October 1937. As a fruitful conversation at the White House between President Roosevelt and Vittorio Mussolini was drawing to a close, the former expressed the hope that he would meet Vittorio’s father: “One day we must meet”. These were encouraging words for Mussolini’s son, dazzled by the American way of life and there to represent the younger modernist spirit of Fascism. At the time, the “great country” was becoming ever more frequently a key mediator at the centre of the dense network that was parallel diplomacy. Modern art and architecture were used persistently and pervasively by the Fascist government as cultural ambassadors to create myths that would seduce the masses and win over public opinion. It was a practice that created opportunities and tangible results: on one hand, the imposing national pavilions built for the iconic 1933 World’s Fair in Chicago, on the other, the great exhibitions of contemporary art – Casorati, Sironi, Levi, Carrà and de Chirico, among others – alongside the celebrated old masters, whose artworks were sent on daring transatlantic journeys thanks to the enterprising spirit of the likes of Dario Sabatello, Mimì Pecci Blunt and Giulio Carlo Argan.Sergio Cortesini focusses appropriately on the re-evocation of place and on the lively cultural climate of the period. He draws on hundreds of previously unpublished documents to look back at the course of Italian modern art in America between 1933 and 1941. From the early successes he goes on to describe the steady deterioration in political relations up to the final tragic moment when Italy entered the war. This event marked the end of all illusions of grandeur: the pavilions were demolished and the artwork was put into storage. For those who sincerely believed in an Italianismo that could be expressed through the forms of modern aesthetics and the renewed communicative power of national art, Roosevelt’s words were destined to be lost in translation.