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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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Book Details

ISBN: 9780141014326
ISBN-10: 0141014326
Format: Paperback
(198mm x 129mm x 19mm)
Pages: 336
Imprint: Penguin Books Ltd
Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
Publish Date: 24-Feb-2005
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

Other Editions


US Kirkus Review » An immensely learned consideration of "the major political innovation of the twentieth century, and the source of much of its pain." The folks at notwithstanding, George Bush is no Hitler, John Ashcroft likely no fascist. The looseness of terms and equations disguises the complexity of the deadly far-right ideology, which Paxton (Emeritus, Social Sciences/Columbia Univ.; Europe in the Twentieth Century, not reviewed, etc.) defines, quite comprehensively, as "a form of political behavior marked by obsessive preoccupation with community decline, humiliation, or victimhood and by compensatory cults of unity, energy, and purity, in which a mass-based party of committed nationalist militants, working in uneasy but effective collaboration with traditional elites, abandons democratic liberties and pursues with redemptive violence and without ethical or legal restraints goals of internal cleansing and external expansion." A mouthful, but Paxton ably demonstrates why precision is wanted here, having spent the preceding chapters analyzing the many brands of fascism on the world stage. The best known, of course, is the first: Mussolini's pompous, theatrical regime, which came to power a full decade before Hitler's; as Paxton writes, Mussolini coined the term fascismo and set the tone for many a dictatorship to come. These allied but subtly different fascisms shared a radicalism that belied their socialist origins, which has caused some historians to regard fascism as anticapitalist at heart. Not so, Paxton argues: Fascism was at once a revolt against the left and against liberal individualism and a slap in the face of old-school, elitist conservatism, whose exponents "wanted obedience and deference, not dangerous popular mobilization" of the sort that working-class fascism drew on. But, all the same, it was a very willing crony of big business, which was quite happy with the anti-leftist "new man" that once threatened to rule the world. A solid contribution to political literature, and of much interest to students of 20th-century history. (Kirkus Reviews)

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Author Biography - 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.

Books By Author Robert O. Paxton

Season of Infamy by Robert O. Paxton

Season of Infamy

Hardback, May 2016
Parades and Politics at Vichy by Robert O. Paxton

Parades and Politics at Vichy

Paperback, February 2016
Vichy France by Robert O. Paxton

Vichy France

Paperback, June 2001
French Peasant Fascism by Robert O. Paxton

French Peasant Fascism

Paperback, June 1997