A vivid and surprising portrait of the Italian people from an admired foreign correspondent How can a nation that spawned the Renaissance have produced the Mafia? How could people concerned with bella figura (keeping up appearances) have elected Silvio Berlusconi as their leader—not once, but three times? Sublime and maddening, fascinating yet baffling, Italy is a country of seemingly unsolvable riddles. John Hooper’s entertaining and perceptive new book is the ideal companion for anyone seeking to understand contemporary Italy and the unique character of the Italians. Digging deep into their history, culture, and religion, Hooper offers keys to understanding everything from their bewildering politics to their love of life and beauty. Looking at the facts that lie behind the stereotypes, he 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. Even readers who think they know Italy well will be surprised, challenged, and delighted by The Italians.