A virus projected to kill off half the world’s population is set to be released within 24 hours. A demoniacal billionaire geneticist created the pathogen in order to solve the world’s overpopulation problem. Dante’s apocalyptic vision of the underworld swirls around the race to find the virus, a crucial clue to the evil plan hidden in the poet’s death mask at the Palazzo Vecchio, in Florence. Will Dante be able to save humanity from beyond the grave? This is the plot of Dan Brown’s 2013 thriller, Inferno. In fiction and in fact, Dante Alighieri has been influencing the world order for centuries. Just how he’s achieved global-icon stature is the subject of Guy P. Raffa’s fascinating, comprehensive new book.
Read my review of Dante’s Bones: How A Poet Invented Italy in this week’s issue of Air Mail.