The Devil in History: Communism, Facism, and Some Lessons of the Twentieth Century

Cleveland Park Library

The Devil in History: Communism, Facism, and Some Lessons of the Twentieth Century

Author Talk

Book Cover: The Devil in HistoryPlease join us at the library on Tuesday, Nov.13, at 7 p.m. as University of Maryland Professor Vladimir Tismaneanu discusses his most recent book, The Devil in History

An analysis of the relationship between communism and fascism, this work reflects the author’s personal experiences within communist totalitarianism, and examines political passions, radicalism, utopian ideals, and their catastrophic consequences in the twentieth century’s experiments in social engineering. Vladimir Tismaneanu compares communism and fascism as competing, sometimes overlapping -- and occasionally strikingly similar -- systems of political totalitarianism. He examines the inherent ideological appeal of these radical, revolutionary political movements, the visions of salvation and revolution they pursued, the value and types of charisma of leaders within these political movements, the place of violence within these systems and their legacies in contemporary politics.

The author also discusses thinkers who have shaped the contemporary understanding of totalitarian movements — people such as Hannah Arendt, Raymond Aron, Isaiah Berlin, Albert Camus, François Furet, Tony Judt, Ian Kershaw, Leszek Kolakowski, Richard Pipes and Robert C. Tucker. As much a theoretical analysis of the practical philosophies of Marxism-Leninism and Fascism as it is a political biography of particular figures, this book deals with the incarnation of nihilistic principles of human subjugation and conditioning in the name of presumably pure and purifying goals. Ultimately, the author claims that no ideological commitment, no matter how absorbing, should ever prevail over the sanctity of human life.

The Devil in History was recently reviewed by The Daily Beast

This event is presented in partnership with the Embassy of Romania, Washington D.C.  Copies of the book will be available for purchase and signing at the conclusion of the program.

About the Author:
Vladimir Tismaneanu is Professor of Comparative Politics at the University of Maryland, College Park, and author of several books, including Stalinism for All Seasons: A History of Romanian Communism, Fantasies of Salvation: Democracy, Nationalism and Myth in Post-Communist Europe, and Reinventing Politics: Eastern Europe from Stalin to Havel