The Anatomy of Fascism
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The Anatomy of Fascism

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Fascism was the major political invention of the twentieth century and the source of much of its pain. How can we try to comprehend its allure and its horror? Is it a philosophy, a movement, an aesthetic experience? What makes states and nations become fascist?Acclaimed historian Robert O. Paxton shows that in order to understand fascism we must look at it in action - at what it did, as much as what it said it was about. He explores its falsehoods and common threads; the social and political base that allowed it to prosper; its leaders and internal struggles; how it manifested itself differently in each country - France, Britain, the low countries, Eastern Europe, even Latin America as well as Italy and Germany; how fascists viewed the Holocaust; and, finally, whether fascism is still possible in today's world.Offering a bold new interpretation of the fascist phenomenon, this groundbreaking book will overturn our understanding of twentieth-century history.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 336 pages
  • 128 x 196 x 24mm | 280g
  • Penguin Books Ltd
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0141014326
  • 9780141014326
  • 109,630

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From the author of "Vichy France, a fascinating, authoritative history of fascism in all its manifestations, and how and why it took hold in certain countries and not in others.
What "is fascism? Many authors have proposed succinct but abstract definitions. Robert O. Paxton prefers to start with concrete historical experience. He focuses more on what fascists did than on what they said. Their first uniformed bands beat up "enemies of the nation," such as communists and foreign immigrants, during the tense days after 1918 when the liberal democracies of Europe were struggling with the aftershocks of World War I. Fascist parties could not approach power, however, without the complicity of conservatives willing to sacrifice the rule of law for security.
Paxton makes clear the sequence of steps by which fascists and conservatives together formed regimes in Italy and Germany, and why fascists remained out of power elsewhere. Fascist regimes were strained alliances. While fascist parties had broad political leeway, conservatives preserved many social and economic privileges. Goals of forced national unity, purity, and expansion, accompanied by propaganda-driven public excitement, held the mixture together. War opened opportunities for fascist extremists to pursue these goals to the point of genocide. Paxton shows how these opportunities manifested themselves differently in France, in Britain, in the Low Countries, and in Eastern Europe-and yet failed to achieve supreme power. He goes on to examine whether fascism can exist outside the specific early-twentieth-century European setting in which it emerged, and whether it can reappear today. This groundbreaking book, based on a lifetimeof research, will have a lasting impact on our understanding of twentieth-century history.
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Review quote

"So fair, so thorough and, in the end, so convincing, it may well become the most authoritative . . . study of the subject. . . . A splendid book." "-The New York Times Book Review" "Useful and timely. . . . Mussolini and Hitler were the prototypical fascist leaders, and Paxton chronicles their rise to power--and their global influence and ultimate fall--with a brilliant economy." -"San Francisco Chronicle" "A deeply intelligent and very readable book. . . . Historical analysis at its best." -"The Economist ""[A] helpful contribution, thoughtfully mapping out the descent of a civilized people -- first the Italians, then the Germans -- into a primal state (and state of being) ruled by mythology, symbol and emotion. . . . Serves as a reminder of our power and responsibility." -"The Washington Post Book World" "Until now there has been no satisfying account of fascism that includes a convincing diagnostic kit for identifying its symptoms. . . . Robert Paxton steps in to restore sanity, with his view that fascism is not what was believed but what was done." -"Los Angeles Times Book Review"
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About Robert O. Paxton

Robert O. Paxton is Mellon Professor Emeritus of the Social Sciences at Columbia University. His other books include Vichy France, Parades and Politics at Vichy, Europe in the Twentieth Century, and French Peasant Fascism. He lives in New York City.
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Rating details

1,066 ratings
4.13 out of 5 stars
5 38% (406)
4 42% (446)
3 16% (174)
2 3% (32)
1 1% (8)
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