December 6, 2022

Fast Fascism: Q&A with Dr. Paul Baxa

AMU Communications

AMU History Professor Launches New Book

Dr. Paul Baxa, associate professor of history at Ave Maria University, recently launched his new book, Motorsport and Fascism: Living Dangerously, the first English-language study of motorsport and Italian fascism.

The official book launch took place on Friday, October 28, 2022, in the Canizaro Library on Ave Maria’s campus. During the presentation, Baxa explained how his new book explores the historical connections between motor racing and fascism, based on archival research he conducted in Italy.

Dr. Baxa kindly agreed to answer some questions about his new book:

QWhat was your motivation to write Motorsport and Fascism: Living Dangerously?

A. The interest in fascism goes back to my family. My parents grew up in fascist Italy, so I grew up listening to stories about fascism and Mussolini, and so it was always an interest of mine. Motorsport is one of my great passions, and reading about it growing up, I learned it was also an important element of fascism.

Q. Could you expound more on how your book is the first English-language study of motorsport and fascism?

A. There are books on fascism and sport, and they will mention the importance of motorsport—there’s two in Italian—but there is no actual book-length study of the topic [in English]. So, because I am so interested in the topics [of fascism and motorsport], and how they come together, I figured “ok, I’ll do it.”

Q. What is the message you hope to transmit through this book?

A. The one really important message is that politics and sports do go together in many ways. We tend to see sport as something totally separate from other things like politics, but there is a connection; sport shows the greatness of your country in competition. This goes back to the original Olympic games, when the Greek city-states used to come together and compete with each other; it was political. Sports can be used politically.

Q. What would you say to those who are thinking about studying history?

A. I would advise them to! History is a discipline that gives you perspective on current events. It is important to have a perspective on how things develop over time, and how change occurs over time; to have a more balanced view of what happens today, you need a historical background. History shows us that the world we live in is a product of the past.

Dr. Baxa has been teaching history at AMU since 2006 and is also the author of Roads and Ruins: The Symbolic Landscape of Fascist Rome (Toronto, 2010). On the day following the launch, he gave a talk for the University’s Hail Mary Lecture Series, where he spoke about the origins of fascism and its development over the years.

“Our History Department showcases the best of AMU. . . . Our students benefit from [a] unique combination of Catholic fidelity, scholarly excellence, and international experience,” said Dr. Michael Breidenbach, chair and associate professor of history at AMU. “Dr. Baxa’s book is a testament to the talent of our history professors and how our students can also benefit from the original research we do outside the classroom.”

AMU is very blessed to have Dr. Baxa as part of its faculty. A student praised his entertaining style of teaching, saying that going to one of his lectures is “like listening to a very compelling story.” The University proudly salutes Baxa for his dedication in teaching and the launch of his new book.

If you would like to support the work of AMU’s faculty and staff, such as Dr. Paul Baxa, you can join the Annunciation Circle, a community of members who support Ave Maria University through their prayers and monthly donations of $10 or more. Learn more about Ave Maria’s Annunciation Circle here.

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