July 30, 2007

Dark Continent

Dave and Elli gave this to me a year ago. I gobbled it up; it's brilliant. It got me into a fight with the in laws; I thought perhaps I'd better let it cool off a bit.

20th century Europe is about the conflict between three Big Ideas: Communism, Fascism, and Liberal Democracy. Mazower sets out to reconstruct, with directness, simplicity, and astonishing vividness, what these ideas were and why they seemed good at the time. A lot of these ideas, repackaged, are flourishing today in New Jersey and Kansas and Midland, Texas.

If you aren't exactly sure what Fascism is, if you think it's just a term of opprobrium and can't imagine why any decent, intelligent person would back it, you need to read this book before the next election.