Jules Archer Helene Cantarella - Essay

Helene Cantarella

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

In selecting Benito Mussolini as the subject of [Twentieth Century Caesar: Benito Mussolini], Jules Archer deliberately accents the negative to achieve the positive. To prove that the ruler who teaches his people to hate blindly ultimately falls victim to that violence, he has chosen to focus on the meteoric rise and fall of the son of a small-town blacksmith and an overworked schoolmistress, who was to become II Duce of Fascism and founder of the now vanished Italian Empire.

Nothing in the life of this ruthless, strutting demagogue inspires, either admiration or compassion. He made his way from the start through betrayal of every cause he ever espoused and every friend who ever held out to him a helping hand….

All this Mr. Archer makes unmistakably clear despite minor orthographic and factual inaccuracies. His swift-moving account recaptures in substance the complex historical events that made possible the rise of the preposterous characters who played a major role in shaping them. (p. 24)

Helene Cantarella, in The New York Times Book Review (© 1964 by The New York Times Company; reprinted by permission), November 1, 1964.

[Man of Steel: Joseph Stalin] is worth having. It's readable, it's cautious in its judgments and its facts are traceable without the heavy presence of footnotes…. What Jules Archer has...

(The entire section is 501 words.)