The Anatomy of Fascism

The Anatomy of Fascism

Book - 2004
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Baker & Taylor
An analysis of fascism seeks to clarify its ideological foundations, the leaders and historical situations that have enabled its prosperity, its various manifestations in numerous countries, and the peculiarities of the elected fascist governments in Germany and Italy. 20,000 first printing.

Blackwell North Amer
What is fascism? Many authors have proposed succinct but abstract definitions. Robert O. Paxton prefers to start with concrete historical experience. He focuses more on what fascists did than on what they said. Their first uniformed bands beat up "enemies of the nation," such as communists and foreign immigrants, during the tense days after 1918 when the liberal democracies of Europe were struggling with the aftershocks of World War I. Fascist parties could not approach power, however, without the complicity of conservatives willing to sacrifice the rule of law for security.
Paxton makes clear the sequence of steps by which fascists and conservatives together formed regimes in Italy and Germany, and why fascists remained out of power elsewhere.
This book, based on a lifetime of research, will have a lasting impact on our understanding of twentieth-century history.

& Taylor

Presents a detailed political analysis of how twentieth century fascism took hold and thrived in certain European countries, such as Italy and Germany, and not in others.

Publisher: New York : Knopf, 2004
ISBN: 9781400040940
Characteristics: xii, 321 p. ; 25 cm


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Feb 01, 2019

Interesting article by Robert O. Paxton in the NYR of Books Dec 6/18 edition. It is a review of Eric Vuillard’s - The Order of the Day.

Dec 26, 2018

Still the best a book has done in fully defining and explaining what fascism and what is isn't. In less than 280 pages, Paxton gives a historical, cultural, political and social rundown of fascism, from its earliest roots in the late 1800s to its offspring in contemporary movements today. Using the two most infamous and successful fascist movements -- the Nazi Party of Germany and the Italian Fascist movement of Benito Mussolini -- as barometers, Paxton explores every possible aspect of what "fascism" is and is not. Somehow Paxton has managed to balance the enormous wealth of primary and secondary sources he has drawn upon with a succinctness in writing that makes this a deep but mostly compelling, if at times dry and overwhelming, reading. A must for anyone who wants to gain a better understanding of 1914-1945 Europe. The Bibliographical Essay is especially of interest to serious students.

Jeff Corley*
Nov 26, 2018

Maybe one of the better books ever written on the subject. Paxton explains the difference between a simple authoritarian dictatorship and fascism. The need for a revolutionary spirit and popular engagement and the desire for a prerogative state to act along with the normative state is also illuminating. Also worth it just for the breakdown of how those movements took hold in Germany and Italy but not somewhere like France where it also had popular support. It is very dry but still very interesting.

Mark_Daly Aug 15, 2017

This is a work of analysis, not history. Readers seeking a chronological account may find this choppy and repetitive. The final chapter gives advice for distinguishing fascisms from other perversions of politics. Detailed but brief: An annotated bibliography, endnotes, and an index fill the last 100 pages.

Aw_19 Nov 12, 2016

Brilliant analysis of the 20th century's most powerful and destructive political ideologies.

If you want to understand what fascism was and why it's still possible, then this is the place to start.

Though I will say it helps to have a basic knowledge of interwar Europe.

Nov 02, 2013

Vichy France is a great book about the Petain years in France, and the Anatomy of Fascism is equally fine on the various fascist movements in Europe before the war. I especially liked Paxton's discussion of Mussolini's Italy.

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Dec 26, 2018

zenboy627 thinks this title is suitable for 18 years and over


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Mark_Daly Aug 15, 2017

Fascism [for one observer] meant setting aside democracy and due process in public life, to the acclamation of the street.


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