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Hitler and Stalin: Parallel Lives Paperback – November 2, 1993

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The lives of, arguably, the 20th century's most evil dictators unfold in tandem in this continually absorbing masterpiece of historical exposition and the biographer's art, a History Book Club main selection in cloth.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

This is a huge and masterful dual biography of two of the most monstrous personalities of this century. Bullock, whose Hitler: A Study in Tyranny ( LJ 2/15/64) truly deserves its designation as a classic, has produced a smoothly written study of how these two lives ran parallel and how they intertwined to affect the lives of millions in the first half of this century. One would expect Bullock to know Hitler, but his grasp of Stalin and his times is also impressive. In chapters alternately dealing with Hitler and then Stalin, Bullock analyzes how each man achieved and then used power for his own twisted goals. It is chilling to realize that both men rose within legitimate institutions, each "playing the game" by the established rules. Hitler's evil empire collapsed with his death, Stalin's would live on to haunt the Soviet Union for decades. Essential for anyone seeking to understand the history of the West in this century. Highly recommended. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 11/1/91.
- Ed Goedeken, Purdue Univ. Libs., West Lafayette, Ind.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 1152 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Books (November 2, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679729941
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679729945
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 2.3 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #777,034 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

68 of 69 people found the following review helpful By Barron Laycock HALL OF FAME on October 29, 2000
Format: Paperback
What is most fascinating about this novel dual biographical approach toward understanding both Hitler and Stalin is the startling degree to which such an unorthodox approach illuminates one's understanding not only of their remarkable similarities, but also their philosophical, tactical, and personal differences. This truly is a fascinating and absorbing book, and it is well enough written that the narrative seems to spin along on its own strength, and we find ourselves captivated by the degree to which these two seem star-crossed in terms of their destinies. As Bullock deftly illustrates, the main differences between the two dictators were found in their personalities. Yet, even after all these crucial differences in both personal style and substance are considered, the degree to which they were similar is both remarkable and frightening to comprehend.
Stalin was a creature of bureaucracy, the ultimate insider, someone who knew how to use the organization bonding the Communist Party together for his own rise to prominence and power, an increasingly clever, adroit, and masterful practitioner of power politics. He was nothing if not careful, cautious, deliberate, and shrewd. Hitler, on the other hand, was a gambler, a masterful politician, a bold, easily bored, and endlessly distracted dreamer whose natural ability to charm, captivate, and enchant helped him to rise by extraordinary means.
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45 of 49 people found the following review helpful By Wheelchair Assassin on May 21, 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
"Hitler and Stalin" places two of history's most destructive figures side by side, telling their stories both individually and (periodically) in comparison. Bullock's technique makes for some mighty interesting reading, with a thorough examination of just how so many people came to their deaths through the whims of two men. Using their political careers as a window into Hitler's and Stalin's personalities, Bullock emerges having drawn a portrait of the similarities and differences between the two men, and how their characters led to the the events that defined their lives. The book also paints the lives of the two men in human and historical terms, making sure to document just how they managed to cause suffering on such a grand scale.
From their humble beginnings, Bullock examines how Hitler and Stalin managed to gain positions of absolute power over their respective countries. Stalin is portrayed as an almost shadowy figure, spending his early career lurking in the background behind the public figure of Lenin, waiting his chance while expertly playing the game of power politics. Hitler, on the other hand, is depicted as a gambler, taking chances he wasn't expected to take, attempting to seize power through calculated boldness and his fiery public persona. With both men, however, Bullock stresses how they succeeded by going just a little farther than others, capitalizing on their enemies' perceptions of what they would and would not do.
Another comparison Bullock draws between Hitler and Stalin lies in the men's complete lack of anything that could appropriately be described as human feeling or comparison. To both, as Bullock says, other people were simply objects to be manipulated or obstacles to be eliminated.
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful By KAL on September 20, 1997
Format: Paperback
To describe Sir Alan Bullock's Hitler and Stalin: Parallel Lives as a duel biography does not do it justice. It is no less than a history of the formation and evolution of the most violent and pathological dictatorships in the history the world, and an understanding of these dictatorships is necessary to an understanding of the twentieth century.

However, Sir Alan Bullock tells this story primarily through the two men whose efforts, paranoias, prejudicies, and impressive if ultimately evil intellects made their regimes possible. Without a doubt, he tells their stories masterfully, interweaving their lives within the context of twentieth century history and ideas yet maintaining their distinct personal and political identities, talents, and mistakes. His book is both interesting narrative and unquie analytical fair for both the general reader and specialist.

In their latest book, Stalinism and Nazism: Dictatorships in Comparison, Sir Ian Kershaw and Moshe Levin write of their subjects:

"Studying the history of inhumanity, perpetrated on such a vast, unprecedented scale, has an emotional and psychological cost. It is not like studying the history of philosohpy, the Renaissance, or the age of the cathedrals. The subject matter is less uplifting than almost any other conceivable topic of historical enquiry. But it is history al the same. And it is important. The emotional involvement has to be contained, even when the very effort to arrive at some balanced and reasoned interpretation seems an affront. . . There is nothing else . . . than to adhere to scholarly methods in the hope that knowledge might inform action to prevent any conceivable repetition of such political pathologies as characterised Stalinism and Nazism."

With his most recent work, Sir Alan Bullock has gone a long way toward achieving the ideals set forth by Kershaw and Lewin. I highly recommend this book
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