Nonfiction from Albright, Herbers, and Snyder on Fascism, Civil Rights, and Russia's Politics | Xpress Reviews

Readers interested in political systems and international relations will appreciate Albright’s outlook; those interested in race relations as well as the importance of a free press will admire this volume; this compelling blend of scholarship and investigative journalism will appeal to anyone with an interest in contemporary politics

Week ending May 4, 2018

 

Albright, Madeleine. Fascism: A Warning. Harper. Apr. 2018. 304p. notes. index. ISBN 9780062802187. $27.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062802231. POL SCI

Former U.S. secretary of state Albright began work on this book before the 2016 election as a response to assaults on democratic values in other countries but asserts its relevance only increased during and since the election. In discussions during Albright’s classes at Georgetown University, she and her students concluded that fascism should be viewed more as a means of seizing and holding power than as a political ideology. They defined it as an extreme form of authoritarian rule linked to a doctrine of rabid nationalism. Through her perspective as a victim of Hitler’s takeover of her native Czechoslovakia in 1938, Albright summarizes the history of fascism from its origins in Italy during the 1920s and rise in Germany in the 1930s. The author further documents modern experiences in countries such as Venezuela, Turkey, and Hungary that have replaced democratic systems with more authoritarian governments and relates meeting former North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, explaining why government may best represent fascism today. Albright hopes that citizens are aware of the challenges to democratic values; for freedom to survive, she believes, it must be defended.

Verdict Readers interested in political systems and international relations will appreciate Albright’s outlook. [See Prepub Alert, 10/9/17.]—Jill Ortner, SUNY Buffalo Libs.

 

Herbers, John N. with Anne Farris Rosen. Deep South Dispatch: Memoir of a Civil Rights Journalist. Univ. Pr. of Mississippi. Apr. 2018. 250p. index. ISBN 9781496816740. $28. BIOG

Born in the South, journalist Herbers (1923–2017) covered the civil rights movement, starting as a reporter with United Press International (UPI) in 1951. After completing a Neiman Fellowship in journalism at Harvard, the author (No Thank You, Mr. President) moved to UPI’s Washington Bureau in 1962, yet in 1963 he accepted an offer from the New York Times to return to the South to address civil rights once again. Over the course of his career, Herbers wrote about many landmark confrontations, including the trial of Emmett Till; the Birmingham, AL, church bombing; the Freedom Summer; and the Selma marches. His reporting led him to interview Martin Luther King Jr., Congressman John Lewis, and other activists. Collaborating on this memoir with his daughter, journalist Rosen, Herbers draws on his archive and offers personal reflections on these stories. The memoir closes with musings on his reunion with Lewis 50 years after Selma, with each man recognizing the essential contribution of the other. Verdict Readers interested in race relations as well as the importance of a free press will admire this volume.—Judy Solberg, Sacramento, CA

 

Snyder, Timothy. The Road to Unfreedom: Russia, Europe, America. Tim Duggan: Crown. Apr. 2018. 368p. maps. notes. index. ISBN 9780525574460. $27; ebk. ISBN 9780525574484. POL SCI

Historian Snyder (Levin Professor of History, Yale Univ.; On Tyranny) explores the development of what he calls the “politics of eternity,” from the 20th-century Russian philosopher Ivan Ilyin to Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump, providing a revealing look through a series of meticulously researched case studies at how the modern Russian state operates. After a lengthy assessment of Ilyin’s Christian fascist thought, Snyder describes the tactics of “managed democracy” that allowed Putin to consolidate power under the guise of free elections. Russia’s role in undermining the European Union receives a chapter, as does the Ukrainian revolution and the Russian invasion. All of this contributes to a historical investigation into the recent past as a way of understanding the dynamics of Russian politics today and its influence on Europe and the United States. The “eternity” politician, in Snyder’s view, is epitomized by the oligarch, who governs by “invoking myth and manufacturing crisis.” This method worked for Putin and has been embraced by Trump. In the final chapter, Snyder exposes the financial ties between Trump and Russian moguls and gangsters, concluding that “Trump was the payload of a cyberweapon, meant to create chaos and weakness, as in fact he has done.”

Verdict This compelling blend of scholarship and investigative journalism will appeal to anyone with an interest in contemporary politics. [See Prepub Alert, 10/9/17.]—Thomas Karel, Franklin & Marshall Coll. Lib., Lancaster, PA

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