Andrew Roberts

Duel of the Despots

The Dictators: Hitler's Germany, Stalin's Russia

By

Allen Lane The Penguin Press 496pp £25 order from our bookshop

IN A WATCH in the Night, one of A N Wilson’s ‘Larnpitt Chronicles’ sequence of novels, a character named Hunter perfectly illustrates the weird paradox that Western intellectuals still seem to face over the issue of twentieth-century totalitarianism. ‘Hunter’, Wilson writes, ‘is one of those people who believe that those who, during the 1930s, were hoodwinked by Stalin were all slightly lovable, in no way at fault for disbelieving the stories of the genocides, the concentration camps and the show-trials. Those who were guided by comparable idealism into believing a different kind of nonsense were, by contrast, to be- left for ever in the dock beside the butchers of Nuremberg.’

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