“The true criticism of Neville Chamberlain is that he could not really imagine a man like Hitler or a party like the Nazis. “He’s a good fellow and ’twill all be well,” whatever may be said of it as theology, it is a parochial and limited attitude when it comes to foreign politics. It is not only on the left—and, of course many on the left are exempt—that one finds this inability to grasp the totalist mentality imaginatively. The notion that people who raise the alarm about Hitler in the 1930s were being immoderate and unreasonable was found in the Times and at All Souls, in all the blinkered and complacent crannies of the Establishment. The concept of a quite different set of motivations, based on a different political psychology, was absent.”
From the fascinating book Reflections on a Ravaged Century by Robert Conquest. pg 12, Mind slaughter section.
Then again, George Bush had his Chamberlain moment when he met Putin and declared that “I looked the man in the eye. I found him to be very straightforward and trustworthy. We had a very good dialogue. I was able to get a sense of his soul; a man deeply committed to his country and the best interests of his country.”
So sad that Bush did not read the intelligence reports on his desk.
“Robert Conquest is the acclaimed author of many works of history, biography, criticism, translation, fiction, and poetry. He was educated at Winchester and at Magdalen College, Oxford, and has held various academic posts at the London School of Economics, Columbia University, and the Woodrow Wilson International Center, among others. Currently, he is Senior Research Fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.” * From the book jacket.
*He died in 2015.
There are other books and articles by and about Conquest that I am anxious to read. He is known as a scholar on Russia epecially Stalin. It would be interesting to hear his views on the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Other books include The Harvest of Sorrow and The Great Terror.