April 16, 2013
Relationship Between Communism and Fascism Is Subject of Book Discussion
“The Devil in History” Draws on Author’s Personal Experiences
Political scientist Vladimir Tismaneanu – in his new book, “The Devil in History: Communism, Fascism and Some Lessons of the 20th Century” (University of California Press, 2012) – reflects on his experiences with communist totalitarianism to explore the movement’s political passions, radicalism and utopian ideals, as well as its consequences in the 20th century’s experiments in social engineering.
Tismaneanu will discuss and sign his book on Monday, April 29, at noon, in Room LJ 119 of the Thomas Jefferson Building, located at 10 First St. S.E., Washington, D.C. This Books & Beyond program of the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress is co-sponsored with the Library’s European Division. It is free and open to the public; no tickets are required.
During the week of April 29, the Library will host a series of lectures, panels and presentations under the theme “Igniting Conversations, Illuminating Minds.” The events – sponsored by the Library’s Center for the Book, European Division, John W. Kluge Center, Law Library and Poetry and Literature Center – will feature experts and notable thinkers in the areas of history, law, culture and public affairs.
“The Devil in History” compares communism and fascism as competing, sometimes overlapping, and occasionally strikingly similar systems of political totalitarianism. Tismaneanu examines the inherent ideological appeal of these radical and revolutionary political movements, the visions of salvation and revolution they pursued, the charismatic types who led them, the violence within these systems and their legacies in contemporary politics.
The author discusses thinkers who have shaped contemporary understanding of totalitarian movements, such as Hannah Arendt, Raymond Aron, Isaiah Berlin, Albert Camus, François Furet, Tony Judt, Ian Kershaw, Leszek Kolakowski, Richard Pipes and Robert C. Tucker. The book is as much a theoretical analysis of the practical philosophies of Marxism-Leninism and Fascism as it is a political biography of particular figures. According to the author, it deals with the incarnation of the diabolically nihilistic principles of human subjugation and conditioning in the name of presumably pure and purifying goals.
Vladimir Tismaneanu is a professor of comparative politics at the University of Maryland at College Park. His books include “Fantasies of Salvation: Democracy, Nationalism and Myth in Post-Communist Societies,” “Reinventing Politics” and “Stalinism for All Seasons: A Political History of Romanian Communism.” In 2010-2012, he was president of the Scientific Council of the Institute for the Investigation of Communist Crimes in Romania.
Since its creation by Congress in 1977 to “stimulate public interest in books and reading,” the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress (www.Read.gov/cfb/) has become a national force for reading and literacy promotion. A public-private partnership, it sponsors educational programs that reach readers of all ages, nationally and internationally. The center provides leadership for affiliated state centers for the book (including the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands) and nonprofit reading-promotion partners and plays a key role in the annual Library of Congress National Book Festival. It also oversees the Library’s Read.gov website and administers the Poetry and Literature Center and the Library’s Young Readers Center.
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