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Reviewed by Lesley Jones for Readers' Favorite
In From Innocence to Evil, author Csaba Hegyvary demonstrates that long before the Second World War and the rise of the Third Reich and Hitler, Josef Stalin had already massacred millions of his own people. Hitler also killed and tortured millions with callous indifference in extermination camps. It is easy to condemn both these monsters as evil mass murderers and focus on the poor victims. But the question still remains; what made these men kill and torture with no remorse and become the evilest dictators in recent history? Was it their upbringing or environment? We examine both Stalin's and Hitler's upbringing, their view of the world while growing up and discover the catalyst that may have been responsible for the depraved psychological switch that turned a failed artist to form the Nazi party and a poor shoemaker's son to become a feared ruler of the Soviet Union. Further examination of their stages of development may give an insight into their distorted values which enabled them to justify their actions.
From Innocence to Evil by Csaba Hegyvary is, without doubt, one of the most riveting and gripping reads I have experienced in a long time. The detailed research into both dictators' lives and backgrounds was impressive. What I found most fascinating is that they both had such violent childhoods and this caused them to have a distorted view of the world. They seemed to bend reality to suit their agenda and randomly chose their enemies. Their treatment of women was deplorable. I was especially amazed at the relationship Hitler had with Eva Braun and his reaction when questioned about the mass executions. I have learned so much from this book, not just regarding these two dictators, but about humanity in general. It is shocking to find how an abusive upbringing, a dramatic event, or a personality disorder can have such dire effects on humanity, especially if you surround yourself with people of similar distorted values. The author's accounts and findings are truly chilling and should be read by everyone.