The author delves into the State’s endeavors and missed opportunities to bring the South into its socio-economic fold. Examining State policies from the 1860s annexation all the way to the end of the twentieth century, he finds that both the North and the South share responsibility for the failed reconstruction of the war-torn region. The State’s undertakings, including major land reclamations and massive infrastructure projects funded by the Cassa del Mezzogiorno, were hardly sufficient to set the region on a path of sustained economic growth. But he also finds fault with the Southern ruling elites who opposed the State’s efforts to improve the area’s socio-economic conditions, especially its attempt to fight illiteracy. The galantuomini of the South, DiMaria believes, feared that an educated peasantry would challenge their time-honored privileges.

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