Impulse reading is not something I usually do. My reading is usually planned out books in advance and dependent on what I need to review and books which have an associated interest for me. Little attention is paid to the release date of a work.

This book is an exception – though I’ve long meant to do more reading on fascism. Paul Gottfried is a political scientist whose writing I’ve liked when coming across it. Austere, clear, pointed, and willing to question assumptions others often didn’t know they were making, he can be found these days, after being kicked out of the National Review club, at Unz.com, a site full of writers of various political persuasions willing to question common wisdom.

So, after reading his criticism of Jonah Goldberg’s Liberal Fascism, a book I favorably reviewed (a review which seems to have vanished from Amazon and I have no copy) I wanted to read his take on the subject.

If you have to choose between the two books, go with Gottfried.

Review: Fascism: The Career of a Concept, Paul Gottfried, 2016.Fascism

The current career of the word “fascism” is to stand in

for a host of iniquities that progressives, multiculturalists, and libertarians all oppose, even if they offer no single, coherent account of what they’re condemning.

Gottfried wants to correct that and, in a greater sense, remind us that the terms Right and Left have “essentialist” meanings.

The literature on fascism is vast, and Gottfried mentions a lot of scholars on the subject. (My Kindle edition tells me that 58% of the book is notes and an index.) The predominant ones he uses are German Ernst Nolte and American A. James Gregor. They represent two views, respectively, that fascism was “a counterrevolutionary imitation of the revolutionary Left” and a “variant on Marxism” that used nationalism.

Nazis as Marxists? Continue reading

History’s Greatest War

This is certainly the oldest of the World War One histories I have, and it was around the house the longest. And when I say house, I mean growing up.

It was my maternal great-grandfather’s and seemingly purchased about 1920 by him.  I looked at it once or twice as a child but never read it though I did read some massive picture book about the war, probably by Reader’s Digest or American Heritage.

As an adult, though, I only started to become seriously interested in the war in 2002.

This book was reprinted in 2012, but I’ve linked to the original edition since the reprint doesn’t seem to have pictures — one of the selling points of the original.

As to the American Legion, let me emphasize that the American Legion is a fine organization. In my youth, I participated in Boys’ State and their speech contests. However, like many institutions and people in America during the 1930s, they expressed admiration for Mussolini. Fascism, of course, wasn’t then associated so much with violence or racism. (Italian Fascism never seemed to have a racial element.)

From what little I know, I suspect the Legion admired the social unity of Fascism if not its other explicit core idea, the unity of political and economic interests through governmental control, if not ownership, of businesses.

However, unlike many organizations, the Legion seems to have improved with age.

I’m also more skeptical now of my assertion that it was written specifically for the American Legion. Instead, I think it was intended for a general American and Canadian readership. Across from the title page, is a place to post a “Soldier’s Photograph” below the “Roll of Honor”. On the sides of that space are a star and maple leaf, seemingly American and Canadian symbols.

From December 13, 2009 …

Review: History’s Greatest War: A Pictorial Narrative, S. J. Duncan-Clark, 1919.img192

As history, this book leaves something to be desired. The opening chapter – “The Red Trail of Prussia” – seeks to blame World War One solely on Prussian ambition. The German people were the “docile tools of the Prussian dynasty”, a dynasty that only knew force to realize its ambitions. The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand was not, according to this book, the work of the Serbian Black Hand but a Prussian plot. Likewise, the resolve of the Russian court was weakened, allegedly, by pro-German sympathies. (And in the failed prophecy department, we are assured that Russian will soon take its place among the democratic nations of the world.)

Seemingly written for the new American Legion and published shortly after the final peace treaty was signed on June 28, 1919, this book emphasizes America’s role in the war. Thus, we get almost nothing on the sub-Saharan Africa theatre of the war or its casualties. The book emphasizes heavily the brief time America fought in the war. Only 157 out of 384 pages cover the war before America entered it – though Canadian involvement is also emphasized. The organization is puzzling. “The Aftermath of the Armistice” and “The Price of Victory” chapters are before the “How the Central Powers Fell” chapter. (I suspect the type was set before a last minute expansion of the book.) Sometimes, the prose repeats itself. Continue reading