Volume I of Verona at War will be published on 1 July 2022. Here's 5 things you need to know!
Verona at War is a project I've been working on (on and off) for ten years now, in fact ever since I came to Italy in September 2011. I studied history at uni, with a particular focus on the conflicts of the 20th century and when I moved to Italy I was almost immediately struck by how traces of those conflicts seemed to be lurking behind almost every corner. I'd frequently stumble across a monument or a plaque or even just a street name that would spark my curiosity. That's when my research on the subject really began.
2. Life in wartime Verona
My original idea was to tell a dozen or so stories set in wartime Verona - stories of resistance and betrayal, atrocities, survival and heroism, with the focus very much on the Second World War. One question kept coming back to me though, which was how did all this happen. The more I thought about it, the further back I went, and I eventually decided that I couldn't tell the story without going back to the First World War, when the seeds of fascism were first sown. So this volume basically tells the story of the rise of fascism in Verona: the key events and characters; the mob violence, the beatings and castor oil punishments; the torchlit processions and astonishing political rallies. I was particularly struck by the relentless violence that followed everything the movement did - and that's before the Second World War even started!
In Verona's Biblioteca Civica I discovered an incredible book by Carlo Manzini. It was published in 1938 and it's basically a photo journal of every visit Mussolini ever made to the city. Translating it was a herculean task, but well worth it as it gives such fascinating insight into the spirit of the times and the cult adulation that surrounded Mussolini. Newspaper archives and and political journals were also useful, as well as numerous secondary sources that all had to be laboriously translated from Italian.
4. When can I get a copy?
Verona at War will be available on Amazon from 1 July 2022. You can preorder for Kindle now. In the meantime follow me on twitter for all the latest updates or look for updates on my author's page on Amazon. I'd love to get my books into as many local and independent bookshops as possible, so please reach out if you'd like to stock it. I'm also really keen to share the story as widely as possible, through blogs, podcasts and interviews.
5. What's next?
Well the next two volumes are already pretty well advanced. Volume II tells the story of the outbreak of war, the occupation and the resistance movement within the city. In Volume III the action really intensifies, as the frontline reaches the city, but the story also really broadens out, with a much wider cast of characters, including the American airforce pilots who bombarded the city and the infantrymen who were first to liberate it. All going well Volume II will be published this time next year and Volume III the following year! I've also got another couple of writing projects on the go, including the story behind a remarkable collection of letters posted home from the Italian front by a lieutenant in the Royal Signals Corp, who also just happens to be my grandfather!
Richard Hough writes about history, football, wine, whisky, culture + travel and is currently working on a trilogy about wartime Verona.