the president of Ignatius Press, FatherrnJoseph Fessio, S.J., agreed to pubHsh thernentire work in one vokime. As someonernwho has been involved in this project forrnten vears, I do not make the sHghtest pretensernto impartiaht)’. I have bhirbed thernbook, written a sales letter for it, andrnwould not dream of calling this essay arn”review,” though Chilton Williamsonrnhas given permission to include it in thernReviews section.rnWhat have I left to say about a work Irnhave read several times—indeed, learnedrnhalf of my literary Italian by studying it?rnFinishing that sentence, I looked up tornsee on the inner door of my office a vastrnellow poster advertising a speech givenrnin the town of Carafe Brianza, not farrnfrom Dr. Corti’s home in Besana: IIrnCavallo Rosso di Eugenic Corti neglirnUSA . . . Relatore Thomas J. Fleming.rnIn that lecture, given in April 1993,1 emphasizedrnthe agrarian aspects of the novelrnwhose moral center is “Nomana” (= Besana),rna small town in the Brianza, whichrnis a hillv district of Lombardia stretchingrneast to west to the south of Como andrnLecco. Although the area still has manyrnunspoiled farms, green hilltops, andrnpatches of forest, the Brianza is alsornhome to the small textile manufacturersrnthat hae made Lombardy a center of thernapparel and fashion industry since thernMiddle Ages. (In Manzoni’s I promessirnsposi, set in the early 17th century, Renzo,rnwho lives a little south of Lecco, was arnweaver.)rnCorti begins his novel by painting arnpicture of two peasants, father and son,rngoing about their age-old task of plowingrntheir field just outside Nomana. Therncentral cast of characters, however, isrnmore urban: the textile manufacturerrnwho runs his business with solid “Protestant”rnethics combined with a medievalrnloyalt)’ to his people (not really just “employees”)rnand his family and their friends.rnThe novel chronicles the adventures ofrnthe manufacturer’s son Ambrogio, Ambrogio’srnschoolfriend Michcle Tintori,rnand Ambrogio’s cousin Manno throughrnthe histor)’ of fascist Italy, the war (whichrnCorti saw from both sides), the bitter civilrnstrife tiiat concluded World War II inrnItaly, and the slow, inexorable degradationrnof a great Christian people into thernItaly of today.rnA good part of the book is devoted to arngraphic depiction of the lives of tiie Italianrnsoldiers whom Mussolini dispatchedrnto the Russian front. A vast number ofrnthem died in combat, and of those whornwere taken prisoners by the Russians,rnvery few returned: Palmiro Togliatti,rnhead of the Italian Communist Party,rntold Stalin not to send back the ItalianrnPOW’s because they would spill thernbeans on the reality of life in the worker’srnparadise. Predictably, Togliatti is reveredrnin Italy as the patriot who eschewed violencern(though he and his part)’ kept contactrnwith the Red Brigades) and broughtrnthe communists into the mainstream.rnSome of the most heartrending episodesrnin the novel, in fact, take place after thernwar, when the children of the soldiersrntake to running with a hip, skirt-chasingrnpriest who preaches the glories of communism.rnLike so many Cassandras, thernveterans watch in horror as their friendsrnand children believe the propaganda andrnreject the true witnesses to the truth.rnBut The Red Horse is not simply a novelrnabout war and politics. It is a saga ofrnfamily life, of true love, and of love misplaced.rnImagine a work that is morernreadable tiian Gone with the Wind and atrnleast as serious as War and Peace, and yournwill form some conception of its power.rnIf you are like me, you probably imaginernthat everything good was written beforernyou were born, but that is despair talking.rnThere are fine novelists writing today inrnthe United States (George Garrett andrnCormac McCarthy, to name only two)rnand in France (Jean Raspail). Lombardia,rnthe region of Italy’s greatest novelist,rnAlessandro Manzoni, has produced anotherrnmaster: Eugenio Corti. If you putrnVrnAre You a Member of The Rockford Institute ?rnWouldn’t you lilce to Icnow what Chronicles editors dornwhen they’re not writing for Chronicles’? For a taxrndeductible membership donation of $25, you willrnreceive the Institute’s quarterly publication, Main StreetrnMemorandum, your source for all the hard-hitting commentaryrnand Rockford Institute news that can’t fit in the pages ofrnChronicles. To join, send a check for $25 to:rn//rnTRI Membership 4^rn928 North Main StreetrnRockford, IL 61103rnAPRIL 2001/27rnrnrn