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Posted May 10, 2004
While I hesitate (based on my lack of credentials in the area) to characterize this relatively short work as 'brilliant', I have overcome my reserve after a second reading. It is informative, insightful and remarkably topical. Unlike the encyclopaedic history on the movement by Stanley Payne, this book attempts (and accomplishes) a lucid synthesis of the 'essence' of this political scheme. While the various fascist analogues are explored and expounded upon in lucid depth (e.g., the Croate Ustacha movement), the author avoids a tedious catalogue of trivial and pedantic data in his synopsis. He devises many quotable aphorisms during his exposition and cleverly defers a definition of the term until the end of the book, while repeatedly noting the difficulties involved in defining a movement that lacked a coherent intellectual foundation from it's beginning. After careful reading of the book, the final definition and necessary points for including a movement under the 'fascist' rubric are ineluctably obvious. The inevitable (and retrospectively sophomoric) tendency to use the term as an epithet was revealed as either a simple rhetorical device or, more likely, a lack of understanding of the concepts. Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of the book was the extension to more modern phenomena, such as religious terrorist movements and some current governments. The parallels to Islamicist systems were, to me, quite striking, though the analogy to the present Israeli government was less convincing. In summary, this was an outstanding work and should be carefully studied by all students of the subject.
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