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Curzio Malaparte (pseudonym of Kur Eric Suckert, 1898-1957) was born in Prato and served in World War I. An early supporter of the Italian Fascist movement and a prolific journalist, Malaparte soon established himself as an outspoken public figure. In 1931 he incurred Mussolini's displeasure by publishing a how-to manual entilted Technique of the Coup-d'Etat, which led to his arrest and a brief term in prison. During World War II Malaparte worked as a correspondent, for much of the time on the Eastern Front, and this experience provided the basis for his two most famous books, Kaputt(1944) and The Skin (1949). Malaparte's political sympathies veered to the left after the war. He continued to write, while also involving himself in the theater and the cinema. Dan Hofstadter's last book was The Love Affair as a Work of Art, a study of French writers. Falling Palace, about daily life in contemporary Naples, was published in 2005.
Partly true and partly fiction, Kaputt is based on Malparte's experiences as a journalist following the Fascist armies invading the Soviet Union...Malaparte's grotesquely baroque stories do not need to be true. They speak honestly about the absurd horrors of war. -The Times [UK] Frank, glamorous and gruesome, Kaputt delivers a unique insider's verdict on the damned elite of a damnable system. -The Independent [UK] ...a transcendent work about the admixture of high culture, bestial depravity and human sadism. Part autobiography and part fiction, it captures seemingly unfathomable history. No work has ever revealed more about the murderous blend of zeal and indifference that is fanaticism. Simultaneously mythic and wholly human, Kaputt haunts the reader forever. -- Wall Street Journal A scrupulous reporter? Probably not. One of the most remarkable writers of the 20th century? Certainly. -- Ian Buruma Kaputt is a sad, astonishing, horrifying and lyrical book. It shows us the results of ideological fanaticism, racism, twisted values masquerading as spiritual purity, and the hatred of life, in their most personal and shameful aspects. It is essential for any human understanding of World War II. -- Margaret Atwood An amazing and engrossing book...quite brilliantly done, crammed with incredible and terrifying stories. -- Orville Prescott, The New York Times [Kaputt] is like a report from the interior of Chernobyl. Malaparte had gotten very close to the radioactive core of the Axis Powers and somehow emerged to tell the tale, simultaneously humanizing things and rendering them even more chilling as a result.... Required reading for every citizen of the Twentieth Century. -- Walter Murch