“Executing the sentence, behind the scenes of Moro’s kidnapping, Rome 1978″
Last week, during a trip to Singapore, I found this book (“Eseguendo la sentenza, Roma 1978, Dietro le quinte del sequestro Moro,” by Giovanni Bianconi) that aroused my historical interest and grabbed my attention up to the end. In three days I finished my reading just to feel not only a full dissatisfaction about the content, but also a turbulent flow of unresolved questions. The first, crucial question is: why Giovanni Bianconi, a well-known journalist of the Corriere della Sera newspaper, wrote this book? The kidnapping and murder of Aldo Moro, president of the Italian Christian Democracy, Italy’ relative majority party at the time, was in 1978 a dramatic event that is not entirely clear still now. The Red Brigades killed five Moro’s bodyguards, kidnapped him and after fifty-five days murdered the man who was the former Prime Minister of the Italian government, the major sponsor of the new alliance between DC and PCI, Christian Democracy and Italian Communist Party, and back then the most respected political opinion leader. During his imprisonment, Moro was submitted to a political process by the Red Brigades and to a harsh repudiation especially by Christian Democracy. He wrote – as it seems – 86 letters. His party, together with PCI, totally negated the possibility of a negotiation with the Red Brigades, and on many occasions declared that Moro, because of his status of a prisoner, was not more clear-headed, able to think logically and coherently.
When Bianconi wrote his book, more than thirty years have passed since 1978. So, at first you would expect a meditated analysis of that time, written using the depth and distance of history (thirty years are enough to picture a social and political period in a serious way); then a collection of the latest information, to get the state-of-art of that cruel event. In fact, the whole episode is full of shadows, of hidden truths, of incredible coincidences, and of secrets. Not casually, in thirty years things have become misty as never, and a large amount of articles, books, and debates helped to complicate and blur the comprehension of the entire story. So, you understand, when Bianconi proposed his “Executing a sentence, Rome 1978, behind the scenes of Moro’s kidnapping”, I was convinced that finally I would know something new, deep.
The book is instead a sterile reportage that at first confuses the historical analysis of a period with news about the Italian Soccer Premier league results at the time, television plots, commercials and minor details. All the questions about the context are scientifically missed. I list only a few of them:
– How many dead, how many magistrates, professors, managers, police men, etc. have been killed by Red Brigades and other armed insurrectionary organizations before Moro’s kidnapping? And after? Which was the real social situation in Italy then?
– Why the police (Polizia, Carabinieri, Guardie di Finanza, also Guardie Forestali who were parts of the board of the crisis) was so unorganized, lacking info, tools, and organization, after so many years of tragic events and dead?
– Why the Italian Secret Services were completely blind (at the very least)?
Not to speak about the uncertain mysteries of the story in itself, from which Bianconi – despite his declaration to describe what happened behind the scenes – keeps clear in a very elegant way (just for example, why the publication of Moro’s letter was and is still now not complete?).
I don’t want to talk about Moro’s kidnapping, and for this reason I stop my short list of unresolved questions, but about a disappointing book that is useless and non educational. Again: why Bianconi wrote it? At the end I thought: to justify the DC and PCI parties, it seems. Or mainly to justify Benigno Zaccagnini, national secretary of Christian Democracy at the time, of whom there are dozens of dramatic descriptions as if he was the real victim of the situation? I cannot answer. The most important lesson I have learnt during my Hong Kong Master is that the writer must respect the reader. And really I don’t think that you can respect your readers and get their respect if you are “embedded” or the developer of a political (?) thesis, without analysis, data, double checks, comments, bibliography, etc.
What a pity this squalid way to perform journalism (moreover using a historical, tragic event).