A Century of Horrors - Intercollegiate Studies Institute

A Century of Horrors

Communism, Nazism, and the Uniqueness of the Shoah

Written by Alain Besançon, translated by Ralph C. Hancock


“A little book of great wisdom.” —First Things

A wise and elegant meditation on the horror and destruction caused by the terrible ideologies of the twentieth century, communism and Nazism. 

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The twentieth century bears the indelible imprint of both communism and Nazism. Today, it sometimes seems as if the former is all but forgotten, at least among Western elites, while our cultural memory of the latter is an inextinguishable fire. This inequality is surprising and calls out for explanation, a task the French political thinker Alain Besançon attempts here in a wise and elegant meditation.

In examining the horror and destruction caused by both of these terrible ideologies, Besançon finds that recourse to theology is necessary if we are to achieve even feeble illumination. He also explains why, even with the full knowledge of the extent of communism’s crimes, the uniqueness of the Shoah ought to be accepted without reservation.

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“A little book of great wisdom.”

First Things

“Besançon’s profound book shows how, for the sake of its own future, Western political thought has to transcend the legacy of both communism and Nazism by working through the dangerous illusions many still entertain about both of these modern idolatries.”

David Novak

“With an impressive grasp of the critical issues, and without bogging down in details, Besancon lucidly probes into the comparisons and contrasts, and the similarities and differences, between these tow ideologies.”

Religious Studies Review

“Besançon’s reflective condemnations of Communism and Nazism, like those of some of his fellow French intellectuals who once flirted with Communisim, are especially credible in light of his past.”

Metro NC

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