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Sylvia de Matteo, an American single mother, is taken hostage by terrorists during a political assassination at Milan's central train station. When the terrorists discover Sylvia's father is a Wall Street investment banker, they demand a ransom.

Thirteen Days in Milan takes place in August and September of 2011, while Italy was embroiled in the crippling euro financial crisis, months before Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi was forced to resign because of scandals involving tax evasion and payment to underage prostitutes.


Giorgio Lucchini, DIGOS capo, and his deputy, Antonella Amoruso. Both Lucchini and Amoruso are highly respected and experienced agents within Italy's anti-terrorism police, DIGOS (Divisione Investigazioni Generali e Operazioni Speciali).

Sylvia de Matteo undergoes severe emotional turmoil during her captivity. She originally despises her captors, but after conversations with the terrorist leader through a privacy screen, she becomes sympathetic to the plight of Italians during the euro financial crisis and Berlusconi's political scandals.

Fabio Cecconi is a brilliant but frustrated academic who draws on stories about the Red Brigade (Brigate Rosse) shared by an uncle who was imprisoned after the assassination of Prime Minister Aldo Moro. Although Cecconi is the leader of the terrorist cell he develops doubts about the group's goals while de Matteo is their hostage.

The Moro Assassination


Thirteen Days in Milan begins with a prologue about the kidnapping and assassination of former Prime Minister Aldo Moro on the day he was to achieve his highest political goal of forming the first European government with a coalition that included the Communist Party. Moro was held in a small cell in Rome by the Red Brigades (Brigate Rosse), a violent wing of the Italian Communist Party who kidnapped and assassinated politicians, labor leaders, judges, and lawyers during the violent anni di piombo (years of lead) in the 1970s.

On the morning of Moro's fifty-fifth day as a hostage, he was stuffed into the back of a Renault and shot nine times. His body was driven to a street halfway between the headquarters of the Communist Party and the Christian Democrats, where it was discovered after the Red Brigade revealed he had been murdered.

The Moro affair was one of the most tragic events in modern Italian history. Moro's assassination still resonates in Italian media, politics, and academia, somewhat similar to America's memories of JFK's assassination.

Review Excerpts

I'm Italian, and I must say that Erickson's view of my country and my fellow citizens is not so stereotypical as it appears in other books about Italy written by a foreign writer. His understanding of our political and economic situation is very deep, his knowledge about food and drinks is amazing, and the characters in the story are powerful and realistic. In this difficult moment for Italy, there's a bit of Fabio in every Italian.

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