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No other people over so long a history have shown a greater knack for survival than the Italians. In this wryly affectionate book, Hofmann reveals his adopted countrymen in all their glorious paradoxes, capturing their national essence as no other book has done since Luigi Barzini's classic, The Italians. The national art of "arrangement"-- dodging taxes, double-dealing, working only as hard as one must-- is counteracted by Italian inventive genius, gusto for life, fierce individuality, deep family bonds (as well as animosities), and a marvelously hedonistic sophistication.
Paul Hofmann was for many years chief of the New York Times bureau in Rome. A resident of Italy on and off since World War II, he now lives in Rome, writing articles and books. The most recent, Cento Citta, a guide to Italy's smaller cities and towns, is now an Owl paperback (Holt, 1990).