Obituary – Denis Mack Smith

MAck SmithIf you click here you will get to a lovely obituary for the great Denis Mack Smith in the Oxford Mail by Stuart Rust .

“He challenged some of the myths that had built up around the Risorgimento, in part due to fellow historian George Macaulay Trevelyan. Mr Trevelyan celebrated the Risorgimento as an example of liberal idealism and patriotism coming together. Prof Mack Smith, however, viewed the Risorgimento in a very different light, claiming it was the result of strong political and personal rivalries in the nation. Other notable works Mr Mack Smith published during his lifetime include Italy: A Modern History, first penned in 1958, revised in 1986, and finally completely revised and reprinted as Modern Italy: A Political History in 1997.”

It is well worth a read.

In truth, I am a little disappointed that the passing of the great man (albeit at a very respectable 97!) has received so little press. He was an original thinker, and he wrote with a beautiful and lucid style. Any A level historian could do a lot worse than read Mack Smith if they want to learn how to structure an argument with clarity and without pretension.

Perhaps Mack Smith’s most important work was Cavour and Garibaldi As Jonathan Steinbeck commented he “told many Italians what they did not want to hear, but told them at a special point in their history when they had no choice but to listen. Denis Mack Smith became and has remained one of the most important historians of Italy. His confrontations with Renzo De Felice over their respective interpretations of Mussolini have taken place before huge audiences of Italian television watchers and his books are widely available everywhere in Italy”.

Mr Kydd

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