Assassins against the Old Order: Italian Anarchist Violence in Fin de Siècle Europe

Fraser M. Ottanelli
University of South Florida

The image of the anarchist assassin haunted the popular European imagination in the late nineteenth century. Fear spawned a gross but persistent stereotype: a swarthy “Italian” carrying a bloody knife or revolver and bred to violence by radical politics, madness, innate criminality, and poor genes. The late Nunzio Pernicone and his co-author Fraser M. Ottanelli have dug into the historical, social, cultural, and political conditions behind the phenomenon of anarchist violence in Italy. Looking at political assassinations in the 1890s, they illuminate in this book the public effort to equate anarchy’s goals with violent overthrow. Pernicone and Ottanelli combine a cutting-edge synthesis of the intellectual origins, milieu, and nature of Italian anarchist violence with vivid portraits of its major players and their still-misunderstood movement. A bold challenge to conventional thinking, Assassins against the Old Order (University of Illinois Press, 2018) demolishes a century of myths surrounding anarchist violence and its practitioners.