The Pursuit of Italy: A History of a Land, Its Regions, and Their Peoples (David Gilmour, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2011, 480 pages)
This is a wonderfully readable exploration of Italian life over the centuries and is filled with provocative anecdotes as well as Gilmour's personal observations, and is peopled by the great figures of the Italian past―from Cicero and Virgil to the controversial politicians of the twentieth century. His wise account of the Risorgimento debunks the nationalistic myths that surround it, though he paints a sympathetic portrait of Giuseppe Verdi, a beloved hero of the era. Gilmour shows that the glory of Italy has always lain in its regions, with their distinctive art, civic cultures, identities, and cuisines. Italy's inhabitants identified themselves not as Italians but as Tuscans and Venetians, Sicilians and Lombards, Neapolitans and Genoese. Italy's strength and culture still come from its regions rather than from its notion of a unified nation.
One of The Economist's 2011 Books of the Year.