The best fascism books 📚

Browse the best books on fascism as recommended by authors, experts, and creators. Along with notes on why they recommend those books.

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Book cover of The Anatomy of Fascism

The Anatomy of Fascism

By Robert O. Paxton

Why this book?

Fascism and Communism purported to explain all social and political phenomena and, on that basis, justified their authoritarian or totalitarian rule. The term ‘fascist’ tends to be loosely applied to intolerant and autocratic political behaviour, but the outstandingly lucid, and highly readable, book by Robert Paxton not only surveys fascism in practice – in Mussolini’s Italy, Hitler’s Germany and in fascist movements and parties in many different countries – it also shows what its distinctive components are. What he calls the ‘mobilizing passions’ of fascism include the glorification of war and violence, expansionism, racism, a fixation on national solidarity, rejection…

From the list:

The best books on authoritarianism and totalitarianism

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Book cover of Bread and Wine

Bread and Wine

By Ignazio Silone

Why this book?

This famous novel tells the story from the other side, a socialist on the run, in fascist Italy. Certain unforgettable scenes portray the bullying and humiliation at the core of fascism and its human cost. I first read this in college, then re-read it when I was conducting research on Mussolini’s Italy.
From the list:

The best about the perils of fascism

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Book cover of The Nazi Seizure of Power: The Experience of a Single German Town, 1922-1945

The Nazi Seizure of Power: The Experience of a Single German Town, 1922-1945

By William Sheridan Allen

Why this book?

It is important for Americans to understand why millions of Germans who were not violent antisemites and racists voted for the Nazis. Looking at the case of a typical German town, Allen shows that economics, culture wars, and fear for the future motivated middle-class Germans to vote for an extremist party – not because of its racism, but despite its racism.

From the list:

The best books on Nazi Germany and the Holocaust

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Book cover of Travelers in the Third Reich

Travelers in the Third Reich

By Julia Boyd

Why this book?

Brilliantly executed, this stunning book provides a composite firsthand view of history’s darkest turn. Using a suite of interesting travellers in Hitler’s Germany this book perfectly captures the looming ominousness and increasing brutality of this infamous time and place. It also reveals a very human capacity to be misled, prejudiced, or uninterested. This is a book that will open your eyes to the past and make you think hard about the present.

From the list:

The best books that will change how you see history

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Book cover of It Can't Happen Here

It Can't Happen Here

By Sinclair Lewis

Why this book?

Sinclair Lewis’s 1935 novel was inspired by European fascism and serves as a bridge between Hitler/Mussolini and the blustery, bloviating, red-faced American version, Huey Long and Donald Trump. After winning the Presidency on a populist platform, Lewis’s demagogue, Buzz Windrip, outlaws the opposition, puts his political enemies in concentration camps, sets up The Minute Men, a personal paramilitary force, eliminates the power of Congress, and restricts rights for women and minorities. A huge number of American voters back these fascist measures as necessary to make the country great again. Sound familiar?

Full disclosure: this book was an inspiration for my…

From the list:

The best books to read when fascism is creeping in the window

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Book cover of Overcome by Modernity: History, Culture, and Community in Interwar Japan

Overcome by Modernity: History, Culture, and Community in Interwar Japan

By Harry D. Harootunian

Why this book?

Readers interested in intellectual history in modern Japan could begin with Harry Harootunian’s Overcome by Modernity: History, Culture, and Community in Interwar Japan. Harootunian’s examination of a generation of Japanese intellectuals in the period between the two world wars explores how they sought to ‘overcome’ materialism and consumerism associated with the West. As Japanese industrial and urban development gave rise to mass culture, Harootunian shows how traditional values and mores were uprooted and replaced with those which embraced desire, fantasy, and spectacle in parallel with a wider process marked by both modernism and fascism.
From the list:

‘The best books on Japanese postwar creative arts in their wider context

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