HITLER AND STALIN: Parallel Lives by Alan Bullock
Kirkus Star

HITLER AND STALIN: Parallel Lives

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

A masterpiece by Bullock (Ernest Bevin, 1984, etc.) that covers some of the most devastating events--as well as two of the most terrible personalities--of our century with breathtaking analytical power and narrative sweep. One of the most fruitful aspects of this dual biography is to reveal, for all the differences between Hitler and Stalin, how much they had in common. The differences were mainly in personality: Stalin the great calculator, Hitler the gambler; Stalin the master of bureaucracy, Hitler the artist-politician, hating routine; Stalin the sly, political Houdini, Hitler the charismatic leader. But their similarities were perhaps more significant. Both were guilty of crimes against humanity on a scale unprecedented in history: Like the Jews in Germany, peasant farmers in the Soviet Union were members of an outlawed class denied all human rights. The corruption in the heart of Nazism, according to Bullock, lay in its ends; in Communism, in its means. Neither Hitler nor Stalin, he believes, was mad. Both were entirely serious about their historic roles, the author says; skeptical about the motives of others, their cynicism stopped short of their own. But Hitler, at the end, was close to insanity; and Stalin had all the symptoms associated with paranoia--chronic suspicion, self-absorption, jealousy, hypersensitivity, and megalomania. Both men brought unprecedented suffering on their own people; the difference, Bullock notes, is that defeat exacted a terrible price from the German people, but at least spared them the continuation of Nazism, while victory cost the Russian people even more--but did not liberate them. A magnificent history, accessible and often moving. Bullock's mastery of research sources, his judgment, and his analytic powers prove him one of the great historians of our time.

Pub Date: March 31st, 1992
ISBN: 0679729941
Page count: 1024pp
Publisher: Knopf