Twilight of Democracy: The Seductive Lure of Authoritarianism

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"A Pulitzer Prize-winning historian and journalist explains, with electrifying clarity, why some of her contemporaries have abandoned liberal democratic ideals in favor of strongman cults, nationalist movements, or one-party states. Across the world today, from the U.S. to Europe and beyond, liberal democracy is under siege while different forms of authoritarianism are on the rise. In Twilight of Democracy, prize-winning historian Anne Applebaum argues that we should not be surprised by this change: There is an inherent appeal to political systems with radically simple beliefs, especially when they benefit the loyal to the exclusion of everyone else. People are not just ideological, she contends in this captivating extended essay; they are also practical, pragmatic, opportunist. The authoritarian and nationalist parties that have arisen within modern democracies offer new paths to wealth or power for their adherents. Describing politicians, journalists, intellectuals, and others who have abandoned democratic ideals in the UK, U.S., Spain, Poland, and Hungary, Applebaum reveals the patterns that link the new advocates of illiberalism and charts how they use conspiracy theory, political polarization, social media, and nostalgia to change their societies."

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

ANNE APPLEBAUM's 2018 Atlantic article "A Warning from Europe" inspired this book and was a finalist for a National Magazine Award. After seventeen years as a columnist at The Washington Post, Applebaum became a staff writer at The Atlantic in 2020. She is the author of three critically acclaimed and award-winning histories of the Soviet Union: Red Famine, Iron Curtain, and Gulag, winner of the Pulitzer Prize.

REVIEWS:

"The book to buy for insight into what Trump's rise and rule really mean--here and abroad--for democracy in our time."
– Ron Elving, NPR

"Applebaum's historical expertise and knowledge of contemporary Europe and the United States illuminate what is eternal and distinctive about the political perils facing us today . . . Twilight of Democracy offers many lessons on the long-standing struggle between democracy and dictatorship. But perhaps the most important is how fragile democracy is: Its survival depends on choices made every day by elites and ordinary people."
– Sheri Berman, Washington Post

"An often sobering, sometimes shocking, but never despairing account of the rise of authoritarianism in the West."
– Los Angeles Review of Books

"Anne Applebaum is a leading historian of communism and a penetrating investigator of contemporary politics. Here she sets her sights on the big question, one with which she herself has been deeply engaged in both Europe and America: How did our democracy go wrong? This extraordinary document, written with urgency, intelligence, and understanding, is her answer."
– Timothy Snyder, author of On Tyranny

"Friendships torn. Ideals betrayed. Alliances broken. In this, her most personal book, a great historian explains why so many of those who won the battles for democracy or have spent their lives proclaiming its values are now succumbing to liars, thugs, and crooks. Analysis, reportage, and memoir, Twilight of Democracy fearlessly tells the shameful story of a political generation gone bad."
David Frum, author of Trumpocracy and Trumpocalypse

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