The Hero’s Way

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What to expect

Brought to you by Penguin.

Bestselling author of Italian Ways Tim Parks follows the hair-raising journey of Italian revolutionary Giuseppe Garibaldi, 250-miles on foot from Rome to Ravenna, to look at Italy past and present.

In the summer of 1849, Garibaldi, legendary hero of guerrilla wars in South America and future architect of a united Italy, was finally forced to concede defeat in his defence of a revolutionary Roman republic. After holding the besieged city for four long months, it was clear that only surrender could prevent slaughter and destruction at the hands of a huge French army. But Garibaldi was determined to turn defeat into moral victory. On the evening of 2 July, riding alongside his heavily pregnant wife Anita, he led 4,000 men out of the city to continue the struggle for national independence elsewhere. Hounded by both French and Austrian armies, they crossed the mountainous Appenines and after endless skirmishes and adventures arrived in Ravenna on 2 August with just 250 survivours.

The group commandeered fishing boats on the Adriatic coast in an attempt to reach the revolutionary republic of Venice, but were intercepted by the Austrian navy. Anita was seriously ill. Garibaldi’s companions split up. Most were rounded up and executed, but the hero himself escaped, travelling back across Italy in disguise until he could finally embark from Genova, first for Africa, then the USA. Ten years later, his revolutionary campaign in Sicily would be the catalyst that brought about the unification of Italy.

With his partner Eleonora, Tim Parks follows their arduous journey in the summer of 2019, in a fascinating portrait of Italy past and present.

© Tim Parks 2021 (P) Penguin Audio 2021

Critics Review

  • A delightful account of an enthusiast’s romp through history and his adopted country… Parks shows one simple way…in which this troubled yet beautiful land and its constantly debated history can still offer nourishment

    Literary Review
  • Parks intertwines his travelogue with thought-provoking contemplation on leadership, history, memory, politics, idealism and the true meaning of love of country’… Parks’s deep affection for Italy with all its flaws…is implicit and compelling

    New Statesman
  • Park’s prose reflects the hot sun overhead, the hard stone underfoot; it spares none of the senses, and it makes for sympathetic reading… the reader gasps at Garibaldi’s charisma and intelligence

  • The Hero’s Way is one of the most enjoyable books I have read in a long time. Following in Garibaldi’s footsteps, Tim Parks recreates the thrilling history of his legendary escape from Rome in 1849. Elegantly written, full of wit and charm, this is travel writing at its very best

    Orlando Figes

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