- Hardcover: 304 pages
- Publisher: Harper; First Edition edition (April 10, 2018)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0062802186
- ISBN-13: 978-0062856524
- Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 6.4 x 1.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 643 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,030 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Fascism: A Warning Hardcover – April 10, 2018
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“Fascism: A Warning is dedicated to victims of fascism, but also to “all who fight fascism in others and in themselves”. Mrs Albright has earned the right to that ambitious mission-statement. At a moment when the question “Is this how it begins?” haunts Western democracies, she writes with rare authority.... [Yet] if her learning is to be expected, her way with words is a happy surprise, as is her wisdom about human nature. Free of geopolitical jargon, her deceptively simple prose is sprinkled with shrewd observations about the emotions that underpin bad or wicked political decisions.” (Economist)
“Albright [has] serious credibility on the subject. She witnessed the evils of Fascism firsthand, as her book movingly chronicles. And she effectively makes the case: pay more attention to the signals, subtle and strong. A lot more.” (The New Yorker)
“Why, as Madeleine Albright asks early in her new book, ‘are we once again talking about fascism?’ Who better to address these questions than Albright, whose life was shaped by fascism and whose contribution to the cultivation of democracy as a stateswoman and private citizen is unparalleled? In Fascism: A Warning Albright (with Bill Woodward) draws on her personal history, government experience and conversations with Georgetown students to assess current dangers and how to deal with them.” (New York Times)
“Fascism [is] the work of a woman who knows authoritarianism when she sees it. And she sees the seeds of it not only in a slew of leaders hell bent on subverting democratic norms—Turkey’s Erdoğan, Venezuela’s Maduro, Hungary’s Orbán, and others—but also in Donald Trump, whom she calls in the book ‘the first antidemocratic president in modern U.S. history.’” (The Daily Beast)
“Besides providing an overview of the careers of Mussolini and Hitler, Albright looks at leaders such as Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez, Turkey’s Recep Erdogan, Hungary’s Viktor Orban, and Russia’s Vladimir Putin.... Sage advice in perilous times.” (Kirkus Reviews (starred review))
“Incisive… [Albright] offers cogent insights on worrisome political trends.” (Publishers Weekly)
“Albright outlines the warning signs of fascism and offers concrete actions for restoring America’s values and reputation. There is priceless wisdom on every page.” (Booklist (starred review))
From the Back Cover
The twentieth century was defined by the clash between democracy and Fascism, a struggle that created uncertainty about the survival of human freedom and left millions dead. Given these horrors, one might expect the world to reject the spiritual successors to Hitler and Mussolini should they arise in our era. In Fascism: A Warning, Madeleine Albright draws on her experiences as a child in war-torn Europe and her distinguished career as a diplomat to question that assumption.
Fascism not only endured through the course of the twentieth century, but now presents a more virulent threat to international peace and justice than at any time since the end of World War II.
Fascism: A Warning is a book for our times that is relevant to all times. Written with wisdom by someone who has not only studied history but helped to shape it, this call to arms teaches us the lessons we must understand and the questions we must answer if we are to save ourselves from repeating the tragic errors of the past.
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Albright is careful to warn against the indiscriminate use of the term "fascism," and she very properly begins this book with a discussion of its proper usage and meaning. Beginning with the origins of the term in the early twentieth century, she traces the development of Fascist regimes and leaders who promote Fascism, from Mussolini and Hitler through Stalin (who raged against Fascism while practicing it to an advanced degree) through to the present. Erdogan, Orban, Milosevic, the Kim dynasty, and Putin are some of the many practicing Fascists Albright covers. Donald Trump has a chapter devoted specifically to him, but Albright is not writing a partisan screed by any means, merely analyzing the man's behavior and actions and demonstrating their disturbing similarities to leaders who clearly practice Fascism. Perhaps the most important chapters are the final two, in which Albright enumerates the danger signs for the United States and the world and provides a series of questions to ask and steps to take for concerned citizens.
This is a book written for the general reader which does not abandon scholarly rigor. It is extensively documented with a Notes section that will be an excellent resource for those of us who wish to learn and study more. In 2018 the way forward for the United States and the world is uncertain, but we are still fortunate (so far) to have strong and confident voices like Albright's to guide us.
Figuratively speaking, this is really three books. The first will be the most divisive and may, in fact, quite unfortunately, relegate the book to practical irrelevance. The second book is extremely insightful and informative. And the third book, honestly, is pure gold and vintage Madeline Albright.
The first book begins with a contradiction. Albright openly acknowledges that Fascism has become a meaningless epithet, hurled, as it is, by opposing politicians of every stripe and at parents merely attempting to limit the cell phone usage of their children. She goes on to defend the titular use of the term, however, by clarifying her use of the term: “To my mind, a Fascist is someone who identifies strongly with and claims to speak for a whole nation or group, is unconcerned with the rights of others, and is willing to use whatever means are necessary—including violence—to achieve his or her goals.”
At that point, however, she hasn’t really narrowed the list of politicians who qualify for the pejorative label at all. Every reader will conclude that his or her political enemies fit the bill. She seals the fate of this portion of the book, however, when she asks, on page 4 of the book, “…why, this far into the twenty-first century, are we once again talking about Fascism?” And answers, “One reason, frankly, is Donald Trump. If we think of Fascism as a wound from the past that had almost healed, putting Trump in the White House was like ripping off the bandage and picking at the scab.” And she goes on to make thinly veiled comparisons between Trump, Mussolini, and Joseph McCarthy.
And, unfortunately, I fear, she, in one fell swoop of prose, both fuels the fires of division while exiling the book to practical irrelevance. In the end, she will likely only energize both political extremes, and, I suspect, the reader ratings of this book will ultimately reflect that.
That is most unfortunate because without those opening pages this would be a truly terrific book. It chronicles both relevant history and the recent past to a degree that few other people on the planet could.
The second part of the book is devoted to an analysis of recent political events in Hungary, Poland, Turkey, Venezuela, the Philippines, Russia, North Korea, and, of course, the United States. All, to varying degrees, she maintains, are showing signs of a slide toward Fascism and the decline of post-war liberal democracy. It is an informative analysis and unless you are a political junkie, you will learn a lot.
In the third part of the book she truly hits her stride. She notes, for starters, that the Fascist epithet may be appropriate for the US today for reasons having more to do with economics than populism. The Fascist Party of Italy, which gave rise to general use of the term, was the ultimate merger of the corporate and political states. And that is, in fact, what has happened here in the US.
The incorporation of America has been going on since the conservative movement of the 1980s, however, and while Trump is carrying the corporate water at the moment, he can hardly be blamed for allowing Wall Street and Silicon Valley to take control of Washington.
The incorporation accelerated greatly during the dot-com 90s when young entrepreneurs were preaching disruption and libertarianism. It is ironic, indeed, that tech’s “democratic” perspective has now produced among the biggest and most powerful corporations the world has ever known. And they pulled it off, actually, while the anti-trust regulators in both Republican and Democratic administrations stood by and watched.
To me what we have today is not so much analogous to the Fascist or Nazi parties of the mid-20th Century as it is the power of the church in Medieval Europe. The kings and queens of Washington may wear the crowns, but it is the corporate “popes” of Wall Street and Silicon Valley that are really calling the shots.
Which is why both parties, I think, should be fearful of whatever happens in the mid-term elections. Be careful what you wish for. Neither party has defined an agenda that addresses the issues that originally brought Trump to power. And until that happens I believe Albright’s Fascist warning will remain valid.
In the final chapters of the book Albright notes that putting American interests first invites Russia, China, and others to do the same. And it is here that she lowers her partisan guard (we all have one) and calls for unity through the recognition of our common humanity and the rejection of extremism that favors one group over another.
It is here that she also seems to soften her position on ideals of post-war democratic liberalism and focuses more on compassion, integrity, and fairness. I think of it as defining a new standard of shared obligation and responsibility that includes those countries and those people that aren’t rushing to implement an Electoral College and to copy our form of bare-knuckle individualism, but those are my words, not hers.
In the end she notes that spend her time on issues like: “…purging excess money from politics, improving civic education, defending journalistic independence, adjusting to the changing nature of the workplace, enhancing inter-religious dialogue, and putting a saddle on the bucking bronco we call the Internet.” It’s a perfect ending to what is a very good book by an inspiring individual.
I do recommend reading it.