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Stalinism and Nazism: Dictatorships in Comparison Paperback – 12 Jan 2008

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'… [a] stimulating and thought-provoking collection.' History Today

Book Description

An internationally distinguished team of historians of Nazism and Stalinism provide a summary of the most up-to-date research and offer new perspectives on issues linking the two most terrible dictatorships of modern times.


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Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars 1 review
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting insights 9 July 2004
By Juha Lehtonen - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
The book sets a good basis for comparative sociology of power and legitimacy. It observes two dictators who at least these days seem to be the most despised leaders of the 20th century. Lewin and Kershaw have brought together a handful of WW II top scholars, whose articles jointly create a sturdy basis for understanding differences and similarities between the rules of Stalin and Hitler.

This brings me to an important point worked on in the introduction: Scholars of history need not keep their hands off comparisons. Actually, no historian can completely avoid comparing phenomena, so it is better to be explicit about the whole thing than hide it behind the illusionary curtain of pure historical description. Stalin and Hitler are often compared in literature, but almost never does this comparison rest on a strong theoretical foundation. It is just so easy to bunch up two non-western autocrats and say that they are similar, because they caused millions of deaths, or because they had many fanatic followers, and leave it there.

For me, the most interesting parts of the book were the chapters about leadership cults of Stalin and Hitler. For example Lewin, Mommsen and Kershaw show us how the leaders built their structures of authority. Hitler's system of power was doomed to fail. It was self-destructive. Stalin, on the other hand, was able and willing to channel part of his divine glamour for the benefit of state bureaucracy. However conflicting wishes of the bureaucrats and the paranoid will of Stalin may have often been, Stalin's death did not leave the whole Soviet system hanging in the void.

Summary: Good overview of the subject, lots of intriguing visions.
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