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Book review: The Pike, By Lucy Hughes-Hallett


This stylish, pacey life of a world-class scumbag shows that devils often do have the best tunes.

In 1919, Gabriele D'Annunzio - gifted Italian poet, novelist, dramatist, proto-Fascist and monster ego - capped 56 years of self-love. He and thugs in nice uniforms occupied Fiume (now Rijeka).

For a war-crazy poseur who turned politics to lurid art, the coup was his finest hour, but a dark one for Europe.

Hughes-Hallett traces the misdeeds of "one of the cleverest of men" but "one of the least empathetic" with a zest that never sinks her moral compass.