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As the home of both the Roman Empire and the Renaissance, Italy has long been at the forefront of cultural developments in Europe and Western Eurasia.Italy's economic stagnation after the early 17th century was also held up as a cautionary tale. Then came the post-World War II period, when Italy was the poster child for fruitful European integration. The country developed a cultural style that is still uniquely influential to this day, particularly in the domain of fashion, where it is a global trendsetter. But now Italy has become a cautionary tale once again. Italy's political revolution was due not to chance, but to specific social developments dating back to what Italians call the "Years of Lead" of the 1970s.Albinati uses this shocking historical episode to analyze the disintegration of the Italian bourgeoisie and the decline of traditional religion. His is a story about the uselessness of men in modern society.Though Albinati's novel is set in Italy, that world is its subject, leaving open the question of whether there can be any escape from the unchecked pursuit of personal gain that underlies today's prevailing social and political malaise.
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