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Hitler and Stalin: The Tyrants and the Second World War

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An award-winning historian plumbs the depths of Hitler and Stalin's vicious regimes, and shows the extent to which they brutalized the world around them. Two 20th century tyrants stand apart from all the rest in terms of their ruthlessness and the degree to which they changed the world around them. Briefly allies during World War II, Adolph Hitler and Josef Stalin then An award-winning historian plumbs the depths of Hitler and Stalin's vicious regimes, and shows the extent to which they brutalized the world around them. Two 20th century tyrants stand apart from all the rest in terms of their ruthlessness and the degree to which they changed the world around them. Briefly allies during World War II, Adolph Hitler and Josef Stalin then tried to exterminate each other in sweeping campaigns unlike anything the modern world had ever seen, affecting soldiers and civilians alike. Millions of miles of Eastern Europe were ruined in their fight to the death, millions of lives sacrificed. Laurence Rees has met more people who had direct experience of working for Hitler and Stalin than any other historian. Using their evidence he has pieced together a compelling comparative portrait of evil, in which idealism is polluted by bloody pragmatism, and human suffering is used casually as a political tool. It's a jaw-dropping description of two regimes stripped of moral anchors and doomed to destroy each other, and those caught up in the vicious magnetism of their leadership.


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An award-winning historian plumbs the depths of Hitler and Stalin's vicious regimes, and shows the extent to which they brutalized the world around them. Two 20th century tyrants stand apart from all the rest in terms of their ruthlessness and the degree to which they changed the world around them. Briefly allies during World War II, Adolph Hitler and Josef Stalin then An award-winning historian plumbs the depths of Hitler and Stalin's vicious regimes, and shows the extent to which they brutalized the world around them. Two 20th century tyrants stand apart from all the rest in terms of their ruthlessness and the degree to which they changed the world around them. Briefly allies during World War II, Adolph Hitler and Josef Stalin then tried to exterminate each other in sweeping campaigns unlike anything the modern world had ever seen, affecting soldiers and civilians alike. Millions of miles of Eastern Europe were ruined in their fight to the death, millions of lives sacrificed. Laurence Rees has met more people who had direct experience of working for Hitler and Stalin than any other historian. Using their evidence he has pieced together a compelling comparative portrait of evil, in which idealism is polluted by bloody pragmatism, and human suffering is used casually as a political tool. It's a jaw-dropping description of two regimes stripped of moral anchors and doomed to destroy each other, and those caught up in the vicious magnetism of their leadership.

30 review for Hitler and Stalin: The Tyrants and the Second World War

  1. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    I have always enjoyed Laurence Rees work and this is an excellent read, as well as an important look at Hitler and Stalin as leaders. This is not a biography, as such, limiting its comparison to the years over WWII, from 1939 – 1945, when the two men were first thrown into an uneasy alliance and then enemies during the war. Rees is clear that it is WWI which changed the fortunes of both men and does give some background, for those less familiar with the biographies of both Stalin and Hitler. Init I have always enjoyed Laurence Rees work and this is an excellent read, as well as an important look at Hitler and Stalin as leaders. This is not a biography, as such, limiting its comparison to the years over WWII, from 1939 – 1945, when the two men were first thrown into an uneasy alliance and then enemies during the war. Rees is clear that it is WWI which changed the fortunes of both men and does give some background, for those less familiar with the biographies of both Stalin and Hitler. Initially, they appear like circling dogs – wary, and yet aware, of each other. Both initially dismissive, but also acknowledging that they would have to deal with the other. Yet, it is also clear, that Hitler would have preferred to have had a pact with the British, who he admired, but who rejected his advances. In other words, says Rees, he was forced to arrange a pact with a country he wanted to invade and fight a country he wanted as a friend. In other words, the pact, uneasy as it was, was never likely to last and, of course, it didn’t. As always, the author uses – but never over-uses – witness testimony. This book is full of snippets of those who dealt with, met, or were caught up in events over the war years. Also, the book is full of ways in which the two men differed and, also, of their style of leadership. Hitler, surprisingly perhaps, worked far more within the political system he inherited than did Stalin. Also, he did not necessarily deal with (i.e. trundle off to Siberia, or simply kill) anyone who opposed him. As Rees points out, this meant that he had more conspiracies to deal with, as well as attempts on his life, than did Stalin. A man suspicious of all, who appeared silently, accepted no opposition, watched and listened, more than he talked. Whereas Hitler liked an audience and the sound of his own voice. This is a fascinating account of two historical heavyweights; seriously written, but full of interesting anecdotes, it is absolutely gripping. Sure to be in the Christmas stockings of many history lovers, it is a brilliant read, stunningly researched and absolutely gripping. I received a copy of this book from the publisher, via NetGalley, for review.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Оленка Чередниченко

    Без перебільшення, це одна з найкращих книжок, які я прочитала за довгий час. Автор вміло порівнює Гітлера й Сталіна, розповідає про особисте життя, характери, погляди, цитує очевидців різних подій, описує перебіг Другої світової війни. Насправді, я думаю, що мене вразила ця праця саме тим, що я виросла на сході України, і, на жаль, зі школи знала, що таке культ особистості. На уроках історії про Другу світову війну розповідали тільки в межах боротьби між Німеччиною та СРСР, де Гітлер - ворог, а Без перебільшення, це одна з найкращих книжок, які я прочитала за довгий час. Автор вміло порівнює Гітлера й Сталіна, розповідає про особисте життя, характери, погляди, цитує очевидців різних подій, описує перебіг Другої світової війни. Насправді, я думаю, що мене вразила ця праця саме тим, що я виросла на сході України, і, на жаль, зі школи знала, що таке культ особистості. На уроках історії про Другу світову війну розповідали тільки в межах боротьби між Німеччиною та СРСР, де Гітлер - ворог, а Сталін - цар і бог. Звісно, з віком я розуміла, що це не так, але як ж давно хотілося знайти працю, яка зможе без особистих мотивів й зацікавлень, дійсно об'єктивно оцінити й порівняти діяльність обох лідерів. Щиро дякую автору й видавництву "Лабораторія", раджу прочитати всім!

  3. 4 out of 5

    Emma

    Laurence Rees hits a high note with this offering: a well-researched and rigorously analysed piece of scholarship that is also engaging and accessible. But what gives the book real punch is the wealth of original source material. Not only does the author incorporate essential witness testimony from those at the top, he brings the everyday, the every person, into the high politics of leader vs leader, country vs country. When centring men such as these, it's important to remember those who suffer Laurence Rees hits a high note with this offering: a well-researched and rigorously analysed piece of scholarship that is also engaging and accessible. But what gives the book real punch is the wealth of original source material. Not only does the author incorporate essential witness testimony from those at the top, he brings the everyday, the every person, into the high politics of leader vs leader, country vs country. When centring men such as these, it's important to remember those who suffered from their choices. Rees never forgets the atrocities, the victims, the real people. His work is all the more valuable for it. Alan Bullock's Hitler and Stalin: Parallel Lives was my go-to for uni reading, so it was great to pick up Rees' excellent update. There's no doubt that this book is going to be essential reading for the next generation of students as well as anyone interested in understanding why the differences between these two infamous leaders are as significant as the similarities. ARC via Netgalley

  4. 4 out of 5

    Юра Мельник

    Ще більше зрозуміло, що Путін користцється тактиками Сталіна щодо всіх інших світових лідерів. В Росії цю книгу точно не видадуть найближчим часом.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Taras Dmytrus

    Я в захваті від цієї книжки. Історична книжка яку я випадково купив через гарну обкладинку і верстку і від якої неможливо відірватись вже з першої сторніки. Хоча всі події давно відомі і я про них чув вже багато розів, читати про них тут було дуже цікаво. Цікаво було в першу чергу через те що автор послідовно описує події з двох точок зору Гітлеру і Сталіна з наявною на той час кількістю інформації, цей підхід багато пояснює як думали ці люди і чому були прийняті ті чи інші рішення

  6. 4 out of 5

    Matt Smith

    You can tell that Rees is a master of writing historical works about Hitler and Stalin. The detail is fantastic and thought provoking. Although the political narrative of World War Two is included, this is done in a way which blends in comparison about Hitler and Stalin. This makes it different to an overview of World War Two. That being said, I did occasionally feel that less context was required and more analysis between the two protagonists. I guess this will depend on your prior knowledge of You can tell that Rees is a master of writing historical works about Hitler and Stalin. The detail is fantastic and thought provoking. Although the political narrative of World War Two is included, this is done in a way which blends in comparison about Hitler and Stalin. This makes it different to an overview of World War Two. That being said, I did occasionally feel that less context was required and more analysis between the two protagonists. I guess this will depend on your prior knowledge of the subject. However, it is the discussion about which individual was worse in terms of being responsible for the mass murder of millions of people which Rees outlines the best. The book has certainly added something to my perspective of the topic. TLDR: Although it is a political narrative of WW2, the comparison between Hitler and Stalin is refreshing.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Lou

    Award-winning historian Laurence Rees plumbs the depths of Hitler and Stalin's vicious regimes, and shows the extent to which they brutalized the world around them. Two 20th century tyrants stand apart from all the rest in terms of their ruthlessness and the degree to which they changed the world around them. Briefly allies during World War II, Adolph Hitler and Josef Stalin then tried to exterminate each other in sweeping campaigns unlike anything the modern world had ever seen, affecting soldi Award-winning historian Laurence Rees plumbs the depths of Hitler and Stalin's vicious regimes, and shows the extent to which they brutalized the world around them. Two 20th century tyrants stand apart from all the rest in terms of their ruthlessness and the degree to which they changed the world around them. Briefly allies during World War II, Adolph Hitler and Josef Stalin then tried to exterminate each other in sweeping campaigns unlike anything the modern world had ever seen, affecting soldiers and civilians alike. Millions of miles of Eastern Europe were ruined in their fight to the death, millions of lives sacrificed. Laurence Rees has met more people who had direct experience of working for Hitler and Stalin than any other historian. Using their evidence he has pieced together a compelling comparative portrait of evil, in which idealism is polluted by bloody pragmatism, and human suffering is used casually as a political tool. It's a jaw-dropping description of two regimes stripped of moral anchors and doomed to destroy each other, and those caught up in the vicious magnetism of their leadership. This is a fascinating, accessible deep-dive into Hitler and Stalin’s crimes against humanity and it's clear Rees has extensively researched this area. I learned many new things as it's such an informative book and Rees writes with passion and nuance. Many thanks to Viking for an ARC.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Marsha

    Not since Bullock's groundbreaking dual Hitler and Stalin biography has there been such a thorough comparative dissection of two of the deadliest despots of the 20th century. While Bullock took a biographical and lifelong approach, Rees focuses on the years of WWII. He studies the letters, documents and reports of both dictators' friends and colleagues who observed as each of these men reacted and responded to the events of war, Solidly researched and very well written, this book is a new classi Not since Bullock's groundbreaking dual Hitler and Stalin biography has there been such a thorough comparative dissection of two of the deadliest despots of the 20th century. While Bullock took a biographical and lifelong approach, Rees focuses on the years of WWII. He studies the letters, documents and reports of both dictators' friends and colleagues who observed as each of these men reacted and responded to the events of war, Solidly researched and very well written, this book is a new classic. #netgalley

  9. 5 out of 5

    Mark Broadhead

    Good history, but not ground-breaking.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Linda

    I love reading Laurence Rees books as he makes them so interesting and easy to grasp. This was another of his excellent books that I highly recommend.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Dina Horne

    This books fills in a lot of gaps and revealed to me just how little I knew about Stalin’s role in WW2.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Paul Janiszewski

    The following soberingly insightful statements were penned by Laurence Rees in his book "Their Darkest Hour", first published in 2007: "...we are all shaped so much by the times in which we live... we can surely place ourselves in history and ask what kind of person would we have become in that situation, and consequently what choices we might have exercised." With this steely critique of vision and understanding in mind one might expect Rees' to apply the same critical standard to the espousing o The following soberingly insightful statements were penned by Laurence Rees in his book "Their Darkest Hour", first published in 2007: "...we are all shaped so much by the times in which we live... we can surely place ourselves in history and ask what kind of person would we have become in that situation, and consequently what choices we might have exercised." With this steely critique of vision and understanding in mind one might expect Rees' to apply the same critical standard to the espousing of the two adversaries that were Hitler and Stalin, and hence solidify a "way of seeing" that may bring to light the personality, circumstances and forces that directed these two monsters of history to make the choices they made which resulted in the horrific outcomes they presided over. Much of Rees' method in research, he admits, is primarily based on the testimony of the contemporary individuals of the time (oral history), as opposed to the documentation of the time or indeed the secondary material available. Hence, in this way, embracing the notions and belief systems of that specific time and somewhat bypassing the notions, beliefs and conclusions that judgemental history and current world view might unwittingly impose. This "way of seeing" which might effectively be described as "a mind set" of method, had previously been described by social critic and comedian George Carlin: "I gave up on the human race... I decided I didn't care about the outcome... not having an emotional stake in whether this experiment with human beings works." It seems Carlin speaks of a mind set that can only be described as nihilistic, whereby all views, notions, opinions, desires, emotions and bias are dispensed with such that the only firm understanding left (if any) is that "things are never what they may seem". In keeping, then, with this "way of seeing" one might first have to dispense with the value judgements that I had just made in my own opening description of Hitler and Stalin a few moments ago: "these two monsters of history", "horrific outcomes". Let me be clear, I am not denouncing those widely held "truths" that define evil, but instead simply pointing out the lens of preconception that needs to be overcome before examination begins. Hence as you can well imagine, any history that is taken "seriously" must not cross this line of "truth", and more importantly as the economics of publishing dictates, material must either overwhelmingly reconfirm those "truths" or for the sake of those "progressive" thinkers, challenge them only to the degree of causing an "outrage" that in essence would never have a chance of being taken seriously. Furthermore it becomes increasingly difficult to uphold this lense of an open mindset when the subject matter itself (Hitler and Stalin) is well entrenched in world view as notoriously holding the position of evil as to the extent of defining evil itself. In other words it may be permissible for the ordinary individual of the time to be excused of the motivation of evil, but certainly not the main protagonists. It is for these reasons, that in my estimation, Rees has moved further away from the sincerity of his critical vision as displayed in "Their Darkest Hour". Rees has chosen to examine the two leaders in the time period of 1939 to 1945 which overwhelmingly (at least for hitler) lends itself to a reaffirmation of the concept of evil, being more about the outcomes of actions as opposed to a period that may more so lend itself to the questions of the cause of those actions. It reconstitutes what is already known, but rather in the format of a comparison of the two personalities of unquestioning evil. Indeed I found that Rees brief chapter of Introduction, summarily provides the individual circumstances of the preceding years, and that in itself to be of clearer insight. Rees Afterward consolidates his seeming vision of the reaffirmation of the archetype of evil by balancing in argument the degree of the evil each represented through the comparison of the numbers of deaths, suffering and malignancy of their world visions. The outcome of his discourse then creates an understanding of these individuals that in a sense transcends being a person, or even human. They have become, symbols and beacons, comic book characters of the dark side. Now this is not to say, that Rees does nothing to bring to light the circumstances of each protagonist as individuals and leaders who were influenced and directed, personally, socially and politically, through external factors and also their motivations and actions (which were not necessarily just simplistically evil). That is not to say that their original motivation (in the first place and at the very least) was not for good or indeed "the common good". Rees refers to Hitler's belief in the existential threat from the east posed by the communists and their political revolution: (Hitler) "the species is in danger" p178. However muddled with Hitlers bigotry, false beliefs of Jewish complicity, and eugenics, one might see that the notion of being "evil" and of becoming "evil" might very well be a trap of circumstance and thinking derived from ones era of existence. In the same way Stalins' understanding of his position and call to action presumably was commensurate of the comments of Vladlen Anchishenko commander of a mortar battery storming Berlin: "All the moral categories that the soldiers had, have been destroyed by their experience. War depraves a human being." In coming to conclusions Rees sees both protagonists somewhat dissimilar in personality yet similar in having been "tyrants of utopian vision". Their individual personalities and the experience of their time, formed their visions and paved their paths through the development of circumstance and situation which ultimately guided their decisions. In this way it may have been any of us placed in their world. Indeed the difference of personality is spread all the way from a unforgiving romantic of dogmatic idealistic fervor, truly in belief of his utopian ideals, to the extent that he was prepared to die for them, as in the case of Hitler, to that of Stalin who seemed to be a conniving calculating opportunist ready to dismiss those principles of his utopian ideal if it endangered the power he alone was privilege to. (that is not to say that either were in any way a moralist or hero). The element of evil that links these two individual human beings (dare I refer to them in this way) was not so much the nature of their individual selves, but the utopian world visions that pervaded their thinking. This force of belief of extreme idealism in pursuit of the common good, ultimately placed human beings of motivation in positions of compromise, such that their end goals would justify their means. Rees final statement: "All this horror should serve as a reminder - for all time - of the destruction that tyrants with utopian visions can inflict upon the world". I fear that this timely warning has become lost in our post modern world, whereby a well meaning righteous world vision has become deceptively clouded and bereft of the lessons of history. This time the lack of understanding of the enigma that good is evil may once again lead to human demise.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jane Griffiths

    Were they alike, or weren't they? Well, yes and no. Er, that's it. A workmanlike history, that seems I look at personality. I think there's a bigger book to be written in this, maybe has been, for all I know. Were they alike, or weren't they? Well, yes and no. Er, that's it. A workmanlike history, that seems I look at personality. I think there's a bigger book to be written in this, maybe has been, for all I know.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Brenda

    So very different in beliefs and personalities yet comparable in their lofty goals and ambitions. Hitler and Stalin ("steel" in Russian") rose to power...tyrany...and are responsible for millions of deaths. Each. They lived and ruled at the same time though never met and were only eleven years apart in age. Both grew up poor and were beaten by their fathers. Hitler was charismatic, unlike Stalin who was a man of few words. Hitler despised governing bodies and institutions while Stalin was a stau So very different in beliefs and personalities yet comparable in their lofty goals and ambitions. Hitler and Stalin ("steel" in Russian") rose to power...tyrany...and are responsible for millions of deaths. Each. They lived and ruled at the same time though never met and were only eleven years apart in age. Both grew up poor and were beaten by their fathers. Hitler was charismatic, unlike Stalin who was a man of few words. Hitler despised governing bodies and institutions while Stalin was a staunch supporter of the Communist Party. Both loathed the idea of monarchy, though they technically acted like ruling monarchy and took it further to brutal dictatorship. Neither believed in God. Hitler believed the laws of Nature, Stalin in Marxism. Bolshevism terrified Hitler as Nazism did Stalin. But both had the same vision...a new and perfected world, yet Stalin wanted a stateless society and Hitler a vast empire. As such, in their warped minds no one had the right to be individual. There was nothing they wouldn't do, no torture was an obstacle, mass murder was par for the course. United in their hatred for inferior people, they were relentless and ruthless who used and abused fear. Some say Stalin was "nice". Hitler loved animals. It is impossible for us to fathom the horrendous and unbearable horrors they meted out without compunction or reservation as they...and I hesitate to say this...had a human side. Adherents stuck with them and to this day Stalin is revered by many Russians. Stalin is responsible for the deaths of millions of Soviet citizens which is different than Hitler who mainly killed non-Germans. They were never friends but tolerated each other at first. But then WWII changed that. This book is about human behaviour, the need to eliminate in juxtaposition to the need of the victims to just survive in unimaginable circumstances. The author has done extraordinary quantities of research and it really shows. I've read many books on the subject but this is the most thorough. It taught me a lot and got me thinking about human nature. Many horrors are described which are moving, heartbreaking and sobering. This is not an easy read at times. But it is a topic people should know in greater detail with a focus on the personalities of two of the most reviled repugnant men who ever lived. Incredibly interesting and highly recommended. My sincere thank you to Perseus Books and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of this thought-provoking book in exchange for an honest review. Much appreciated.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Julie

    Rees is incredibly successful with this dual biography of the most notorious figures of the 20th century, focusing specifically on the war years. He compares and contrasts the men who were ultimately responsible for the worst atrocities in an approachable way. One perfect example is that Hitler delegated while Stalin was too paranoid to do so. That’s how Stalin doomed his army after the Great Terror, since any remaining officers, “…realized that initiative and fresh thinking were now potentially Rees is incredibly successful with this dual biography of the most notorious figures of the 20th century, focusing specifically on the war years. He compares and contrasts the men who were ultimately responsible for the worst atrocities in an approachable way. One perfect example is that Hitler delegated while Stalin was too paranoid to do so. That’s how Stalin doomed his army after the Great Terror, since any remaining officers, “…realized that initiative and fresh thinking were now potentially fatal attributes.” There’s a definite juxtaposition when you consider Germany’s successful campaign in Western Europe: “Imagine if [Hitler] had ‘purged’ these generals in a similar way to Stalin. Is it conceivable that this victory would ever had happened?” Hitler had grand ambitions, whereas Stalin never sought to expand his empire. “This disconnect between vision and implementation would never be adequately resolved by the Nazis and was one of the reasons why they were to lose the war.” Just think of Operation Barbarossa as an example of how unrealistic objectives trumped practicality in Hitler’s mind. “…did they have the resources they needed in order to get the resources they wanted?” Despite their differences, “Ultimately, both Hitler and Stalin made the same mistake. Both fooled themselves into believing that they could think into existence what they wanted to happen.” Men with that much power and the devotion of millions could delude themselves easily because they had the ability to eliminate anyone who challenged them within their own sphere of influence. But while Stalin was quick to blame anyone else within his circle for his failures, Hitler always blamed the Jews. Even as late as the end of 1944, “…Hitler openly fantasized that Jews were responsible for anything and everything that he opposed and feared. Unlike Stalin, who saw different potential enemies wherever he looked, Hitler saw the same enemy the world over.” Regardless of the dichotomy of the two Tyrants, the end result was the death of tens of millions of people. Their goals were different, as were their means of achieving them, but they were both bullies of the worst kind because they perceived themselves as infallible and their nations’ most valuable commodity. I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Theodore Vasilic

    Absolutely worth five stars! This is one of the greatest, if not the greatest, book by Laurence Rees. It is an excellent analysis of not only the regimes which the two dictators ruled but the dictators themselves. They differed a lot, to say it simply. Stalin was an absolute workhorse, some might say a workaholic, and worked even when he went on his beloved annual vacation to the Caucasus (this is not to say that Stalin had no limits, as the workload of WW2, for instance, crushed him). Hitler wo Absolutely worth five stars! This is one of the greatest, if not the greatest, book by Laurence Rees. It is an excellent analysis of not only the regimes which the two dictators ruled but the dictators themselves. They differed a lot, to say it simply. Stalin was an absolute workhorse, some might say a workaholic, and worked even when he went on his beloved annual vacation to the Caucasus (this is not to say that Stalin had no limits, as the workload of WW2, for instance, crushed him). Hitler worked very little, and dedicated most of his work to dictating, editing, and eventually saying his speeches, and not surprisingly, since he was a great public speaker. Here we see another difference: Stalin was a much better listener than a talker, and had a very soft voice (and mannerisms, often walking into a room unseen or unheard). Hitler, on the other hand, was terrible at listening, and dominated any “conversation” that he held with a monologue. In terms of the regimes, the Nazi dictatorship was not as efficient as many people think (except when it came to killing Jews). It was a network of competing interests, with small power bases, and local officials took great liberties in carrying out “the Führer’s will” (Hitler often issued commands verbally, confusing his subordinates even further). Stalin’s regime suffered from what might be termed over-centralization, where local officials always waited for a command from the center. Stalin, thankfully, left a voluminous collection of written material. Rees draws the conclusion that both regimes were evil, and that to argue about statistics and their “morality” would be an insult to the victims of both regimes, which is, in my view, a perfectly reasonable and respectful conclusion. In terms of writing, too, the book is great, and always held my interest. Great work!

  17. 5 out of 5

    Jordan

    The twentieth century was the deadliest in world history, and two figures who are emblematic of this fact are Hitler and Stalin. They are still invoked as examples of evil incarnate. Laurence Rees masterfully brings to life the personalities of each of these tyrants, their relationship with each other and how their visions inflicted themselves upon the world. Rees’ setting the two men beside one another allows a greater insight into how these men and the totalitarian systems they championed share The twentieth century was the deadliest in world history, and two figures who are emblematic of this fact are Hitler and Stalin. They are still invoked as examples of evil incarnate. Laurence Rees masterfully brings to life the personalities of each of these tyrants, their relationship with each other and how their visions inflicted themselves upon the world. Rees’ setting the two men beside one another allows a greater insight into how these men and the totalitarian systems they championed shared a multitude of similarities – while also highlighting their differences. Of particular note is how even in generally common traits or desires, personality or structural differences produced variances even in the similarities. This allows for a deeper examination into two complex systems which became in many ways made in the image of their tyrants. Where this work really shines, and which I had not expected, is the witness accounts masterfully woven into the events described to show how people endeavored to survive the hellscape created not just by Hitler or Stalin, but by the fascist and communist ideologies. Sitting next to the accounts of innocents recounting their horrors are perpetrators justifying their faith; next to the recollections of statesmen are everyday people describing cannibalism and rape. This creates a two tier drama encompassing the higher and lower levels of society, both of which come to life.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Andrea

    Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for an ARC. This may be the best history book I've read in years. Hitler and Stalin is a riveting portrayal of the two figures. Of course, almost any book about the European fronts of WWII will address the two men in some fashion, but this book contrasts them deliberately, and it is utterly fascinating. We see how much the two regimes have in common— as one unfortunate soul who spent time in both Soviet and German prisons but it, fascism and communism are t Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for an ARC. This may be the best history book I've read in years. Hitler and Stalin is a riveting portrayal of the two figures. Of course, almost any book about the European fronts of WWII will address the two men in some fashion, but this book contrasts them deliberately, and it is utterly fascinating. We see how much the two regimes have in common— as one unfortunate soul who spent time in both Soviet and German prisons but it, fascism and communism are the same. Or as the author puts it in the book, "the Soviet and Nazi governments may have been fair apart in their ideological and political goals, but in the practical mechanics of oppression, they were closely linked." Also we see thoughtful analyses of how the men differed. For example, Stalin's rigid control of this underlings in his early rule and the beginning of WWII is contrasted to Hitler's more free hand, the latter of which resulted in much more success. However, as the war progresses, they switch strategies. It's an engrossing read that's well written, well researched, and peppered with impactful eyewitness accounts and other original sources. An unexpected bonus of this history is the time spent analyzing the complex relationship between Stalin, Roosevelt, and Churchill.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Thomas

    A superb read, very interesting and informative with lots of interview material from people experienced and perpetrated the acts. How reliable it is who knows, as reliable as documentary evidence I guess. Both leaders, not men because neither was human, although very different politically were ultimately the same. Two of worst villains to ever be birthed. A sombre, sad and haunting read. I haven't learned too much of the Soviet Union beyond school so that part with Stalin was very interesting to A superb read, very interesting and informative with lots of interview material from people experienced and perpetrated the acts. How reliable it is who knows, as reliable as documentary evidence I guess. Both leaders, not men because neither was human, although very different politically were ultimately the same. Two of worst villains to ever be birthed. A sombre, sad and haunting read. I haven't learned too much of the Soviet Union beyond school so that part with Stalin was very interesting to me. Certainly whetted my appetite for further study, whilst the Second World War is remembered for the Holocaust and the Nazis, it should also be remembered for Stalins almost equal treatment of the Tatars, Kalmyks and many other groups. The difference was Hitler was very public whereas Stalin was not. I think I need a fun and distracting palate cleanser after reading this book.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Janilyn Kocher

    Rees provides a comprehensive comparison of Hitler and Stalin from 1939-1945. He examines facets of their lives and personalities. The author does a good job giving readers an impartial examination of both tyrants. He doesn't mince words or hold back from the horrible things both men were responsible. Rees inluded many excerpts from individuals who suffered under both regimes. What stood out to me were the deportations of Poles by both the Germans and Russians. I hadn't realized to what extent t Rees provides a comprehensive comparison of Hitler and Stalin from 1939-1945. He examines facets of their lives and personalities. The author does a good job giving readers an impartial examination of both tyrants. He doesn't mince words or hold back from the horrible things both men were responsible. Rees inluded many excerpts from individuals who suffered under both regimes. What stood out to me were the deportations of Poles by both the Germans and Russians. I hadn't realized to what extent the Soviets had forced out Polish citizens. It's a remarkable book and is an important contributor to the canon of historical literature.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Debbie Terranova

    A comprehensive biographical analysis of the similarities and differences between two of the twentieth century's most notorious dictators, Nazi Germany's Adolf Hitler and his Soviet adversary, Joseph Stalin. Based on meticulous research, this 460-page tome is eminently readable. At times I found the subject matter rather dry, but that was more a reflection of this reader's taste - I'm no military historian - than of the author's skill. Highly recommended for writers of historical fiction, like m A comprehensive biographical analysis of the similarities and differences between two of the twentieth century's most notorious dictators, Nazi Germany's Adolf Hitler and his Soviet adversary, Joseph Stalin. Based on meticulous research, this 460-page tome is eminently readable. At times I found the subject matter rather dry, but that was more a reflection of this reader's taste - I'm no military historian - than of the author's skill. Highly recommended for writers of historical fiction, like myself, who wish to comprehend the political, ethical, moral, and social nightmare that was WWII in Europe.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Paola Ristori

    A very well written book, with an intriguing ambition. Which up to a certain point meets its claims. Unfortunately Bullock, while being a sound overall XXth century historian, is a Hitler expert but not a Stalin one. So the tale is unbalanced, with many more details on Hilter side, and the similitudes seem sometimes forced. But the roadmap to complete pathological tyranny is vero well traced in both cases. It is up to us that another one will never gain power.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Tolu Fatogbe

    I couldn't find shortcomings with this book. It did what it said on the tin i.e. a comparitive narrative of these two monsters during WW2. I never thought i would ever say this but Hitler comes across as more likeable than Stalin. You could say Hitler was plain mad but Stalin was much more calculating "... he wasnt very vocal but a keen listener and observer of people" I couldn't find shortcomings with this book. It did what it said on the tin i.e. a comparitive narrative of these two monsters during WW2. I never thought i would ever say this but Hitler comes across as more likeable than Stalin. You could say Hitler was plain mad but Stalin was much more calculating "... he wasnt very vocal but a keen listener and observer of people"

  24. 5 out of 5

    Judy Santos

    Author’s way of storytelling is so good, I suggest you join NovelStar’s writing competition this April. If you are interested kindly check this link https://www.facebook.com/104455574751... for the mechanics of the writing contest this April and also, I am sharing your book in Facebook to help reach readers. Thank you Author’s way of storytelling is so good, I suggest you join NovelStar’s writing competition this April. If you are interested kindly check this link https://www.facebook.com/104455574751... for the mechanics of the writing contest this April and also, I am sharing your book in Facebook to help reach readers. Thank you

  25. 5 out of 5

    Daniel

    First rate history. Not a dry narrative-author writes welll about high and low; generals, privates and civilians. For me this book filled in alot of unknown things about Stalin and Soviet Union during WW II.

  26. 4 out of 5

    David

    I thought the comparisons between Hitler and Stalin worked well as a way of describing each of them. Hitler in particular has kind of come to be seen as sui generis in his evil. It was interesting to see someone describing someone else as being, in certain ways, worse than Hitler.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Mat

    TelRev5

  28. 4 out of 5

    Saikat Baksi

    World War II could not be more alive, chilling and thrilling and real than what I found in this book. The two most sensational dictators or history seemed to breathe on my neck all the time.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Elena Vitolo

    Great book! Incredibly interesting and well written.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Sveborg

    Odična knjiga!!

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