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The Origins of Totalitarianism Paperback – March 21, 1973
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—Karl Jaspers, in a letter to Hannah Arendt (1955) --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
The book is divided into three main sections: Antisemitism, Imperialism, and Totalitarianism. In the first section, Arendt tracks the rise of antisemitism in Europe, looking mainly at 19th Century events and situations that aided the spread of this phenomenon through European culture. The Dreyfus Affair, which sharply divided France and ultimately became a political battle between antisemites and their opponents at the end of the 19th Century, gets more attention than any other event in this chapter.
In the middle section on imperialism, Arendt shows how the rise and fall of the continental European imperialist movements of the 19th Century (mainly, Pan-Germanism and Pan-Slavism) helped set the stage for their 20th Century totalitarian successors. As she puts it in opening the chapter on "the Pan Movements": "Nazism and Bolshevism owe more to Pan-Germanism and Pan-Slavism (respectively) than to any other ideology or political movement. This is most evident in foreign politics, where the strategies of Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia have followed so closely the well-known programs of conquest outlined by the pan-movements before and during the first World War that totalitarian aims have frequently been mistaken for the pursuance of some permanent German or Russian interests. While neither Hitler nor Stalin has ever acknowledged his debt to imperialism in the development of his methods of rule, neither has hesitated to admit his indebtedness to the pan-movements' ideology or to imitate their slogans.Read more ›
The first section of the book deals with antisemitism which Miss Arendt argues was a cornerstone of later totalitarianism. She argues that the gradual development of mass culture and mass politics resulted in targeting and scapegoating any target minority such as Jews. She explains that antisemitism was a gradual political movement that exploded in the late 19th and especially in the 20th century. A different thesis could have been presented, but thus far this is the best one this reviewer has read.
Part two of the book explains how imperialism and racism merged especailly during the Age of Nationalism. Religious discord was replaced by sociological and political theories that not only extolled nation but also race and blood. This section deals with these two concepts both in Western Europe and Eastern Europe. One must remember that persecution of Jews was particulary lethal in Eastern Europe between World War I and World War II and espeically during The Second World War.
Part three of the book is the best section of THE ORIGINS OF TOTALITARIANISM. If readers have difficutly with sections one and two of this book, they owe it to themselves to at least read section three.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
According to Hannah Arendt, Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia created totalitarian political systems. Read morePublished 4 days ago by SockPuppet
Hannah Arendt is my new hero. She knows the facts and shares them in almost poetic prose.Published 6 days ago by truth seeker
A profound thinker who given her identity, shows impressive concern for truth and justice as well as personal courage in her analysis on antisemitism. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Christina Vlahoutsikou
Totalitarianism is a human enterprise difficult to explain but possible to comprehend. This work of Hannah Arendt helps the reader in understanding this human... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Marcus
Every page held my interest. This book is much more then a history of totalitarianism. It tells how it happened and puts Hitler and Stalin where they belong, in a culture made for... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Kindle Customer
I've begun enthusiastically reading the book but can't help being put off by the cheap paper used in its production. Read morePublished 5 months ago by smc