Tauris, pp. The Hoxha who had entered the city as a communist partisan was now a weak old man. He was often confined to a wheelchair, had to be hoisted on to his podium using a custom-built lift and was only prevented from falling by camouflaged safety rails. The dictator was deeply vulnerable but still formidably powerful. It was never achieved.

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Little serious scholarly study exists in English either of post-war Albania or its leadership. That which did exist tended to suffer from a lack of reliable primary resource material and either sang the praises of heroic Comrade Hoxha or presented him as an arch demon. Blendi Fevziu, while no apologist for Hoxha, presents here probably the best English language biography of Enver Hoxha has remained something of an enigma among the leaders of the none West aligned leaders of the European powers.

Blendi Fevziu, while no apologist for Hoxha, presents here probably the best English language biography of Enver Hoxha based on a range of state archive documentation, interviews and diaries and letters of key actors. Neither a street activist or intellectual; rather someone whose lack of firm position or activism made him seem like a prime neutral candidate for filling a key Party post at a time of internal division and strife.

It is interesting to see how Hoxha was a beneficiary of the support of leading Albanian nationalists in his early years who helped him through an education he seemed to have no interest in then in finding employment he had little more time for. Despite the bits and pieces which have been scraped together here there remain tantalising gaps in the narrative many of which are probably thanks to Hoxhas efforts towards being economical with the truth at best and rewriting or erasing it where considered necessary.

The book certainly does not satisfy my curiosity about how a babe of a nation with no working class to speak of, a tribal society still in many respects, and a tiny intellectual community managed to give birth to a deadly and highly effective Communist Party led resistance movement which liberated the country from Nazi occupation. Zog spent years trying to cajole waring factions into a functioning modern state with limited success. In contrast Hoxha seems to have mobilised and united an entire country and applied Lenninist lessons in breaking eggs to the extent that opposition became unthinkable, that and managing to impose upon his forces an effective command structure which the allies recognised as highly effective.

Nor is it really clear from the book where or when Hoixha really developed his knowledge of Marxism-Lenninism - a yard stick with which he measured all other regimes and found them to be wanting. With a combination of self-criticism and clever delay tactics Hoxha was able to take the wind out of the oppositions sails before dividing and disposing of them in what was by then time honoured fashion and remained so for his reign.

Paranoia about enemies real and imagined seems to have dogged Envers rule with loyal friends and enemies dispatched in much the same way for deviations suspected or real, the trail of corpses is impressive as is their occasional rehabilitation, falling out of favour and rehabilitation along with exhumations and reburials according to their current status.

The final chapters of the book examine the increasingly friendless Hoxha as he withdraws further from the world and the country he leads.

There are interesting sections about life in the government complex and the stresses and strains on those living there and the false pleasantries and jockeying for survival within. Another chapter looks at Hoxhas increasing health problems and the fears this triggered concerning treatment. The role of Nexhmije, his wife, in the power structure is also considered, her influence seems to have been greater than her testimony would have people believe especially as Hoxhas health declined.

This book is certainly an important contribution to the literature on Enver Hoxha and Albania under his rule. It leaves a lot uncertain and unanswered but probably gets as close as we are likely to to an examination of the man and his mind, it unravels some of the questions but still leaves a host of others the answers to which he took to the grave.

As a study in power alone the book is worth reading. For anyone wanting to understand post-war Albania it is essential.


Blendi Fevziu

Share via Email Enver Hoxha in Journalists were routinely denied visas and subterfuge had to be employed to get across the border. The main feature was a crackly version of Henry V , starring Laurence Olivier, preceded by a short comedy turn by Norman Wisdom. With his cloth cap at a jaunty angle, censors for the Party of Labour of Albania assumed he exemplified the uplifting struggles of a typical English working-class lad. It showed the opening ceremony of a Congress of the Union of Albanian Women. This consisted of a long line of women, queuing to be greeted by Hoxha. Wearing a wide-brimmed hat and a light-grey double-breasted suit, he embraced each delegate with prolonged gusto.


Enver Hoxha

Demise of a Prime Minister The Final Purges The Years of Solitude Written like a crime novel, based on unparalleled access to once closed Albanian archives, the book is a must read for anyone who wants to understand communist Europe and how dictatorships get set up and eventually survive. This biography is a major achievement. This book is a masterful combination of biography and history.


Enver Hoxha: The Iron Fist of Albania by Blendi Fevziu review – the People’s Republic tyrant



Enver Hoxha : The Iron Fist of Albania


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