The Iron Fist of Albania
Author(s): Blendi Fevziu
Reviewed by: Abdullah Drury, University of Waikato, New Zealand
This is a depressing but compelling read. The first major biography in the English language of Enver Hoxha (1908–1985), this book is both novel and very long overdue. For forty years Hoxha was the brutal Stalinist dictator of Albania noted for his unswerving severity, personal paranoia and rampant xenophobia. His macabre Kafkaesque regime was marked by the customary communist penchant for Marxism and Leninism, the collectivisation of agriculture and the nationalisation of industry, and the usual cult of personality, oppression, tyranny and human rights violations. When he died Albania was isolated and impoverished, the third poorest country on earth. Hoxha was also infamous for his ruthless quest for political power to a degree considered pathological by even eastern European and communist norms. In addition to murdering serious rivals, his egotistical wrath and pronounced jealousy led him to have countless friends and lifetime beneficiaries liquidated. ‘In the entire history of Albania no single individual ever failed people’s expectations more spectacularly’ (p. 93). A heartless dictator who prohibited the private ownership of chickens in 1982 and yet maintained an extensive collection of Agatha Christie mysteries and vampire literature in his private library, is part of a narrative worthy of further study....