Claudia Moscovici's Reviews > Hitler and Stalin: Parallel Lives

Hitler and Stalin by Alan Bullock
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it was amazing

I used to teach Alan Bullock's "Hitler and Stalin: Parallel Lives" in courses about totalitarianism. Contrary to many other college textbooks, which tend to date rather quickly, this history book seems timeless. Bullock offers a monumental social biography of two of the most evil dictators in human history as well as an epic sketch of an era. Although the author specializes in Hitler, his grasp of Stalin is equally impressive. It rivals, in fact, Robert Conquest's "The Great Terror" in its thoroughness and depth.

As the title suggests, Bullock alternates chapters on Hitler with those on Stalin. He reveals how each dictator relied on his powers of manipulation, deception and opportunism to rise to power and spread totalitarian regimes meant to wipe out the human spirit and large parts of humanity itself across the world. The book also explains how Hitler and Stalin initially operated within the systems which they later (mis)used for their own selfish and nefarious goals. Whatever their rhetoric and ideology, both sociopathic tyrants ultimately craved power for its own sake, at the expense of everyone else, even the causes (and allies) they initially claimed to support.

Bullock's "Hitler and Stalin: Parallel Lives" gives us a detailed, compelling and extremely informative portrait of the faces of evil. It is an indispensable book for all those who want to understand how totalitarian regimes function and the role sociopathic dictators play in changing the course of history. As luck would have it, sociopaths are too self-serving and power-hungry to form lasting alliances. Had Hitler and Stalin not turned on each other, totalitarianism might have triumphed across the globe. As Winston Churchill famously stated in a speech after the German invasion of the Soviet Union: "If Hitler invaded Hell I would make at least a favorable reference to the devil in the House of Commons."

Claudia Moscovici,
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Finished Reading
January 24, 2010 – Shelved

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message 1: by Alex (last edited Apr 28, 2011 03:03PM) (new) - added it

Alex >...each dictator relied on his powers of
> manipulation, ... deception and opportunism to
>rise to power

IMHO, it is necessary to note that unfortunately and to the shame of German people, Hitler came to power through the democratic election process on 07/31/1932 via popular support.

Below is the extract from Wikipedia

"The German parliamentary election of 31 July 1932, saw great gains by the Nazi Party (National Socialist German Workers Party, NSDAP ), which for the first time became the largest party in parliament
NSDAP election results
Vote percentage (change) Seats (change)
37.8% +19.0% 230 +123

Stalin, on another hand, was handed the power from the top as a self proclaimed successor to Lenin (without any democratic elections at all).

So while Russia never was (up to now, inclusively) a democratically ruled country, Germany (as Weimar Republic) for 14 years (from 1919) was.

Here is another extract from Wikipedia
Germany's period of liberal democracy lapsed in the early 1930s, leading to the ascent of the NSDAP and Adolf Hitler in 1933. Although the constitution of 1919 was never officially repealed, the legal measures taken by the Nazi government in February and March 1933, commonly known as Gleichschaltung ("coordination") meant that the government could legislate contrary to the constitution. The constitution became irrelevant; thus, 1933 is usually seen as the end of the Weimar Republic and the beginning of Hitler's Third Reich."

Also it is important to note that the majority of victims of Stalin's regime was among the population of his own country (USSR), while the majority of Hitler's victims were people of other (than Germany) countries.
Stalin did not openly supported and conducted the policy of Genocide, while Hitler did.
As every one (I hope) knows, Hitler's policy of Genocide was directed towards extermination of Jews (Holocaust - 6 millions of Jewish lives lost) and Gypsies.

Also, if someone wants to get the idea of the Stalin psychology (as a dictator) I suggest to read "Children of the Arbat" by Anatoly Rybakov.

message 2: by Andrew (new)

Andrew Multumesc de review! M-am hotarat sa-l cumpar si sa-l citesc. Initial voiam doua biografii separate despre cei doi, dar daca ma gandesc mai bine, asta ar fi alegerea mai buna.

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