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Roger L. Simon

Megalomania Chic: World War II According to Oliver Stone

November 12th, 2012 - 10:20 am

The truth of whether lives were saved by Hiroshima and Nagasaki will obviously never be known without an alternative universe, but this does not deter Stone and Kuznick in their polemic for a second. Truman bad, Stalin good.

Sure, a few mentions are scattered about blemishing the otherwise pristine record of Uncle Joe (the Katyn massacre) and Wallace has been called by Kuznick “a little naïve about Stalin” (a little?), but the documentary really can be called “Stalin porn.” Every time the Georgian monster appears on the screen we hear swells of heroic music from Beethoven or Shostakovich (himself a victim of Stalin – needless to say not mentioned). And the despot almost always makes a monkey of — or has sage advice for — the bellicose Churchill and the erratic Roosevelt.

So what accounts for this Stalin near-hagiography? Stone has what appears to be an almost psychosexual attraction to dictators — Castro, Chavez, now Stalin. They just have to be of a left-wing sort. Hitler somehow doesn’t make the cut, although he was a national socialist.

I’m too bored with the tedious Stone to take this further, but the Freudian explanation probably has some merit. More obvious is simple megalomania. History is all about me. Me, me, me, me. Pay attention to me.

And how! By making exaggerated, almost silly, claims about World War II and the Cold War, Stone calls attention to himself once again. Who would review or even watch another measured view of that time period? Megalomania pays. The unfortunate losers are the young audiences (and others) who may believe this swill.

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More from historian Ron Radosh on Oliver Stone and the election: It’s the Culture, Stupid: Facing the Long Road Ahead. Radosh writes here in even more detail of the history. He also informed me that it is no longer controversial Stone and Kuznick are incorrect regarding Truman and the bomb. It did save thousands of lives and the main work summarizing the evidence is Wilson Miscamble’s The Most Controversial Decision. I have not read it.

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