This is the first academic biography of one of the most important and controversial figures in modern Italian history. Francesco Crispi (1818-1901) was among the key figures in the Italian Risorgimento, a close freind and supporter of Mazzini and Garibaldi, and one of the architects of Italy's unification in 1860. Yet he went on to become an authoritarian prime minister and ally and admirer of Bismarck, whose ambitions for Italy brought Europe close,, on several occasions, to a general conflagration. Crispi was celebrated by the fascist regime as the 'precursor' of Mussolini, and in exploring Crispi's evolution from revolutionary democrat to bellicose authoritarian, this book aims to shed light on the roots of fascism and the problems of Italian liberalism. The central theme linking the various phases of Crispi's career is that of how to turn Italy from a 'geographical expression' into a nation.