chapter  9
The Feltrinellis—Going Global with the Timber Trade: How to Build a Fortune Using a Scarce Resource (1854–1942)
Pages 15

Feltrinelli. If you go to Italy, sooner or later, you will find a bookstore with this name. There are more than one hundred of these bookstores in the country. The year 2012 was the fortieth anniversary of the mysterious death of Giangiacomo Feltrinelli, the controversial publisher who created the publishing house in 1954 with his prestigious family name but who moved during the 1960s toward the extreme left wing of the Italian political spectrum. He died in an attempted terrorist attack placing a bomb in a high-voltage electric facility on the periphery of Milan. Up until then, the family name had been associated with long-established and prosperous entrepreneurial activities. The family’s spectacular success appeared to be continuing into the next generation when the Feltrinelli publishing house produced two bestsellers in the late 1950s: Boris Pasternak’s Dr. Zhivago , which won him a Nobel Prize for literature, and Tomasi di Lampedusa’s The Leopard , which became an international success in part due to Luchino Visconti’s movie with Burt Lancaster’s fantastic performance as the Count of Salaparuta. When young Giangiacomo (b. 1926) reached adulthood at the end of the Second World War, the Feltrinellis were unanimously considered one of the most important families in Italian capitalism alongside the Agnellis, Pirellis, Volpis, Orlandos, Bredas, and Falcks, among others. Of these, only the steel-producing Falcks, who had arrived in Lombardy in the early 1830s, and the Feltrinellis were already in their third generation.