Winner of the 2013 Costa Book Awards, Biography of the Year.
Winner of the 2013 Samuel Johnson Prize for non-fiction.
The story of Gabriele D'Annunzio, poet, daredevil - and Fascist. In September 1919 Gabriele D'Annunzio, successful poet and occasional politician, declared himself Commandante of the city of Fiume in modern-day Croatia. His intention - to establish a utopia based on his fascist and artistic ideals. It was the dramatic pinnacle to an outrageous career.
Lucy Hughes-Hallett charts the controversial life of D'Annunzio, the debauched artist who became a national hero. His evolution from idealist Romantic to radical right-wing revolutionary is a political parable. Through his ideological journey, culminating in the failure of the Fiume endeavour, we witness the political turbulence of early 20th-century Europe and the emergence of fascism.
In The Pike, Hughes-Hallett addresses the cult of nationalism and the origins of political extremism - and at the centre of the book stands the charismatic D'Annunzio: A figure as deplorable as he is fascinating.
"[The Pike] dramatically extends biography's formal range to encompass a daunting theme' TLS, ‘Books of the Year'‘This is a magnificent portrait of a preposterous character … deplorable, brilliant, ludicrous, tragic but above all irresistible, as hundreds of women could testify. His biographer has done him full justice" (Francis Wheen, Daily Mail)
"A cracker of a biography, an extraordinary story of literary accomplishment, passionate war-mongering and sexual incorrigibility… In less skilled hands this could have been a disaster; in fact it works wonderfully well" (Spectator, Books of the Year)
"Beautiful, strange and original … an extraordinarily intimate portrait" (New Statesman)
"Hugely enjoyable … Hughes-Hallett has a great talent for encapsulating an era or an attitude …That almost 700 pages flew by bears testimony to how pleasurable and readable those pages were" (Sunday Times)
"A splendid subject for a biography … Hughes-Hallett dances her way through this extraordinary life in a style that is playful, punchy and generally pleasing … In death, as in life, the amazing story of D'Annunzio is painted in primary colours, but with the darkest shadows" (Observer)
"A riveting biography … It must have been so tempting to be judgmental, but Hughes-Hallett allows us to judge for ourselves" (Antonia Fraser, Daily Mail, Books of the Year)
"Not only an inspired telling of a life that becomes more repellent with each page, it illuminates early 20th-century Europe in brilliant, unexpected ways" (Observer)
"Electrifying … a fascinating portrait … Hughes-Hallett relates his journey from romantic idealist to Right-wing warmonger with flair and insight" (Daily Express)