Massimo “Max” W. Salvadori was born in London, England June 16, 1908, the son of positivist philosopher and writer Guglielmo dei Conti Salvadori-Paleotti and Giacinta Galleti di Cadilhac. He grew up in Italy, attending school in Florence until 1924 when clashes with Fascist fellow students caused him to leave. He lived in exile in Switzerland for five years, earning a Licence es Sciences Sociales at the University of Geneva in 1929.
Salvadori’s early experiences shaped his hatred of all dictatorships. In 1929, he joined an underground anti-fascist group, Justice and Liberty. He then returned to Italy, ostensibly to attend the University of Rome, but also to organize in secrecy similar organizations against Mussolini. In 1930, he received a Doctorate of Political Sciences from the University of Rome. His political activities, however, caught the attention of the authorities and he was arrested and jailed from 1931-1932. Shortly afterward, he crossed into Switzerland and lived abroad for the next decade. In 1943, Salvadori was living in England with his British wife Joyce Pawle. He joined the British Army as a lieutenant colonel and participated in the landings at Salerno and Anzio. He parachuted into the Italian countryside in 1945 to help organize a popular uprising. For his service, he was awarded the Military Cross and Distinguished Service Order.
Salvadori came to Smith College in 1945 after teaching at St. Lawrence University, New York from 1931-1941, and Bennington College. In 1948-49, Salvadori took a leave of absence from Smith in order to serve as the director of the Division of Political Science of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in France. He also served as a political analyst for the Information Service of the Secretariat of NATO in 1952-53. At Smith, Salvadori was professor of modern European history until his retirement in 1973. He held the Dwight Morrow Professorship in History from 1964-1973. He also led the Junior Year for International Studies program in Geneva, Switzerland from 1973-1975.
Salvadori wrote and lectured extensively. In 1956, his lecture, “American Capitalism,” presented at the School for International Studies of the State Department’s Foreign Service, was recognized by President Dwight D. Eisenhower. The White House issued and distributed a condensed form of Salvadori’s remarks. He wrote texts on political history, as well as travel books, personal memoirs, pamphlets, reviews and articles in Italian, English, French, and Spanish. His 1962 work, The Rise of Modern Communism, has been translated into 16 languages.
Max Salvadori had a long association with the Liberal International, a London-based association of Liberal and Radical groups and parties. He joined the group in 1948. At his suggestion, the Liberal International started the School for Freedom program, student summer institutes for young liberals. These programs were held in different countries each year. Salvadori remained involved with the group throughout his life, directing eight sessions of the School for Freedom from 1955-1967.
Salvadori died in 1992, at age 84, survived by his wife Joyce Pawle, a son and daughter. In 1993, the college dedicated the Personal Computer Laboratory and Training Center in Seelye Hall in his memory.
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