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Robert Gellately is the Earl Ray Beck Professor of History at Florida State University and recently was the Bertelsmann Visiting Professor of Twentieth Century Jewish Politics and History at Oxford University. He is the author of The Gestapo and German Society: Enforcing Racial Policy, 1933--1945 and Backing Hitler: Consent and Coercion in Nazi Germany. He was born in St. John's, Newfoundland and lives in Tallahassee, Florida.
Historian Gellately's (Backing Hitler: Consent and Coercion in Nazi Germany) new work insists on Lenin's inclusion in any effort to understand the two major and deadly dictatorships of 20th-century Europe, Soviet communism and Nazism. Every horrendous act of the Stalin era had been seeded by Lenin, the author argues. Moreover, the Soviet and Nazi systems developed in tandem, each carefully eying the other, learning from each other, as they both reached an apex of brutality and terror. In developing this analysis, Gellately provides informed but somewhat plodding accounts of the two systems. Not all of the arguments stand up to scrutiny. "In the 1930s, the struggle between Communism and Nazism became a deadly rivalry for world domination," the author writes. But in the 1930s Stalin cared for little beyond the Soviet Union and was hardly bent on global conquest. Gellately's approach is relentlessly one-sided in its focus on ideology as the causative factor in history. Even the civil war that followed the Bolshevik revolution is treated as backdrop for the implementation of ideology, rather than as an earthquake-like event that well into the 1950s shaped the thinking of Soviet leaders. Gellately is better on the Third Reich, but overall this is an unsatisfying and uninspired history. 16 pages of photos. (Aug. 20) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
"Sophisticated . . . scholarly and very readable. . . . [Gellately] rips up the accepted versions of this terrible period and analyzes it on the evidence that we now have." --Simon Sebag Montefiore, The Washington Post Book World"Mr. Gellately sets a high standard for anyone writing about comparative dictatorship. . . . Lucid prose and vivid examples make the book admirably accessible to non-specialists." --The Economist "Intriguing. . . . An excellent overview of Nazi and Soviet totalitarianism. . . . Gellately performs a very useful public service." --The New York Sun "Clearly written and massive documented. . . . the full story has finally been told." --The Buffalo News