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From 1938 until 1943 – before the German occupation and accompanying Holocaust – Fascist Italy drafted and enforced a comprehensive set of anti-Semitic laws. Notwithstanding later rationalizations, the laws were enforced and administered with a high degree of severity and resulted in serious, and in some cases permanent, damage to the Italian Jewish community. Written from the perspective of an American legal scholar, this book constitutes the first truly comprehensive survey of the Race Laws in the English language. Based on an exhaustive review of Italian legal, administrative, and judicial sources, together with archives of the Italian Jewish community, Professor Michael A. Livingston demonstrates the zeal but also the occasional ambivalence and contradictions with which the Race Laws were applied and assimilated by the Italian legal order and ordinary citizens. Although frequently depressing, the history of the Race Laws also involves numerous examples of personal courage and idealism, and provides a useful and timely study of what happens when otherwise decent people are confronted with an evil and unjust legal order.Read more
- The first truly comprehensive study of the Race Laws in the English language
- Among the few books to consider the issue of racial and anti-Semitic laws from a comparative perspective
- Of interest to students of Italian/European history, Jewish/Holocaust studies and comparative law
Reviews & endorsements
“Michael A. Livingston brilliantly explores the legal framework, case-level operation, and ominous consequences of Fascist Italy’s racial laws from their introduction in 1938 to the regime’s destruction in 1943. He offers original and often disturbing perspectives on the legal-bureaucratic mechanisms of the Holocaust, the character of modern Italy, and the rule of law. Livingston's analysis is unrivalled in conceptual sophistication, mastery of the relevant legal scholarship, profound knowledge of the historical literature, and painstaking archival research. The Fascists and the Jews of Italy is a splendid introduction to issues that remain unresolved – a full seventy years after Fascist Italy's ignominious end.” – MacGregor Knox, Stevenson Professor of International History emeritus, The London School of Economics and Political ScienceSee more reviews
“This fascinating study reverses the view that the leggi razziali, the Italian equivalent of the Nazi Nuremberg Laws, especially because they included exemptions for meritorious Jews, were not as harsh as the German. Michael Livingston brings a lawyer’s precision to the issue, explains the problems that the drafters faced, and chillingly shows their terrible effects. It is ‘an example of the power of lawyers and legal thinking in creating evil as well as good results.’” – Jonathan Steinberg, Walter H. Annenberg Professor of Modern European History, University of Pennsylvania
“In this book, Michael A. Livingston analyzes the creation, administration, and impact of the Racial Laws promulgated in Italy in 1938. He argues that the Racial Laws written and applied by the Fascist regime were a distinctively Italian and Fascist phenomenon and that, contrary to common assumptions, they were actively enforced. Taking what is only now accepted as a historical truth, the author asserts that Italians supported the Racial Laws and that they were put into force with ever greater dedication between 1938 and 1943. Through his keen analysis, Livingston offers a detailed presentation of the legal imposition of the Racial Laws, as well as their application on the local level. In so doing, he brings to light a critical chapter in European history and debunks a myth central to postwar Italian national identity.” – Marla Stone, Professor of History, Occidental College
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Table of Contents
1. Introduction: on the historical significance of the Leggi Razziali
2. Legislation: race, religion, and the 'Italian Model' of anti-Semitism
3. Administration: expansion, evasion, and the problem of institutional conflict
4. Adjudication: theory, practice, and the role of judicial personality
5. The daily plebiscite: how local officials and ordinary Italians responded to the race laws
6. From perpetrators to victims: the question of Jewish responses
7. Conclusion: implications of the study for Italy, the legal profession, and the study of racial statutes.
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