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The Totalitarian Temptation Paperback – 30 Nov 1978


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Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd; New edition edition (30 Nov 1978)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140048413
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140048414
  • Product Dimensions: 10.6 x 2.5 x 18.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,148,046 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Good Grain on 27 Mar 2009
Format: Paperback
This great French writer thoroughly disects the Marxist and Socialist movements of the 1970s and shows up the gross improbability and sheer ridiculousness of their arguments and assertions, while pondering why they were able to tempt over so many people despite all the evidence clearly showing how wrong they were. At least to those who wished to see. And therein lies the problem; people blinded themselves to the truth, the reaility, of what they supported.
Reading this book allows one to go some way towards understanding this problem. Make no mistake the USSR may be gone, but the totalitarian temptation is still very much with us.
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Format: Paperback
This was one of the first books I read when I had begun to be interested in politics. Revel writes with an astonishing lucidity and clarity about one of the great diseases of nationalism in the industrial era, totalitarianism. In a nutshell, Revel argues that the monopolization of the media and the means of enforcing obedience (in lieu of maintaining safety and liberty) represents the great temptation for tyrants who wish to change societies quickly and on a mass scale. While Revel does not add much in terms of academic theory to this debate, his book adds journalistic detail and lucid arguments in a way that is easy to read for those interested but not ready to crack Hanna Ardnt's big books on the subject. Revel's treatment was also politically relevant, as the time in which it was written there was still much debate about whether the USSR was better equipped to help more people more quickly than were liberal democracies. This book does not have the biting sarcasm and cynicism of his wonderful Without Jesus or Marx, but it offers a more focused and coherent argument against this brand of dictatorship.

REcommended as a cautionary tale as well as an interesting view into the Cold War mentality as it was in the 1970s.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 4 reviews
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
very good look at the seduction of 20C dictatorships 25 July 2005
By Robert J. Crawford - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This was one of the first books I read when I had begun to be interested in politics. Revel writes with an astonishing lucidity and clarity about one of the great diseases of nationalism in the industrial era, totalitarianism. In a nutshell, Revel argues that the monopolization of the media and the means of enforcing obedience (in lieu of maintaining safety and liberty) represents the great temptation for tyrants who wish to change societies quickly and on a mass scale. While Revel does not add much in terms of academic theory to this debate, his book adds journalistic detail and lucid arguments in a way that is easy to read for those interested but not ready to crack Hanna Ardnt's big books on the subject. Revel's treatment was also politically relevant, as the time in which it was written there was still much debate about whether the USSR was better equipped to help more people more quickly than were liberal democracies. This book does not have the biting sarcasm and cynicism of his wonderful Without Jesus or Marx, but it offers a more focused and coherent argument against this brand of dictatorship.

REcommended as a cautionary tale as well as an interesting view into the Cld War mentality as it was in the 1970s.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Everything this author writes should be read 22 Nov 2009
By Peter T. Wolf - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Ive read all of Revel's books. He is one of those writers that you simply have to read. EVERY book he's written is important. I can think of few authors who share that distinction. Probably the secret of his penetrating insights is that he is European ( French) and is thus able to 'report from the trenches' facts and mentalities that non-European writers are unable to discern. He then takes these insights and blends them with his knowledge of history, America, totalitarianism, and human nature and produces the synthesis so captivating to his readers . It is a good thing Revel is on the right side of these issues because otherwise his talents would be devastating weapons against freedom and the West.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Humanity holds freedom cheap 24 Nov 2009
By Richard Reed - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
An important book that tackles--or valiantly attempts to tackle--the mystery of why so many tyrannies have enthusiastic constituencies...mostly abroad.
9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
A text of beating actuality! 1 Dec 2006
By Hiram Gomez Pardo - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
At the eve of the next Presidential elections in Venezuela the next Sunday and in the light of the intimacy of my thoughts, I decided to reread this admirable essay of Jean Francois Revel, rediscovering enlightened reflections around the nature of power and how the increasing confiscation of the freedom of thought, the absolute lack of interest in what concerns to revisit the History, the enormous waste of time in banal speeches, an absolute futility and authentic desire to reencounter with ourselves, in order to avoid to revive it, made me to turn my whole attention, and so I wondered how these writings throughout these years, not only has not aged at all, but besides had acquired a beating actuality, taking into account we are in the globalization era, where the right to be informed has not been enough to persuade to many people about the hazardous circumstances of being ruled and manipulated for the pleasant populism's swan's song.

If you are a newcomer reader and had not the chance to appreciate this lucid essay of this thinker, it's time for you to go behind this indispensable text.

There are issues we forget due we assume them unthinkable to happen.
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