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Hitler and Stalin Reviews

Hitler and Stalin by Laurence Rees

Hitler and Stalin: The Tyrants and the Second World War

Laurence Rees

4.29 out of 5

4 reviews

Imprint: Viking
Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
Publication date: 29 Oct 2020
ISBN: 9780241295205

The bestselling historian on the dramatic wartime relationship - and shocking similarities - between two tyrants 'Laurence Rees brilliantly combines powerful eye-witness testimony, vivid narrative and compelling analysis in this superb account of how two terrible dictators led their countries in the most destructive and inhumane war in history

4 stars out of 5
19 Nov 2020

"explores similarities between the tyrants from Germany and Soviet Union"

He, the Fuhrer, dictated rather than discussed. That was his unique style. 'At crucial moments, he merely announced to his underlings what he had decided and then relied on his lack of selfdoubt and considerable powers of persuasion, allied to the authority of his office, to push through what he wanted.' Stalin, by contrast, was a charisma-free zone. No orator, he wielded power through the all-powerful communist party, with its endless committees that he bent to his will. He was a strong, silent type, letting others talk while he took in what they were saying. He was, according to Rees, 'an aggressive listener and an even more aggressive watcher', his eyes boring into those around him, probing for their weaknesses and, most of all, any hint of disloyalty.

Reviews

4 stars out of 5
17 Nov 2020

"As this book brilliantly shows, Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin were blood brothers."

“Fascism and Communism were the same”, the Russian soldier and Auschwitz survivor Pavel Stenkin told Rees. “One may disagree with this, but this is my opinion. I know this better than all.” He certainly did. While the Nazi Tweedledee could only be identified by the metal dental bridge in his mouth in 1945, the Soviet Tweedledum carried on his mirror-image rule until his death in March 1953, as he was characteristically planning to kill a group of Jewish doctors for supposedly plotting against him. As this book brilliantly shows, Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin were blood brothers.

5 stars out of 5
26 Oct 2020

"This brilliant parallel study of Hitler and Stalin collects the testimony of their henchmen and victims"

Rees’s decision to include plenty of personal stories in his narrative adds an important layer to our understanding, both of the dictators themselves and of their victims. He reminds us that the millions of dead, displaced, and maimed victims of the tyrants’ regimes are not just statistics, but real people – people like the 14-year-old Albert Burkovski, who was fetching water from the Volga river when, on August 23 1942, German warplanes first started to bomb the city of Stalingrad. He ran back to his grandmother’s house to find his home in ruins and his entire family wiped out in the largest air attack yet mounted on the Eastern front.

4 stars out of 5
David Aaronovitch
24 Oct 2020

"This fascinating history reminds us of the terrible symmetry between the two dictators"

That symmetry is the underlying theme of Laurence Rees’s new book, Hitler and Stalin, a relatively concise and always compelling account of how the two leaders conducted their existential war. This gives Rees a smaller canvas to work on than that chosen by the most famous bi-biographer of the two men, Alan Bullock. Bullock’s Hitler and Stalin: Parallel Lives, published in 1991, deserves the term “magisterial”. It is more than twice as long and examined its subjects from birth to extinction.