Lenin, Stalin, and Hitler: The Age of Social Catastrophe (Hardcover)
This remarkably ambitious book tells the story of the great social and political catastrophe that enveloped Europe between 1914 and 1945. In a period of almost continuous upheaval, society was transformed by two world wars, the Russian Revolution, the Holocaust, and the rise and fall of the Third Reich. Combining a powerful narrative with profound analysis, acclaimed historian Robert Gellately argues that these tragedies are inextricably linked and that to consider them as discrete events is to misunderstand their genesis and character. Central to the catastrophe, of course, were Lenin, Stalin, and Hitler, and this book makes use of recently opened Russian and German sources to explain how these dictators’ pursuit of utopian—and dreadfully flawed—ideals led only to dystopian nightmare.
In a groundbreaking work, Gellately makes clear that most comparative studies of the Soviet and Nazi dictatorships are undermined by neglecting the key importance of Lenin in the unfolding drama. Rejecting the myth of the “good” Lenin, the book provides a convincing social-historical account of all three dictatorships and carefully documents their similarities and differences. It traces the escalation of conflicts between Communism and Nazism, and particularly of the role of Hitler’s anathema against what he called “Jewish Bolshevism.” The book shows how the vicious rivalry between Stalin and Hitler led inescapably to a war of annihilation and genocide. The reverberations of this gargantuan struggle are felt everywhere to this day.
About the Author
Robert Gellately is the Earl Ray Beck Professor of History at Florida State University and was the Bertelsmann Visiting Professor of Twentieth-Century Jewish Politics and History at Oxford University in 2004–05. He is the author of The Gestapo and German Society: Enforcing Racial Policy, 1933–1945 and Backing Hitler: Consent and Coercion in Nazi Germany. He lives in Tallahassee, Florida.
Praise for Lenin, Stalin, and Hitler: The Age of Social Catastrophe…
"Sensible and sophisticated, scholarly and very readable. It's time to rip up the accepted versions of this terrible period and analyze it on the evidence that we now have. Gellately has done just that."
--Simon Sebag Montefiore, The Washington Post
"Mr. Gellately sets a high standard for anyone writing about comparative dictatorship . . . Lucid prose and vivid examples make the book admirably accessible to non-specialists. But it also engages expertly in one of the most closely fought historiographical battles of past decades."
"A most impressive account of the tragedies that befell the world during the first half of the twentieth century. Not the least merit of his book is that, unlike most historians who treat Lenin as a well-meaning idealist, he places him alongside Stalin and Hitler as a founder of modern barbarism."
--Richard Pipes, Baird Professor of History, Emeritus, Harvard University
"A very fine historian traces the deep historic connections between the presumed enemies, Communists and Nazis, noting their distinctiveness and similarities; a special virtue of his well-researched book is his emphasis on Lenin as the first monster in the monstrous period he depicts so well; the title notwithstanding, the book is also a social history of unprecedented suffering. A most readable and persuasive account, especially strong on the Soviet side."
--Fritz Stern, author of Gold and Iron