Our fathers did not talk about psychology; they talked about a knowledge of Human Nature. But they had it, and we have not. They knew by instinct all that we have ignored by the help of information. — G. K. Chesterton

Garibaldi and his Red Shirts - F. J. Snell

Garibaldi is one of the most interesting of the characters involved in the wars of Italian Unification. He was an extreme radical and violently anti-Catholic, but idealistic and selfless in his efforts; always willing to risk his own life and property while accepting no reward or position for his services . He was a warrior rather than a statesman, and this biography follows his military career in detail. The politics involved in the Unification of Italy were exceedingly complicated so the episodes of treachery, shifting alliances, secret missions, and geo-political struggles may be difficult to follow without a previous introduction to the period, but the military campaigns in and of themselves, are of great interest.

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[Cover] from Garibaldi and his Red Shirts by F. J. Snell
Garibaldi and Emmanuel

[Title Page] from Garibaldi and his Red Shirts by F. J. Snell


Our brief sketch of Garibaldi and his comrades has been based, as far as possible on G. M. Trevelyan's notable trilogy—Garibaldi and the defense of Rome, Garibaldi and teh Thousand, and Garibaldi and the Making of Italy. Mr. Trevelyan's very full and highly picturesque narratives do not take in, or only cursorily, the later phases of his hero's career, in with Garibaldi appears to less advantage. Here we have been compelled to fall back on Garibaldi's autobiography, which as been satisfactorily translated by Mr. A. Werner, supplemented by Signora Mario's recital.

A legend which seems impossible but has nevertheless gained acceptance in some quarters represents Garibaldi as having been killed at Aspromonte, when a 'double' named Sganerelli, a stevedore of Genoa, was substituted for him by the chiefs of the party for political reasons. The supposed fraud has been put forward as an explanation for the Liberator's failures after 1862. The theory is not only unnecessary, but even preposterous. " 'Tis not in mortals to command success," and as it was Garibaldi's uniform experience to strive against heavy odds, it should excite no surprise that sometimes his military genius was beaten by circumstances. What is really surprising is that a man untrained in the arts of war should have accomplished such signal results, at any period of life, with such cruelly inadequate means.


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