Between Hollywood and Moscow

The Italian Communists and the Challenge of Mass Culture, 1943–1991

Between Hollywood and Moscow

American Encounters/Global Interactions

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Book Pages: 280 Illustrations: 14 b&w photographs, 2 figures Published: December 2000

Author: Stephen Gundle

European Studies > Eastern Europe and Russia, History > European History, Politics > Political Science

In the postwar years, Italy underwent a far-reaching process of industrialization that transformed the country into a leading industrial power. Throughout most of this period, the Italian Communist Party (PCI) remained a powerful force in local government and civil society. However, as Stephen Gundle observes, the PCI was increasingly faced with challenges posed by modernization, particularly by mass communication, commercial cultural industries, and consumerism. Between Hollywood and Moscow is an analysis of the PCI’s attempts to cope with these problems in an effort to maintain its organization and subculture.
Gundle focuses on the theme of cultural policy, examining how the PCI’s political strategies incorporated cultural policies and activities that were intended to respond to the Americanization of daily life in Italy. In formulating this policy, Gundle contends, the Italian Communists were torn between loyalty to the alternative values generated by the Communist tradition and adaptation to the dominant influences of Italian modernization. This equilibrium eventually faltered because the attractive aspects of Americanization and pop culture proved more influential than the PCI’s intellectual and political traditions.
The first analysis in English of the cultural policies and activities of the PCI, this book will appeal to readers with an interest in modern Italy, the European left, political science, and media studies.


“A cogent, insightful investigation of the cultural activities of the PCI (Partito Comunista Italiano) from 1943 until the dissolution of the party in 1991. . . . A well-argued, intelligent, and engaging book. Gundle’s Between Hollywood and Moscow is a most valuable addition to the bibliography of students and scholars of twentieth-century Italian culture. Moreover, because this book is focused on the problematic response of the Italian left to the process of Americanization, it is likely to appeal to those interested in mapping the complex relationships that have occurred as a result of intercultural encounters, and will continue to emerge as a result of increasing forces of globalization.” — Norma Bouchard, Annali d'Italianistica

“The book is an original contribution to knowledge based on a prodigious amount of research. . . . A significant achievement.” — Stephen Hellman , International History Review

"A comprehensive account of the cultural policies of the Italian Communist Party. This is a very useful book containing much relevant information on a surprisingly under-researched topic." — Donald Sassoon , Modern Italy

"An admirable achievement . . . An important contribution to the comprehension both of Italian communism and of Italian cultural developments in the crucial period of the second half of the twentieth century." — Rebecca West , Journal of Modern History

"Gundle . . . provides a useful overview of the richness of the party's culture, both high and low, and of the sometimes ingenious but all too often inadequate strategies whereby the PCI's leaders attempted to use cultural projects to increase the party's membership and its strength at the ballot box." — Nadia Zonis , H-Net Reviews

“Gundle’s analysis is well documented and persuasively argued.” — Mario Del Pero Journal of American History

“Stephen Gundle's book is a highly original contribution to our knowledge of the culture and politics of modern Italy, combining as it does theoretical sophistication with extensive empirical research.” — Paul Ginsborg, Universita degli Studi di Firenze

“Between Hollywood and Moscow is an outstanding work that treats the effects of modernization and the development of a mass consumer society in Italy in an original and illuminating manner. It restores a sense of the importance of culture as an integral part of political strategizing and communicates the shifting meanings of culture over four decades of Italian history.” — Ruth Ben-Ghiat, New York University

“Between Hollywood and Moscow makes an original contribution to the study of the PCI and post-war Italy in general from a cultural point of view, and reveals the importance of specific cultural strategies and transformations in the political history of the PCI.” — John Dickie, University College, London


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Price: $26.95

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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Stephen Gundle is Senior Lecturer and Head of the Department of Italian at Royal Holloway, the University of London.

Table of Contents Back to Top

List of Illustrations


Chapter One: Between Hollywood and Moscow
Politics, Culture, and Society after the Fall of Fascism

Chapter Two: Bread, Love, and Political Strife
Cold War Communism and the Development of Cultural Policy

Chapter Three: What’s Good for Fiat is Good for Italy
Television, Consumerism, and Party Identity in the 1950s

Chapter Four: From Elvis Presley to Ho Chi Minh
Youth Culture and Cultural Conflict Between the Centre Left and the Hot Autumn

Chapter Five: Crisis, Austerity, Solidarity
The Question of Hegemony in the 1970s

Chapter Six: Welcome to Prosperity
Economic Growth and the Erosion of Left-Wing Culture

Chapter Seven: The Last Tango
The Collapse of Communism and the Dissolution of the PCI



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Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-2563-5 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-2530-7
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