Palmiro Togliatti could not have become leader of the Italian Communist Party at a more difficult time in the Party's history. In 1926, while he was away from Italy representing the Party in Moscow, Mussolini's Fascist government outlawed the organisation and arrested all the other leading Communists, including Antonio Gramsci, and Togliatti became leader - but at the cost of living in exile for nearly twenty years. While in exile, Togliatti rose rapidly through the ranks of the Comintern, escaping Stalin's purges largely as a result of his personal charisma and political acumen. Those same qualities served him well after his return to Italy in 1944, when he quickly transformed the remnants of the Italian Communist Party - by then just a small band of persecuted militants - into the largest and most influential Communist movement in the West. The Italian Communist Party's growth in the years after the Second World War was also helped by Togliatti's unorthodox political strategy. Despite an unshakeable belief in the Soviet system and 'real socialism,' he made important contributions to the constitution of the new Italian republic and was always careful that his party operated within the democratic framework. This strategy proved tremendously successful but it often put him at odds with the Soviet leadership. Togliatti's ability to justify this contradiction and remain on good terms with the governments in both Moscow and Rome was therefore central to his success. Drawing on unprecedented access to private correspondence and newly available archives, this is the first full biography of this important Communist politician and intellectual. Agosti explores Togliatti's intellectual development; his achievements and his sometimes criminal mistakes as the leading member of the Comintern; his complex relationship with Moscow; and his lasting impact on Italian politics. The result is a meticulous and fascinating life of one of Western Europe's most successful Communist leaders, which at the same time casts fresh light on the internal politics of the Comintern.