« Sublime, Prosaic (all dialogue drawn from real life). | Main | Pussygate »

October 05, 2016



There is another analogy to our election season in European political history, other than the one involving Mussolini. As senior New York Times book reviewer Michiko Kakutani indirectly but unmistakably demonstrates, there are echoes of Adolph Hitler's rise to power in the candidacy of Donald Trump.

In two remarkable New York Times daily book reviews Kakutani first examines a roundup of recent books by and about Trump, and then reviews a new book about Hitler's early years in which she sets forth evidence of the similarities of Trump to Hitler.

In the August review of the Trump books Kakutani quotes from the criticisms of various authors of his personality, business dealings, and controversial stands -- as well as from his own larger than life speeches rife with narcissistic rants, insults, and put-downs.

Then in her September bulleted review of Volker Ullrich's Hitler: Ascent 1899-1939, Kakutani offers what is in effect a thinly-veiled "subtweet" of Trump, referring to him without ever directly mentioning his name. But it becomes impossible for the reader not to draw his own conclusions about the rise of Hitler in Nazi Germany and the current political dominance of Trump in the United States.

Some of Kakutani's points mentioned by Ullrich in his book:

.Hitler was an effective orator and actor.
.He assumed various masks, feeding off the energy of his audiences.
.He specialized in big theatrical rallies staged with spectacular elements borrowed from the circus.
.He adapted the content of his speeches to suit the tastes of his lower-middle-class, nationalist-conservative, ethnic-chauvinist, and anti-Semitic listeners.
.His supporters included those who embraced the Nazi party not out of political conviction but in hopes of improving their career opportunities.
.He attracted increasingly large audiences by means of accusations, vows of revenge, and promises for the future.
.His supporters believed that Germany needed a gutsy "man of iron" who could shake things up.
.His opponents failed to appreciate his tenacity, or that he was a man who could be neither tamed nor fenced in.
.He peppered his speeches with coarse phrases and put-downs of hecklers.
.He offered himself as the visionary leader who could restore law and order.
.He was a narcissist, with a taste for self-dramatization and a fondness for superlatives.
.His opponents were naive in underestimating him, even as he benefited from an erosion of the political center and a growing resentment of the elite classes.
.He turned into "the lord and master of the German Reich."

Understandably Kakutani's review of Ullrich's book did not go undiscussed by political commentators, and went viral on social media. Sinclair Lewis once titled one of his novels, about fascism, It Can't Happen Here (a power-hungry populist runs for president and wins). Unfortunately in today's American political climate there is no such thing as "can't."

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)

Blogs I Read