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Double Lives: Stalin, Willi Munzenberg and the Seduction of the Intellectuals Paperback – August 1, 2004
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Top Customer Reviews
He particularly concentrates upon the intellectual elite that fell under Munzenberg's sway in this cultural war against the West.
This includes such persons as Ernest Hemingway, John Steinbeck, Andre' Malraux, Andre' Gide, Pablo Picasso, Dorothy Parker, George Grosz, Lincoln Steffens, John Dos Passos, Bertolt Brecht, Lillian Hellman, Dashiell Hammett and Sidney and Beatrice Webb.
This volume shatters myth after historical myth of this critical period.
Munzenberg, Koch states, "developed what may well be the leading moral illusion of the twentieth century: the notion that in the modern age the principal arena of the moral life, the true realm of good and evil, is political."
The notion that - the ethical is the political - and that the highest form of ethical expression was "anti-fascism," - with the Soviet Union as the publicly-identified, ideologically most dedicated opponent of fascism, thus holding the moral high ground.
This myth was actually built upon the basest of lies.
As Koch demonstrates, from the earliest days of the National Socialist regime in Germany, beginning with the Reichstag Fire less than a month after Hitler became Chancellor, a sinister covert relationship existed between Nazi secret intelligence and their Soviet counterpart.Read more ›
It is really a good portrait of those grim times in Europe. It exposes the workings and everyday life of the real spies. It gives the "bad guys" you heard about or saw only in movies a real face. Full of detail that does not bore but expand the palette of colors.
Even if you are not interested in history or politics you should read this. I have tried to find other books on Muezenberg and I recently came across "The Red Millionaire" by Sean McMeekin, which I intend to read soon.
I think more investigating journalism should be done about other dark myths of our recent history. We have to look more critically at the people who want to mold our minds.
This is a very valuable book.
Stephen Koch's book, now available in its second printing (may there be a third!) highlights the communist undercover propaganda activities in the West that formed Moscow's ideological spearhead in the 1920s and 1930s. It tells the often tragic stories of the men and women doing the work who thought they were helping to create a better world and often ended up dangling from Stalin's gallows or as non-entities in the endless plains of the Gulag.
In the early days of the Bolshevik empire, this propaganda was aimed primarily at the capitalist countries, it was to promote the cause of the forgotten masses, to fight the lost but glorious causes of victims like Sacco and Vanzetti, to eliminate local rivals and to establish goodwill in intellectual circles. Capitalism was, obviously, the class enemy number one, but intially the campaign lacked a political foe, although Italian fascism, another liberatory ideology that sprang up after the first World War had at least given the enemy a name.
From that point of view, Hitler's sudden rise in Germany, spurred by the Depression which struck Germany hardest of all industrialized nations, was a godsend for communist cause. Now there was a way for Moscow to get a free entry ticket into the ruling circles of the Capitalist world.Read more ›
"He wanted to instill the feeling, like a truth of nature, that seriously to criticize or challenge soviet policy was the unfailing mark of a bad, bigoted, and probably stupid person, while support was equally infallible proof of a forward-looking mind committed to all that was best for humanity and marked by an uplifting refinement of sensibility" (p. 15). He did so by co-opting public opinion in democratic countries and then denying he'd actually done so. "He organized in all the media: newspapers, film, radio, books, magazines, the theater. Every kind of `opinion maker' was involved: writers, artists, actors, commentators, priests, ministers, professors, `business leaders,' scientists, psychologists, anyone at all whose opinion the public was likely to respect" (p. 15).
He shrewdly manipulated scores of left-leaning intellectuals, fellow travelers whom he disdainfully called the "innocents." He played upon man's hunger for righteousness, for an inner sense of making the world a better place.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Must reading for anyone interested in 20th century history.Published 10 months ago by Florence Kelly
Excellent book on one of the key Stalin's agents, and how he was betrayedPublished 14 months ago by alberto f.
This book should be required reading for any thinking person. A brilliant, necessary book.Published 17 months ago by Lucy Kostelanetz
I don't think it the least bit hyperbolic to say that anyone who learns about Willi Munzenberg and his work will feel his presence in todays political environment.Published on November 5, 2011 by Boo Radley
Probably the most astonishing item in this book comes from the author's interview with Babette (Willi Muenzenberg's wife) at the age of 91. Read morePublished on March 18, 2011 by Geoff Puterbaugh
Over all an interesting but fatally flawed book.
The writing is, in parts, truly appaling. Read more
The problem with Mr. Koch's entertaining thesis, that Hitler and Stalin colluded on releasing Dimitroff and having him exchanged for Germans in prison or detained in the Soviet... Read morePublished on January 9, 2007 by Michael S. Cullen