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New Left Review I/17, Winter 1962

Tom Nairn

Crowds and Critics

This book—which may be said to have the clarity, simplicity, and explanatory flexibility of a metaphysical system—is an erudite and fascinating work of immense distinction. In it, the fruits of human action en bloc have been wisely tabled and formulated. Original and massively documented, it provides us with new means of thinking, with new explanatory models likely to prove indispensable in any further study of collective behaviour. It enables us to begin to understand the significance of such historical figures as Hitler and Stalin, and for this reason alone would deserve our respect and gratitude. In addition, Dr. Canetti leads the reader with him up to a high eminence, from which both Marx and Freud can be reconsidered and reappraised, supplying him with endless entertainment and provocation to thought on the way.

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Tom Nairn, ‘Crowds and Critics’, NLR I/17: £3

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