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Recognized upon publication as the comprehensive account of its subject and later hailed as a classic by the Times Literary Supplement, this book continues to be the definitive history of this political movement. It begins with the rise of anti-Semitism in Central and Western Europe in the 1800s and continues with an examination of European colonial imperialism from 1884 to the outbreak of World War I. The final section discusses the institutions and operations of totalitarian movements, focusing on the two genuine forms of totalitarian government in our time—Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia.
Here Arendt discusses the transformation of classes into masses, the role of propaganda in dealing with the nontotalitarian world, and the use of terror, essential to this form of government. In a brilliant concluding chapter, Arendt analyzes the nature of isolation and loneliness as preconditions for total domination.