In 1938, Hitler visits Italy. An expatriate Irish art historian is obliged to guide Mussolini and his guest around the galleries. Half fascinated, half repelled, he watches the tyrants, wrestling with the uneasy conviction that he ought to use the opportunity to "do something" about them yet lacking the zeal that might transform misgivings into action.
Thirty years later, his daughter comes across a compromising clipping showing her father with the dictators. Exposed as a collaborator, the narrator explains what happened, what he did and did not do, and why, revealing in the process the part the girl's mother played in promoting the digestive disorders that were to influence the course of the war.
To help his daughter understand, he conjures a time before the crime that would define the century, a time before these men became monsters inflated to fit that crime, showing her the tawdry little people behind the myths, the real Hitler and Mussolini, the Flatulent Windbag and the Constipated Prick.
Based on historical events and using the tyrants' own words, Hitler, Mussolini, and Me brings the dictators down to earth, describing the murkier, more scurrilous aspects of their careers, and using jokes and scatology to weave a crazed pathway toward a cracked kind of morality. It is the story of an ordinary man living in extraordinary times - times when being ordinary was an act of rebellion in itself.
Absolutely wonderful, humanises the two dictators and highlights the fragility of human nature. It brings an wonderful insight into what it would have been like to be an ordinary citizen within those tumultuous times and the subsequent guilt by apathy of the rise of Mussolini and Hitler.