Former United Nations Ambassador and the first female Secretary of State, Madeline Albright has written a history of 20th century authoritarianism and Fascism.
Dr. Albright’s latest book is written in the straightforward language and the deep analysis and knowledge of an academic. She is a Professor in the Practice of Diplomacy at the Georgetown University of Foreign Service.
Starting with Mussolini and events that gave rise to Fascism and continuing to 2018, she writes about the historical forerunners to totalitarian rule, which she says are happening all around the world today. Dr. Albright writes; “When we awaken each morning, we see around the globe what appears to be Fascism’s early stirring: the discrediting of mainstream politicians, the emergence of leaders who seek to divide rather than to unite, the pursuit of political victory at all costs, and the invocation of national greatness by people who seem to possess only a warped concept of what greatness means. Most often, the signposts that should alert us are disguised: the altered constitution that passes for reform, the attacks on a free press justified by security, the dehumanizing of others masked as a defense of virtue, or the hollowing out of a democratic system so that all is erased but the label.”
The author discusses the history of authoritarianism from the 1920s until today-framing the story of her family’s own escape from Hitler’s occupation of Czechoslovakia in 1938, and a second time, after the Soviet invasion and coup d’état of 1948. Through many of her own negotiations as U.N. Ambassador and Secretary of State with leaders like Slobodan Milosevic (Serbia), Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong-il.
No matter the political view of the reader, even those who have studied comparative political systems and the fates of countries will find this a factual history, and also the evolution from democracy to autocracy both interesting and well written. The author’s insights into how a people can be maneuvered and manipulated into giving up their rights is helpful as is the information concerning dictators the reader might be unfamiliar with.
Dr. Albright continues to be a much admired international leader as she looks at the history and current resurgence of Fascism today and the threat it poses to inter-national freedom, prosperity and peace.
*As a background to “Fascism,” “Prague Winter: A Personal Story of Remembrance and War, 1937-1948” is a very interesting read. This is an autobiographical book in which Madeline Albright narrates her childhood experiences and memories. When Dr. Albright was 12, her life was forever changed by the Nazi invasion of Czechoslovakia. Dr. Albright draws on her memory, written reflections by her parents, eyewitness descriptions and newly discovered documents. A well written account.