In That Line of Darkness Vol. II: The Gothic from Lenin to bin Laden, Robert A. Douglas continues his exploration of the history of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries as seen through a Gothic lens. As he did in the first volume, Douglas deploys Gothic conventions — the uncanny, psychic vampirism, the demonization of the other, the double, the compulsion for racial purity and the power of the primitive past to threaten the modernist present — to illuminate the Soviet Union under Lenin and Stalin, Nazi Germany during the 1930s and modern America from the early Cold War to the war on terrorism.

The first volume — The Shadow of Dracula and the Great War — was grounded in literature. This second volume is grounded in historical fact, though Joseph Conrad’s The Heart of Darkness is a seminal text for Douglas’ examination of America.
In The Gothic from Lenin to bin Laden, the tropes are no longer those of vampires or the atavistic primitive embedded in the spirit of a respectable Victorian gentleman, but are drawn from the world of police states and even from open societies engaged in propaganda that has been frequently vampiric in substance, constructed to dehumanize the “other”. The Gothic survives here, as Douglas shows, in the horror of interrogation chambers, mass executions and the “undead” of the camps — and the more recent and inhumane treatment of civilians.

"If only there were evil people somewhere committing insidiously evil acts, and it were necessary only to separate them from therest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?"
The Gulag Archipelago
  Alexander Solzhenitsyn

"There must be a moment at the beginning,where we all could have said no. But somehow we missed it."

                                       Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead
                                       Tom Stoppard                

"When you cross over that line of darkness, it’s hard to come back."
 The Dark Side                      
                        former CIA officer as  quoted by Jane Meyer



Douglas has written:

"Paranoia is a hallmark of Gothic fiction: the reader is uncertain
about whether the fears of the characters are based on reality. In
the underlying ideologies of both totalitarian states and militant
Islamist groups, paranoia is a palpable force. Their irrational delusions—
that a racially immaculate community will defeat a global
Jewish conspiracy to subvert German civilization; that history will
vindicate the virtuous proletariat over the exploitative bourgeoisie;
and that since the West has waged war against Muslims, all
acts of violence are justifi ed—are the source from which their need
for total manipulation of their subjects springs. The attributes assigned
to enemies (real and imaginary) o en refl ect more aboutthe mindset
of those who would destroy them.

“In his magisterial confrontation of the politics of fear, Robert Douglas forcefully reminds us of the darkness that lives in us all; how even the most ‘civilized’ and ‘enlightened’ can succumb to the spell of paranoid leaders; how the primeval past infuses the post-modern present; how we are the mirror image of the monster we wish to destroy. Douglas’ unflinching look at the universal and timeless phenomenon of unconscious projection -- our craving for scapegoats to pave the road to social and political utopias -- can only end in mass terror. Let he who is without darkness cast the first stone.”
James FitzGerald,,
                            author of What Disturbs Our Blood
                            Winner of the 2010 Writers’ Trust Non-Fiction Prize



Click on this link to go to Robert Douglas' web site devoted to That Line of Darkness.


Robert Douglas was born in London, Ontario, received his high school education in Sudbury, and BA and MA degrees from the University of Toronto. He taught history and a variety of social sciences at the secondary level for the Durham and Peel Board of Education, including an alternative school for over twenty years in Mississauga and an independent girls’ school, Branksome Hall, in Toronto. It was his love of teaching a single course—a multi-disciplined Western Civilization programme—and his passion for international travel, wide reading and conversation that were the inspirations for the two-volume That Line of Darkness. Writing became a complement to teaching in the hopes of reaching a larger audience.

Douglas enjoys swimming, cycling and walking, particularly in New York, London and the cities of Europe. He mission everywhere is to ferret out interesting second hand bookstores and stimulating theatre and art. For more than twenty years, the author and his wife, Gayle, have hosted monthly soirees. After dinner and wine and the viewing of a documentary film, conversation ranges over diverse political, social and artistic topics.


From 1 February, 2013, That Line of Darkness: The Gothic from Lenin to bin Laden may be ordered from your favourite bookstore. You may also purchase the book directly from this website for $42.00 for the clothbound edition or at a discounted price of $25.95 for the paperback, (plus, alas HST where applicable and shipping) by e-mailing us at We will provide you with payment instructions. Shipping is usually within 12 hours.

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