cover image Fascism: A Warning

Fascism: A Warning

Madeline Albright. HarperCollins, $26.99 (304p) ISBN 978-0-06-280218-7

Yes, it can happen here—and in other countries—according to Albright’s far-ranging exploration of the history and latter-day prospects of fascism. The Georgetown professor and former Clinton secretary of state identifies various characteristics of fascism, including hypernationalism and populism mixed with authoritarian-leaning rule, militarism, contempt for democratic customs, persecution of minority populations, a dread of disorder and decadence, charismatic leaders, and public spectacles. After probing accounts of the fascist models of Mussolini’s Italy and Hitler’s Germany, she finds that toxic brew in present-day Venezuela, Turkey, Hungary, Poland, Russia, North Korea, and right-wing parties generally. And then, she writes, there’s Donald Trump, “the first anti-democratic president in modern U.S. history,” whose bluster, “paranoid bigotry” against Muslims and immigrants, America-firstism, and rhetorical attacks on the press and judiciary set a fascistic example for world leaders and abdicate America’s role as global protector of democracy. Albright’s incisive analyses are enriched by her experiences as a refugee from Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia—her Jewish grandmother died in a concentration camp—and as America’s diplomat-in-chief; her vivid sketch of a surprisingly rational Kim Jong-Il anchors a sharp critique of Trump’s erratic approach to North Korea. Albright sometimes paints with too broad a brush in conceptualizing fascism, but she offers cogent insights on worrisome political trends. (Apr.)