Driving Modernity: Technology, Experts, Politics, and Fascist Motorways, 1922-1943 | BERGHAHN BOOKS
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Driving Modernity: Technology, Experts, Politics, and Fascist Motorways, 1922-1943

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Volume 3

Explorations in Mobility

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Driving Modernity

Technology, Experts, Politics, and Fascist Motorways, 1922-1943

Massimo Moraglio
Translated from the Italian by Erin O'Loughlin

Full Text PDF | Full Text ePUB Made available under a CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 license with support from Knowledge Unlatched.

208 pages, 18 illus., bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-78533-449-8 $135.00/£99.00 / Hb / Published (April 2017)

ISBN  978-1-80073-939-0 $19.95/£15.95 / Pb / Published (July 2023)


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“…a welcome contribution to the literature on Fascist public works, most of which focus on architecture or urban planning, few of which study road-building, one of the most prolific areas of public works under Mussolini’s regime… a much needed and valuable contribution to the history of motorway building in Europe.” • Journal of Transport History

“This book contributes authoritatively to the growing field of mobility history, and it also demonstrates how fruitful the history of technology can be to the study of social and political change.” • Journal of Modern History

“Based on prodigious archival research, Driving Modernity explores how the Italian autostrada project grew out of a somewhat fantastic idea by a coterie of Milan businessmen into an internationally recognized technological icon of Fascist Italy. This book speaks clearly and convincingly about the political values embedded in infrastructures.” • Thomas Zeller, University of Maryland, College Park

“Moraglio’s work is a deep dive into a grandiose and distinctively modern project in interwar Italy. Never before has the complex ideological character of these motorways been so clearly analyzed, from the moment of their conception to the widespread adoption of the automobile.” • Mathieu Flonneau, Université Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne, LabEx EHNE


On March 26th, 1923, in a formal ceremony, construction of the Milan–Alpine Lakes autostrada officially began, the preliminary step toward what would become the first European motorway. That Benito Mussolini himself participated in the festivities indicates just how important the project was to Italian Fascism. Driving Modernity recounts the twisting fortunes of the autostrada, which—alongside railways, aviation, and other forms of mobility—Italian authorities hoped would spread an ideology of technological nationalism. It explains how Italy ultimately failed to realize its mammoth infrastructural vision, addressing the political and social conditions that made a coherent plan of development impossible.

Massimo Moraglio is a senior researcher at the Technische Universität Berlin. He has received an EU Marie Sklodowska Curie IEF fellowship and is editor-in-chief of the Journal of Transport History. He has coedited the volumes The Organization of Transport: A History of Users, Industry, and Public Policy (2015) and Peripheral Flows: A Historical Perspective on Mobilities between Cores and Fringes (2016).

Translation subsidy provided by:

Subject: History: 20th Century to PresentMobility StudiesTransport Studies
Area: Southern Europe

Driving Modernity by Massimo Moraglio is available open access under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) with support from Knowledge Unlatched.

Full Text PDF | Full Text ePUB

OA ISBN: 978-1-78533-472-6


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