Totalitarianism offers a penetrating chronicle of the central concept of our era--an era shaped by our conflict first with fascism and then with communism. Interweaving the story of intellectual debates with the international history of the twentieth century, Gleason traces the birth of the term to Italy in the first years of Mussolini's rule. Created by Mussolini's enemies, the word was appropriated by the Fascists themselves to describe their program in what turned out to be one of the less totalitarian of the European dictatorships. He follows the growth and expansion of the concept as it was picked up in the West and applied to Hitler's Germany and the Soviet Union. Gleason's account takes us through the debates of the early postwar years, as academics in turn adopted the term--most notably Hannah Arendt. The idea of totalitarianism came to possess novelists such as Arthur Koestler (Darkness at Noon) and George Orwell (whose Nineteen Eighty-Four was interpreted by conservatives as an attack on socialism in general, and subsequently suffered criticism from left-leaning critics). The concept entered the public consciousness still more fully with the opening of the Cold War, as Truman used the rhetoric of totalitarianism to sell the Truman Doctrine to Congress. Gleason takes a fascinating look at the notorious brainwashing episodes of the Korean War, which convinced Americans that Communist China too was a totalitarian state. As he takes his account through to the 1990s, he offers an inner history of the Cold War, revealing the political charge the term carried for writers on both the left and right. He also explores the intellectual struggles that swirled around the idea in France, Germany, Italy, Czechoslovakia, and Poland. When the Cold War drew to a close in the late 1980s, Gleason writes, the concept lost much of its importance in the West even as it flourished in Russia, where writers began to describe their own collapsing state as totalitarian--though left-wing Western thinkers continued to resist doing so. Ideal for courses in politics and modern history, Totalitarianism provides a fascinating account of one of the most enigmatic yet compelling ideas of our time.
"A full survey of the shifts in meaning the word 'totalitarianism' has undergone--from its invention in Fascist Italy in the 1920s to its recent adoption by Russian intellectuals to describe the Communism under which they lived before 1991."--The New York Times Book Review "Gleason has given us the contemporary equivalent of Hannah Arendt's The Origins of Totalitarianism....An essential, fascinating, and thought-provoking work of intellectual history."--Kirkus Reviews "A perceptive and wide-ranging history of the term and the idea of 'totalitarianism,' in the context of the cold war and beyond.... An excellent source book and guide to the history of a term and a concept, and a valuable document of the moral-political development of a generation."--The New Republic "Abbott Gleason's Totalitarianism is a thorough, dispassionate treatment of the ways in which that term has been applied in political analysis, from the first proud boasts of Giovanni Gentile and Benito Mussolini to the tortured attempts of post-cold war eastern European intellectuals to categorize life under Soviet domination. Along the way, Gleason discusses the views of a vast range of thinkers from Giovanni Amendola to Vaclav Havel, displaying a remarkable intellectual range and a profound understanding of a subject that has for so long remained an analytical and epistemological tangle."--Leslie Kitchen, The Boston Book Review "A full survey of the shifts in meaning the word 'totalitarianism' has undergone--from its invention in Fascist Italy in the 1920s to its recent adoption by Russian intellectuals to describe the Communism under which they lived before 1991."--The New York Times Book Review "Gleason has given us the contemporary equivalent of Hannah Arendt's The Origins of Totalitarianism....An essential, fascinating, and thought-provoking work of intellectual history."--Kirkus Reviews "A serious and thoughtful examination of a complex conceptual and politically sensitive issue."--Zbigniew Brzezinski, Center for Strategic and International Studies "Professor Gleason's study of totalitarianism is an outstanding treatment of the complex and contentious subject. What gives it special value is that it contains a thoughtful and succinct analysis of the theories of totalitarianism and at the same time deals equally successfully with the practical politics of totalitarian systems and states."--Adam B. Ulam, Gurney Professor of History and Political Science, Harvard University Russian Research Center "An excellent discussion of the world-wide controversies around totalitarianism which are so fundamental for explaining the most destructive dictatorships of our century. As there is no 'end of history' after the fall of totalitarian empires in 1945 and in 1989, the threat and temptation of totalitarian ideologies and methods remain a reality of postfascist and postcommunist politics at the end of this troubled century. Abbott Gleason's balanced historical analysis helps to reappraise a terrible past and to understand its grave lessons."--Karl Dietrich Bracher, Professor of Political Science and Contemporary History, University of Bonn "Fair-minded and complete, lucidly summarizing the work of French, Italian, German, Russian, and American scholars."--The Baltimore Sun "A thoughtful examination of the idea of the radically intrusive "total state"....insightful reviews of the work of Hannah Arendt, Jacob Talmon, and Raymond Aron, among many others."--Foreign Affairs
Number Of Pages: 320
Published: 1st February 1997
Publisher: Oxford University Press Inc
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 22.76 x 14.61 x 2.39
Weight (kg): 0.46