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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Outstanding Overview
Paxton's "Anatomy of Fascism" is, in fact, more than an overview or introduction. It is focused on real Fascism in Italy and Germany from c. 1919-45 (but with adequate consideration of later developments and possible 'Fascisms' elsewhere). It is a scholarly and highly perceptive analysis of Fascism - by far the best that I've encountered so far anywhere. In a word, it is...
Published on 15 July 2011 by J. Gordon

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0 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not an easy read
I bought Archie Brown's "The Rise and Fall of Communism" and could hardly put it down. I bought this book as it is on the opposite political spectrum. I found it a difficult read and struggled to finish it. I found it irritating that the author did not define fascism until the last three pages.
Published on 13 July 2010 by Rugby leaguer


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Outstanding Overview, 15 July 2011
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This review is from: The Anatomy of Fascism (Paperback)
Paxton's "Anatomy of Fascism" is, in fact, more than an overview or introduction. It is focused on real Fascism in Italy and Germany from c. 1919-45 (but with adequate consideration of later developments and possible 'Fascisms' elsewhere). It is a scholarly and highly perceptive analysis of Fascism - by far the best that I've encountered so far anywhere. In a word, it is brilliant.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Worthwhile Introduction, 18 May 2011
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Drew (Bristol, U.K.) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Anatomy of Fascism (Paperback)
Paxton's work on fascism serves as an excellent and well-written introduction to the subject, and therefore is a great starting point for anyone studying the subject or merely exploring an interest.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brushing Away the Cobwebs of Confusion, 28 Mar 2008
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This review is from: The Anatomy of Fascism (Paperback)
Fascism is the most misunderstood and abused political term around. It's almost as if no two people have the same understanding.

This confusion, some of it willfully induced in my opinion, has, in turn, led to further multiple confusions to the extent that, today, we have commentators who seriously suggest that people like Fini, Griffin, Le Pen and Haidar do not stand in a fascist political tradition but that Islamists, to pick one of the more obvious examples, do stand in the fascist tradition.

How did we get into this pickle and, more importantly, how do we get out of it?

Robert Paxton's 'Anatomy of Fascism' goes a long way to helping guide us out of the fog.

Firstly, Paxton deals with recent writers on fascism such as Sternhell, Payne, de Felice and Roger Griffin to understand why they are not quite adequate in their analysis. Paxton also directs his fire on the more commonly understood 'totalitarian' analysis of the Cold War era which sought to equate fascism and communism.

Paxton rejects the way some historians have offered separate definitions of fascism and Nazism, arguing that this leads to the study of fascism in isolation from other factors. Analyses which reduce fascism to a tool of a particular interest group, meanwhile, ignore the fact that the movement won independent popular backing. Instead Paxton proposes to examine the development of fascism through five stages: the creation of a movement; its rooting in the political system; the seizure of power; the exercise of power; its fate in the long term (radicalisation or entropy).

Paxton is quite clear that fascist movements are autonomous movements that come to power with the aid of the existing liberal/conservative elite at time of social, economic and political crisis and where the democratic institutions of the state seem unable to resolve such a crisis.

I do have one quibble with Paxton. He fails to adequately address the analyses of fascism related to social class. He does not mention, and perhaps is unaware of, the analyses of the rise of fascism offered in the writings of Leon Trotsky which remain the sharpest analysis from the era of the height of fascism.

But that's a small quibble compared to the plusses that Paxton offers. Paxton is astute enough to realise that the rise of fascism today may not necessarily come from the wannabes of the likes of the BNP but might also arise from other forces in much the same 'organic' fashion that the original Italian fascism did. One can't help thinking here of the former left/liberal members of the commentariat who are rushing politically Rightwards.

He also gives short shrift to the politically illiterate, yet fashionable, notion of Islamo-fascism.

As Paxton finishes: `Armed by historical knowledge, we may be able to distinguish today's ugly but isolated imitations, with their shaved heads and swastika tattoos, from authentic functional equivalents in the form of a mature fascist-conservative alliance. Forewarned, we may be able to detect the real thing when it comes along'.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Poised to become the standard on the subject, 26 Jan 2006
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This review is from: The Anatomy of Fascism (Paperback)
Fascism set of a tidal wave of ink says Robert O. Paxton in his bibliographical essay at the end of his rather excellent book on Fascism. I would almost wager that you could skip reading this ‘wave of ink’ and exclusively stick to Paxton’s book. It is poised to become the standard on the subject. Paxton covers the subject from its roots in the nineteenth century to almost today. Even though he does spend quite some time on Mussolini’s and Hitler’s brand of Fascism, as one would expect, Paxton also covers the less successful Fascists regimes and why those failed..
Fascism as a term appears to have been applied to all sorts of political groupings and regimes since 1945. Paxton goes through the lot and doesn’t find a single one – with one possible exception – which could be labeled Fascist in the historical definition of the concept. There has been a lot of praise for this book. It is indeed a rather excellent analysis on the topic.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Highly Perceptive and Brilliant Analysis of fascism written in Scholarly fashion!, 24 Jun 2013
By 
Matloub Husayn-Ali-Khan "Matloub" (South Yorkshire, Sheffield, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Anatomy of Fascism (Paperback)
This book certainly provides a brilliant, scholarly and highly perceptive analysis of fascism. The book clearly mentions the origins of fascism from its nineteenth century roots to the 'real' fascism in Italy and Germany from 1919-45. Generally speaking, most writers define their subject matter at the beginning: Robert O. Paxton leaves this to the end of the book - although he defines the word fascism as being taken from Italian: 'fascio', literally a bundle of sheaf, as I remember from my student days and I also can recall that this was taken from Latin meaning Fasces, an axe encased in a bundle of rods.

More importantly, Paxton's viewpoint differs markedly from many other writers on the subject in that he suggest that fascism should not be studied in isolation from other factors. He stresses that fascism should not be just viewed as a tool of a particular interest group and at the same time this tends to be a popular movement. Paxton concentrates on examining the development of fascism through five stages: "creating fascist movements; taking root; getting power; exercising power and the long-term (radicalisation or entropy)". In a sense, he (Paxton) argues that fascist movements tend to develop autonomously and they do get support from some of the existing liberal and conservatives elite at times of social, economic and political upheaval or crisis and when many of the democratic institutions within the state are unable to resolve the crisis. However, Paxton makes very brief references to the Marxist school of thought and which clearly offers the most sharpest analysis of fascism through the writings of Leon Trotsky (1879-1940) - who had lived through it from its height in Italy and Germany from 1919 to 1940s.

Overall, Paxton'ss analysis of fascism takes account of some of the more recent developments in Britain like the rise of the British National Party (BNP) 'wannabe' fascist groups as arising from other forces through which Emile Durkheim termed "Organic Solidarity" (dominant in more advanced societies) and "Mechanical Solidarity" (dominant in more traditional societies) as the original Italian fascist movements did. Interestingly, the recent rise in the neo-fascist movements like the English Defence League (EDL) (not mentioned in the book) have branded Islamic Fundamental movements like Al-Qaeda and Taliban as fascist. Paxton's answer to this, as according to the book: "... they are not reactions against a malfunctioning democracy. Arising in traditional hierarchical societies, their unity is, in terms of Emile Durkheim's famous distinction, more mechanical than organic. Above all, they have not "given up free institutions, since they never had any." On the question of what is Fascism? The answer in the book, clearly states that "Fascist actions are best from those actions for some of them remain unstated and implicit in fascist public language" which Paxton terms as "Mobilising Passions".

Finally, Paxton concludes: "...that when fascist are close to power when conservatives begin to borrow their techniques, appeal to their "mobilising passions" and try to co-opt the fascist following..." It is due to "having the historical knowledge" that we may be able to separate the 'wannabe' fascists "...with their shaved heads and swastika tattoos, from authentic functional equivalents in the form of a mature fascist-conservative alliance..." A must buy and read book!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Comprehensive analysis, 5 Jun 2013
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C. Frater (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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Well worth the read, avoids the usual stereotypes and concentrates on the actuality of the subject. Would reccomend to all
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5.0 out of 5 stars Most comprehensive book i've read on fascism, 17 Jan 2011
By 
Mr. L. R. Cook (UK, Bath) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Anatomy of Fascism (Paperback)
Absolutely fantastic book on fascism. In depth, detailed and covers all kinds of fascism in Europe. If your studying fascism this will definately be useful.
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1 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fist in the face by any other name......?, 3 May 2009
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Bloodnock (Melbourne, Aus) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Anatomy of Fascism (Paperback)
This certainly is a perfect introduction to an extremely complex subject - but I hate to admit that I did find Paxton a trifle over simplistic at times.
But if you're looking toward a literary exploration into 20th Century European tyranny, fascism and totalitarianism - then this book is an ideal starting point.
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0 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not an easy read, 13 July 2010
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This review is from: The Anatomy of Fascism (Paperback)
I bought Archie Brown's "The Rise and Fall of Communism" and could hardly put it down. I bought this book as it is on the opposite political spectrum. I found it a difficult read and struggled to finish it. I found it irritating that the author did not define fascism until the last three pages.
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The Anatomy of Fascism
The Anatomy of Fascism by Robert O. Paxton (Paperback - 24 Feb 2005)
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