This review discusses Axel Körner’s book on the role played by the United States in the political and cultural imagination of the Italian Risorgimento. It highlights the extent to which the book moves away from a historiographical tradition inaugurated by Robert Palmer in 1959, taken on in Italy by Giorgio Spini in the 1960s, and recently revitalised by Jonathan Israel, that locates the American revolution at the origins of modern democracy and treats it as a model that was imitated and discussed in the Western world. The originality of Körner’s work is twofold. First, it combines cultural history with history of political thought, exploring as it does opera, literature, as well as political pamphlets and parliamentary debates. Second, it highlights the extent to which Italians were often critical of America. The review stresses the extent to which the America played a peculiar role in Italian culture in the age of nationalism due to its very geographical distance and the lack of knowledge about it among Italian, who conveyed their more pressing political and social concerns in relationship to France and Britain.
Keywords: Risorgimento, USA, Storia culturale, Storia delle idee, Opera italiana