic. Many researchers have underlined the
importance in this field of the “narrative source”, particularly
memoirs and diplomatic diaries. Memoirs are currently deemed to be a
source of a great importance in the area of historical writing.
a book is by no means an easy task for a diplomat, and publishers are not
necessarily willing to introduce a text to the market simply because it
has been written by a diplomat. Paolo Vita-Finzi’s account of the events
surrounding the publication of his book on Peron
is emblematic of the
difficulties diplomats encounter:
many diplomats have published books before entering the service.
Nevertheless, we should mention some of them, including Roberto Ducci, who
had already published three books on history
before passing the foreign service exam in 1937; and Andrea Cagiati who,
as a student published the first edition of his La
diplomazia dalle origini al XVII secolo in 1944.
unique genre and style of most of the books in this study reflect the
personalities of the authors and, in a more general sense, they also
indicate the changing role of the diplomats and the position they hold
within modern society. On this subject, the words of Roberto Gaja seem to
Definition used by Roberto Gaja in the article Professione:
diplomatico (1945 – 1990), published in the magazine “Affari
Esteri”, n. 94, April 1992.
In order to update the book with all the titles that will be
identified after the publication of the research, the authors have set
up an Internet page at: http://baldi.diplomacy.edu/diplo
In 1986 a working group lead by
Prof. Fabio Grassi published the volume La formazione della
diplomazia nazionale (1861 -
1915) – schede bio-bibliografiche, Istituto Poligrafico e Zecca
dello Stato, Rome. In
the volume, besides indications about the careers of every diplomat in
the period under consideration, there is also a list of all the
writings (both articles and books) published by the authors. The
subsequent study, edited by Vincenzo Pellegrini, “Materiali per
una bibliografia del Ministero degli Affari Esteri”, published
by the Istituto Poligrafico
e Zecca dello Stato in 1999, is also of particolar relevance. This
research contains over 4000 bibliographical records on the
publications (not only monographs, but also articles that appeared in
periodicals and magazines) of the officials who entered the foreign
service in the years
1919-1943, and it constitutes the ideal continuation of Prof.
Grassi’s work. Both texts represent unique sources for researchers
and all other with an interst in Italian diplomats and diplomacy.
Nigra has developed a notable activity as a
philologist and linguist. Among his books recently reprinted are Canti
popolari del Piemonte, Einaudi, 1974, a fundamental study of folk
music, and Le poesie, Zanichelli,
Carlo Alberto Felice Pisani Dossi (this is
his complete name) has published numerous books, some of which have
recently been reprinted. Some titles are:
Vita of Alberto Pisani, Garzanti,1999, L‘altrieri,
Garzanti, 1996 and Note azzurre, Adelphi, 1988. On
this important personality Enrico Serra's book Alberto Pisani Dossi
diplomatico, FrancoAngeli, 1987, includes some unpublished
Varè is best known for his of memoir, Il diplomatico sorridente, Mondadori, 1941 (reprinted several
times). This book was originally published in English as Laughing diplomat, J. Murray,
This book was first published in French, with the title Russie
amour (Éditions France-Empire, 1980) and subsequently translated
by the author into Italian.
See Enrico Serra in Manuale
di storia dei trattati e di diplomazia, ISPI, Milan, 1980, p. 305.
Peron, mito e realtà, Pan
Editore, Milano, 1973.
See Paolo Vita-Finzi, Giorni
Lontani. Note e memorie, Il Mulino, 1989, pagg. 601-602.
To know more about these early publications
(Un conflitto tra Francia e
Corsica nella Roma del sec. XVIII, 1931 under the pseudonym of
Boninsegna, Prima era di
Napoleone, 1993 and finally Il
territorio del Bacino della Saar, 1934, subject of the thesis for
the degree in Jurisprudence). See, by the same author, the
autobiographical book La
bella gioventù, 1996, pagg. 39 - 52)
Roberto Gaja, Professione
diplomatico, in “Affari Esteri”, n. 94, April 1992.
Renato Bova Scoppa, La pace
impossibile, Rosenberg and Sellier, Turin, 1961, p. 9.
Roberto Ducci, I contemporanei,
Editip, Turin, 1976, p. 89
last update 18/12/06 - © Stefano Baldi
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