FASCISM by Roger Eatwell


A History
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 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. 1st, 1996
ISBN: 0-713-99147-X
Page count: 432pp
Publisher: Viking
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1st, 1996