On a Book Review – Fascism: A Warning

I recall seeing former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright on various talk shows promoting this book. Once I decided to use the public library during my stay in Alabama, this book was at the top of my list – especially after reading Prague Winter a few months earlier.

Fascism: A Warning was not available on my first trip to the library, so that’s when I read Albright’s The Mighty and the Almighty: Reflections on America, God and World Affairs. Not long thereafter, I reserved the book I wanted.

Published by Harper-Collins in 2018, Fascism: A Warning contains 254 pages within 17 chapters, plus acknowledgments, endnotes, bibliography, and an index.

Throughout the book, she shares her personal experiences with Fascism that started as a child during WWII in her native Czechoslovakia – a country for who her father served as a diplomat – a country with a proud democracy – a country later controlled by Nazis – a country that would become part of the Communist bloc – a country that would regain democracy as part of the Velvet Revolution in late 1989.

Her personal history involves being born in Czechoslovakia, living in Serbia, living in exile in England during WWII, returning to Czechoslovakia, and fleeing to the United States. Reading Prague Winter helped me understand life during the 1930s and 1940s – as well as the loss of family members in the Holocaust.

To introduce the topic (Fascism), Albright shares discussions with and thoughts by students in her classes at Georgetown University. Because of my past-life as a teacher, I know the importance of this by dealing with prior knowledge and misconceptions very early in the learning process. Her definition of a Fascist is the following:

Fascist: Someone who claims to speak for a whole nation or group, someone who is utterly unconcerned with the Rights of others, and is willing to use violence and whatever means are necessary to achieve the goals he or she might have.

After the introduction, the next four chapters center around Adolf Hitler (Germany) and Benito Mussolini (Italy) – their rise to power, their styles, their relationship, and their demise. General Francisco Franco (Spain) is embedded. If you recall this post past I did as a Final Jeopardy question (about Fascism), I based the list primarily on the first five chapters of this book.

The Chapters 6-14 focuses on past leaders as Joseph Stalin (USSR) and Slobodan Milosevic (former Yugoslavia); plus modern leaders as Hugo Chavez & Nicolas Maduro (Venezuela) with past leaders Juan & Eva Peron (Argentina) and Rodrigo Duterte (Philippines) are integrated into the chapter. Vladimir Putin (Russia), Recep Tayyip Erdogan (Turkey), Viktor Orban (Hungary), and the three generations of Kims in North Korea (DPRK) have dedicated chapters. Jaroslav Kaczynski (Poland) is integrated in the chapter about Hungary.

While a separate chapter focuses on President Trump, different US Presidents (starting with FDR) appear throughout the book. Madeleine Albright is perfectly clear that she is not a fan of President Trump, his agenda, and his tactics. She continues to believe in the strong light of liberty and democracy along with having a strong faith in the United States. (For the record, President Trump has praised at least four of the leaders listed in the previous paragraph.)

Chapter 16 examines if Fascism could become dominant in the US. After all, aspects of US history have events paralleling Europe. For instance, a Nazi movement in the US existed in the 1930s and 1940s.

In Chapter 17 (the final chapter), Albright focuses on connecting the dots by looking at the present world through the lens of the past and her experiences as a diplomat and a human. She unquestionably sees the growth in modern-day Fascism as a threat to international peace.

This is the third book I’ve read by Madeleine Albright, and like the others, it’s an easy read and meant for the general public. As with her other books, the reader’s political view will impact her words and their conclusions. Bill Woodward co-authors all three books with Albright.

For me, this book has a scary side – but I also see a hope. Then again, humanity as a way of not learning from its mistakes. Thumbs up to Fascism: A Warning.

45 thoughts on “On a Book Review – Fascism: A Warning

  1. We live in a scary time, and there is also such ignorance.Too many people believe the lies of leaders, and they don’t actually read much and lack critical thinking skills. Though many see the emperor has no clothes, others see what they want to see.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I have this on my list of books to read, but have been avoiding non-fiction lately because I’m all about escapism into other worlds. That will pass and I’ll get my head out of the sand again. When it does, I’ll see if our library has this book available. I am particularly interested in reading about Viktor Orban. My idiot congressman (Andy Harris, part of the so-called Freedom Caucus), is a big fan of Orban, defending him and going off to visit with him from time to time. It recently came to light that his father (who was Hungarian) was pro-Hitler, but the details are sketchy and I’m not sure how reliable the info is. It came out because Harris is always telling the story of how his father was anti-communist and ended up in a Soviet gulag for a short period of time. I don’t care too much about the sins of the father, but have big problems with his relationship with Orban.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Robin,
      I can see the benefit of personal escapism – especially during these crazy, goofy times … but wow – you Rep is outwardly pro-Orban. Oh boy! .. and then there are the voters who blindly support the Rep. Oh boy! Thanks for sharing.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I thought I’d be escaping into a fictional world with the latest Barbara Kingsolver (my favorite author), but was mistaken. The portions of the book set in the 19th century are clearly intended as a lesson on today’s problems.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Yesterday I started my post-European trip AFA catchup with your May 25 post ‘On Tidbits of a Conflict,’ which led me to the article in the May issue of The Atlantic Magazine – “Elegy for the American Century” by former two time U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Richard Holbrooke (Asia from 1977 to 1981 and Europe from 1994 to 1996). My reasoning for both had been to start a long overdue boning up process on the political history of the Balkans, which I further neglect at my peril. Now, however, in your post today, you convincingly add the necessity of my reading all three of Madeleine Albright’s books – starting with “Fascism: A Warning.” By the way, on your recommendation I started “The Mighty and the Almighty” several months ago, and really liked Albright’s writing style, but then got sidetracked by a host of distractions related to the trip and trying out my new golf swing. Glad to be back home now though. Looking forward to reading your beach walk posts.

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    • Tim,
      Welcome back. Yes, the writing style of Albright and her co-author is easy reading. She also has a fourth book – Madam Secretary – which I have not read. Glad to see you are willing to bone-up on your knowledge of the complexity that is the Balkans region. In terms of your new golf swing – at least the 4000th (and probably higher), you are officially banned from discussing any golf swing with me unless I specifically ask.

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  4. Frank,

    For people who say “Well it could never happen here,” I ask . . did you see 2016 coming before it happened? Of course not. No one did. Because it was always a cocktail party joke, it wasn’t something we ever really took seriously. Until it happened.

    I was listening (half listening whilst I was driving through a t-storm) to a discussion on NPR about our system of governance. And one of the participants was saying that conflict is good, because it leads to change. Add to that, if we believe the system is broken, people are more motivated to fix it.

    Hope this person is right.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Marc,
      The majority of me feels it wouldn’t happen here – but there is a part of me that can see it happen. The people/supporters who vote that way are in total denial. As far as the NPR discussion, I agree that (in general) conflict leads to change – BUT – that change isn’t always positive or good. On the other hand, the two dominant parties in our system may not let it change because they would lose power. Bottom line – we currently have a mess – (which is Obama’s fault).

      Liked by 1 person

  5. It won’t happen here.
    What happened in 2016 was a combination of two things, people taking Trump for granted because he could never win and the Democrats being too confident in a very weak candidate
    that had too many flaws and ran a terrible campaign..

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Another excellent review. I’ve already thought of a few people who will love this book – great gifts. Sounds strange, maybe, but the topic is on many of our minds now. I never thought we’d have to worry about Fascism in our country, but now I’m not so sure.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Resa,
      All the book I’ve (and others) have mentioned actually can stand alone. However (to me), they intertwine. I think Prague Winter sets a wonderful stage for the others because it’s about her life – her family during World War 2. On the other hand, is it necessary to read it, no.

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  7. I was so glad that I took the time to read this book. You did a wonderful job of creating an effective outline and I hope many others will pick it up and read! I’m eager to read Prague Winter, now. Nicely done, Frank.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Debra,
      Cheers to the second commenter who read the book and supports my review. (I recall that you were reading it.) Let me know how you enjoy Prague Winter (In case you don’t remember, I reviewed it,)

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I just finished reading The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah which is a about the woman’s role in France during the Nazi’s invasion of WWII. Two sister’s, one who ends up guiding downed British fighter pilots across the Pyrenees mountains. Parts of the story are true – the sister who guides the pilots. I was crying by the end of the story. Kristin Hannah does a wonderful job describing the courage and resilience of the woman’s role in the war.

    Liked by 1 person

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