Cavour (1810-1861) was perhaps the key figure in the process of Italian unification. As prime minister of Piedmont, he turned this backward and insignificant state into the nucleus of the new Italy, and became the united country's first prime minister in the year of his death, 1861. Here, Harry Hearder sets him and the Risorgimento in the full context of international European power-politics. This book considers the origins and early life of Cavour and how he became prime minister of Piedmont. It reveals Cavour as a ruthless, egocentric and far from balanced man - but a politician of genius and shows how he used his cunning as a politician to manipulate the European great powers to the advantage of Italian unification.