Lenin, Stalin, and Hitler

Lenin, Stalin, and Hitler

The Age of Social Catastrophe

Book - 2007
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"This ambitious book tells the story of the great social and political catastrophe that enveloped Europe between 1914 and 1945. In a period of almost continuous upheaval, society was transformed by two world wars, the Russian Revolution, the Holocaust, and the rise and fall of the Third Reich. Combining a powerful narrative with profound analysis, acclaimed historian Robert Gellately argues that these tragedies are inextricably linked and that to consider them as discrete events is to misunderstand their genesis and character. Central to the catastrophe, of course, were Lenin, Stalin, and Hitler, and this book makes use of recently opened Russian and German sources to explain how these dictators' pursuit of Utopian - and dreadfully flawed - ideals led only to dystopian nightmare."--BOOK JACKET.
Publisher: New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 2007
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 1400040051
9781400040056
Branch Call Number: 947.084 GEL
Characteristics: xv, 696 p., [24] p. of plates : ill., maps ; 25 cm

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dennismmiller
Aug 02, 2017

The closing years of the First World War saw an unprecedented wave of human liberation sweep across Europe. The repressive tyrannies that had shackled the human spirit for so many centuries, particularly the traditional regimes of the Russian, German, Habsburg, and Ottoman empires, were at long last swept away. Idealists were finally free to pursue lofty visions of a better world without superstitious nonsense about human limitations, and they found their visionaries in such men as Lenin, Stalin, and Hitler. The screams of their tens of millions of victims echo still today, even if many, now as then, seem deaf to them.

Although he certainly identifies the many similarities his subjects shared, Gellately also highlights differences, notably the contrast between Hitler's "consensus dictatorship" as against the Soviet Bolshevik dictatorship, resulting in revolutionary Communism as opposed to evolutionary Nazism, expressed in differences between the "arbitrary and sweeping terror" under Lenin and Stalin and the "aimed terror" of Hitler. While providing surprises and insights even for those familiar with the period, Lenin, Stalin, and Hitler manages to be an accessible introduction to the darkest chapter in human history so far, from the conditions which encouraged so many to commit themselves to the inhuman ideologies of Leninism, Stalinism, and Hitlerism, through the clash of those ideologies in a social catastrophe "so utterly unprecedented in all its many horrific faces, that it raised questions about the very meaning and future of Western civilization."

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