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The Birth of Fascist Ideology

3 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0691044866
ISBN-10: 0691044864
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Editorial Reviews


"[This book] deserves to be read and, whatever one's reservations, to be considered seriously...[It] rectifies the stereotyped and narrowly derogatory image of a movement that was as representative and influential as its more acceptable contemporaries, and more original than many."--Eugen Weber, The New York Times Book Review

"[This] work obliges us to ground any study of fascism in the particular moment toward the end of the nineteenth century when politics expanded dizzily from a gentleman's hobby to a matter of mass opinion and votes. [Sternhell] shows irrefutably that fascist doctrine had complex cultural origins, drawing not only from conservative efforts to adapt to the novel requirements of mass politics,...but also from dissent within the left against the materialism, positivism, and reformism that mainstream Marxism shared with social democracy in the 1890s."--Robert O. Paxton, The New York Review of Books

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: French --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 348 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press (July 3, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0691044864
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691044866
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.9 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,701,658 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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26 of 29 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 6, 2003
Format: Paperback
After searching for a objective view of the development of this ideology I stumbled upon this book and was gratified by Zeev Sternhell's indepth educational coverage. The typical persistant sophistic demonizing of the philosphers and political ideologs, along with pharisee like critisism of the principles, myths and ideals of Fascism are thankfully nonexistant throughout the book. Instead Mr. Sternhell takes you from the early fomations in late nineteenth century France to the final solidification in post Great War Italy with meticulous perspicacity.
Misconceptions are dispelled--and Mr Sternhell should be thanked for his willingness to not only clearly and concisely separate Fascist principle from Nazi ideology but to also relate the surprising Italian Jewish contribution and memberships from before Fascism's move to government in 1922.
Names of philosphers and political scientists normally left out of other books on Fascism are given healthy coverage and should also be studied to fully understand why this non reactionary movement swept into popularity.
Finally I'd like to say that Mr Sternhell will convince you that parallel to Socialism and Liberalism, Fascism offered a original direction and answer to the development of European society and the problems that that development caused. It is as much the failures of Socialism and Liberalism to address and cure the problems that nineteen and twentieth century modernity created that successfully enacted the Birth of Fascist Ideology.
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Frank Szakaly on July 20, 2001
Format: Paperback
I had to read this book for a class on European Nationalism, and it was amazing. It took a very long time to read, as it is a hard book and a complex one, and discusses in-depth unfamiliar ideas and especially unfamiliar people. This, however, is what makes it so good: it is completely original, to me at least and I have read a fair number of history books over my undergraduate career. It is definitely worth picking up if you have any interest in modern European history, or especially if you are teach European history, have a discussion on this one!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By R. Albin TOP 1000 REVIEWER on October 26, 2013
Format: Paperback
This insightful book is a fascinating analysis of the development of Fascist ideology. This is Fascism with a capital F, describing specifically the development of the Italian version of fascism. Sternhell does not deal with the development of German fascism, though he clearly regards it as part of the same general cultural phenomenon. This is, none the less, an international story as Sternhell describes the major role of French intellectuals and the contribution of at least one German, the pioneering sociologist Robert Michels, though he spent much of his life in Italy.

The general theme is the rejection of Enlightenment rationalism and liberal political values around the turn of the 19th century. This was a pan-European process and knowledgeable readers will already be familiar with elements of this process in Germany and Austria from the work of George Mosse, Fritz Stern, and Carl Schorske. Those scholars dealt mainly with radical right wing attacks on rationalism and liberal values. Sternhell argues well that, at least in the case of the ideological changes underpinning Fascism, this was a general cultural phenomenon resulting in a more or less complete intellectual foundation for Fascism accepted by important intellectuals in France and Italy before WWI, and then realized by Mussolini and his followers after the war.

Sternhell shows how a major element of the flight from rationalism, liberal values, and towards authoritarianism came from the radical left. Sternhell locates a key source of the revolt against reason in the "crisis of Marxism" that occurred in the socialist movement at the end of the 19th century. The failure of Marx's predictions of capitalist collapse and the outmoded nature of his conceptions of economics led to varying attempts to "revise" Marx.
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