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As a study of the epochal nature of fascism, Professor Nolte's massive work is remarkable in a number of ways. First and foremost, it presents a highly detailed historical summary of the Action Francaise, Italian Fascism, and National Socialism. Within each of these movements, it offers three brilliant biographical accounts concerning France's Charles Maurras, Mussolini, and Hitler. Further, it demonstrates the metapolitical nature of fascism from the French Revolution through various components of 19th century thought onwards to the era of the world wars. In doing so, it ultimately establishes that the ""experience of fascism and its hostile proximity to bolshevism... caused the traditional ways of political thought to develop new fronts and new issues."" Thus it touches deeply and intricately not only the Rightist extremity of European totalitarianism, but also the counter-pull of Leftist ideology as well as that of democratic liberalism. Professor Nolte describes his methodology as akin to phenomenological analysis, and throughout while he illuminates the most minute particles of socio-economic events and brilliantly dissects the complementary rise of racism, nationalism and the military temper, he does so always from an underlying philosophical perspective. His book is both scholarly and adventurous, making splendid use of little known material, such as Hitler's Table Talk or the work of Dietrich Eckart, Mussolini's early contacts with Leninists, and so forth. And the study of Maurras, with his roots in de Maistre or Taine, surely could not be better. Unfortunately, the Professor's style is grimly Germanic, but fortunately never too grim to impede a work of unquestionable value.

Pub Date: Jan. 10th, 1965
Publisher: Holt, Rinehart & Winston