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The Two Sick Men of Europe?

Britain and Italy between Crisis and Renaissance (1976-1983)


Giulia Bentivoglio

At first glance, there could be few countries more diverse than Britain and Italy: one the cradle of democracy, a model for most other parliamentary systems; the other a young nation and the essence of political instability. Yet despite the differences, from the mid 1970s London and Rome shared a common destiny of struggle against the crisis which eventually led them to a new "renaissance" by the early 1980s. Drawing on a wide range of sources, this volume fills an important historiographical gap, casting new light on the unexplored relations between Britain and Italy during the Cold War.

The "Italian case" concerned all the major Western powers: Italy was generally perceived as the great "sick man of Europe", and her very democratic solidity appeared to be challenged, while also seemingly threatening the stability of the continent and the East-West balance of power. Yet there was another "sick man" in the Old Continent: in those years, Britain was to face a severe economic and monetary crisis which weakened her international stance and forced her to play the double role of "doctor" of the Italian disease while being a "patient" herself. It is a tale of two crises, and two ways out of them.

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