Mussolini's Children

Mussolini's Children

Race and Elementary Education in Fascist Italy

Eden K. McLean

354 pages
6 illustrations, index


July 2018


$55.00 Pre-order

About the Book

Mussolini’s Children uses the lens of state-mandated youth culture to analyze the evolution of official racism in Fascist Italy. Between 1922 and 1940, educational institutions designed to mold the minds and bodies of Italy’s children between the ages of five and eleven undertook a mission to rejuvenate the Italian race and create a second Roman Empire. This project depended on the twin beliefs that the Italian population did indeed constitute a distinct race and that certain aspects of its moral and physical makeup could be influenced during childhood.

Eden K. McLean assembles evidence from state policies, elementary textbooks, pedagogical journals, and other educational materials to illustrate the contours of a Fascist racial ideology as it evolved over eighteen years. Her work explains how the most infamous period of Fascist racism, which began in the summer of 1938 with the publication of the “Manifesto of Race,” played a critical part in a more general and long-term Fascist racial program. 

Author Bio

Eden K. McLean is an assistant professor of history at Auburn University.


Mussolini’s Children will become the authoritative study of elementary education and race in Fascist Italy. . . . McLean convincingly argues that, from the 1920s onward, primary schools, youth groups, children’s radio broadcasts, and other media focused on the health of the ‘race’ or ‘stock,’ laying the groundwork for official racism and anti-Semitism.”—Michael R. Ebner, associate professor of history at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, Syracuse University

“A vivid illustration of how hegemony works in transmitting the ideas of high culture to society at large. The great strength of the book lies in Eden McLean’s indefatigable research on the Fascist educational organizations, published materials, and the pedagogues who translated the regime’s racial theories into classroom practice.”—Richard Drake, Lucile Speer Research Chair in Politics and History at the University of Montana

“Eden McLean draws on new sources and deft historiographical context to create a rich, convincing argument about racism and nationalism under Fascism.”—Mark I. Choate, associate professor of history at Brigham Young University  

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
List of Common Acronyms
Part I. Defining Fascist Power and Identity, 1922-1929
            Chapter 1. Designing a Fascist Elementary Education
            Chapter 2. “Reawakening the Spirit”
Part II. “Fascistizing” the Nation and Race, 1929-1934
            Chapter 3. From Instruction to Education
            Chapter 4. From Fit to Fascist
Part III. Resurrecting the Roman Empire, 1934-1938
            Chapter 5. “Libro e Moschetto, Fascista Perfetto,” 1934-1936
            Chapter 6. Educating Rulers for the Second Roman Empire, 1936-1938
Part IV. Ensuring the Empire’s Immortality, 1938-1940
            Chapter 7. Enforcing the Racial Ideal
            Chapter 8. Enduring Principles of Italian Racial Identity
Some Conclusions

Also of Interest