Sublime and maddening, fascinating yet baffling, Italy is a country of endless paradox and seemingly unanswerable riddles. John Hooper's marvellously entertaining and perceptive new book is the ideal companion for anyone seeking to understand contemporary Italy and the unique character of the Italians. Looking at the facts that lie behind - and often belie - the stereotypes, his revealing book sheds new light on many aspects of Italian life: football and Freemasonry, sex, symbolism and the reason why Italian has twelve words for a coat hanger, yet none for a hangover.
John Hooper is Italy correspondent of the Economist and Southern Europe editor of the Guardian and Observer. He has spent more than thirty years as a foreign correspondent, reporting principally from the Mediterranean, but also on the conflicts in Northern Ireland, Kosovo and Afghanistan. His book The Spaniards (later revised under the title The New Spaniards) has established itself as a classic. The Italians is the fruit of more than 15 years based in Italy.