4 out of 4 stars
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“Even as a kid, I was annoyed by people who wanted to tell everyone how to live.” I believe many of us understand what Clint Eastwood meant when he said these words, cited by author L.K. Samuels in Killing History. In this scholarly tome, L.K. Samuels thoroughly examines the origins and evolution of contemporary political narratives; most importantly, he aims to document how these narratives got distorted.
Starting with the French Revolution, when the insurgent middle class “sat on the left side of the aisle in opposition to the authoritarians,” the author fosters an in-depth discussion of the frailties of left and right-wing political affiliations. Samuels tackles several concepts and dichotomies such as socialism, capitalism, collectivism, individualism, liberals, conservatives, pro-market, and pro-business. He dives deep into Marxism, Italian Fascism, and Nazi Germany’s National Socialism. Samuels argues that they are similar and quotes Churchill: “Fascism was the shadow or ugly child of communism... As Fascism sprang from Communism, so Nazism developed from Fascism.”
This book is a tour de force in political science. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed it, although I do not agree with all of the author’s ideas. Moreover, I was positively impressed by how well-researched the book is, using numerous references and citations to substantiate claims. Due to the depth in which Samuels examines the subject, I thought Killing History resembles a doctoral dissertation. Kudos to the author for coming across as such a knowledgeable man. He is the kind of person I would like to listen to at a conference.
Above all, I must say this was an informative and thought-provoking read. For example, I was astonished to learn that after the 1936 World Olympic Games in Hitler’s Germany, US President FDR invited every white US Olympian to a special gathering in the White House, but not African-American Jesse Owens, the most successful athlete at the games.
Lastly, I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars. Apart from a couple of minor errors, it was very well written and professionally edited, with extensive notes and bibliography. I found the book to be both engaging and educational, with no noteworthy negatives to mention. I got hooked by the way the author masterfully interprets and interconnects historical events and political theories. I believe it will appeal to open-minded readers interested in a fresh perspective on politics. Readers who aren’t fond of in-depth scholarly analyses and those with more orthodox political views might not appreciate the book.
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