An eminently readable survey of the history of fascism. Works on fascism continue to proliferate, demonstrating the public's continuing fascination with the subject. Eatwell (Social Sciences/Univ. of Bath, England) offers a broad introduction, covering fascist movements in France, Italy, Germany, and England. These four countries provide the basis for a comparative analysis seeking to identify what fascism was and why it succeeded in Italy and Germany but was a failure in France and England. Eatwell chronicles fascism's roots, its growth between the world wars, its triumph and decline, and its lingering presence after 1945. He depends on secondary sources, but as this is a wide-ranging work of synthesis rather than an original analysis, this is not a great defect. (The notes reveal the author's familiarity with the latest interpretations.) Eatwell's theoretical framework is outlined in the introduction: Popular images of fascism in our culture, defined mostly by how it functioned rather than what it advocated, tell only part of the story. According to Eatwell, behind the irrational facade there lay ``a coherent body of thought'' with roots in the late 19th century, which drew from the theories of both the left and the right and claimed to offer an intensely nationalistic, radical `` `Third Way' which was neither capitalist nor communist.'' Fascism, he reminds us, appealed to some of the seminal intellectuals of the 20th century, including Martin Heidegger in Germany and Giovanni Gentile in Italy (although, contrary to Eatwell's claim, support from a philosopher does not automatically confer rationality), and a failure to take fascism seriously makes it more difficult to understand how this ultimately corrosive ideology took hold. He concludes by tracing the resurgence in recent years of openly fascist political parties and the proliferation of ``Holocaust denial'' material, noting grimly that ``the fascist tradition remains very much alive and kicking.'' An important contribution to the subject, useful to both the general reader and the specialist.

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-713-99147-X

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1996

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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Bibliophiles will love this fact-filled, bookish journey.


An engaging, casual history of librarians and libraries and a famous one that burned down.

In her latest, New Yorker staff writer Orlean (Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend, 2011, etc.) seeks to “tell about a place I love that doesn’t belong to me but feels like it is mine.” It’s the story of the Los Angeles Public Library, poet Charles Bukowski’s “wondrous place,” and what happened to it on April 29, 1986: It burned down. The fire raged “for more than seven hours and reached temperatures of 2000 degrees…more than one million books were burned or damaged.” Though nobody was killed, 22 people were injured, and it took more than 3 million gallons of water to put it out. One of the firefighters on the scene said, “We thought we were looking at the bowels of hell….It was surreal.” Besides telling the story of the historic library and its destruction, the author recounts the intense arson investigation and provides an in-depth biography of the troubled young man who was arrested for starting it, actor Harry Peak. Orlean reminds us that library fires have been around since the Library of Alexandria; during World War II, “the Nazis alone destroyed an estimated hundred million books.” She continues, “destroying a culture’s books is sentencing it to something worse than death: It is sentencing it to seem as if it never happened.” The author also examines the library’s important role in the city since 1872 and the construction of the historic Goodhue Building in 1926. Orlean visited the current library and talked to many of the librarians, learning about their jobs and responsibilities, how libraries were a “solace in the Depression,” and the ongoing problems librarians face dealing with the homeless. The author speculates about Peak’s guilt but remains “confounded.” Maybe it was just an accident after all.

Bibliophiles will love this fact-filled, bookish journey.

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4767-4018-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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