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The Passing of an Illusion: The Idea of Communism in the Twentieth Centuryby Francois Furet
Synopses & Reviews
François Furet was acknowledged as the twentieth century's preeminent historian of the French Revolution. But years before his death, he turned his attention to the consequences and aftermath of another critical revolution—the Communist revolution. The result, Le passé d'une illusion, is a penetrating history of the ideological passions that have fueled and characterized the modern era.
"This may well be the most illuminating study ever devoted to the question of appeal exerted not only by Communism but also by the Nazi and other fascist varieties of totalitarianism in this century."—Hilton Kramer, New Criterion
"A subtle, nuanced but gripping study of the most pervasive and destructive illusion in the 20th century." —Kirkus Reviews, starred review
"The Passing of an Illusion . . . is both a profound work of intellectual history that takes its place alongside other great studies of the leftist heresy . . . and a relentless diagnosis of the self-subversive risks that are inherent in democratic regimes. "—Roger Kaplan, Washington Times
" A remarkable book. . . . Stimulating and challenging. . . . A man widely read in several languages, Furet clearly knew his way around 20th-century Europe, even unto the dark alleys that figure on no existing map. "—Mark Falcoff, Commentary
"A history of ideas, this work is not for the faint of heart, yet those who challenge it will discover a signal contribution to the literature of Communism."—Booklist
"Imperious and stunningly confident, grand in conception and expansive in manner, packed with fascinating detail and often incisive judgements."—John Dunn, Times Higher Education Supplement
"The Passing of an Illusion is brilliant, and one would be hard pressed to find better writing of history than the first chapter, which traces the roots of modern political thinking back to the nineteenth century."—J. Arch Getty, Atlantic Monthly
"A brilliant and important book. . . . The publication of the American edition makes accessible to the general reader the most thought-provoking historical assessment of communism in Europe to appear since its collapse."—Jeffrey Herf, Wall Street Journal
François Furet (1927-1997), educator and author, was a Chevalier of the Legion of Honor and was elected, in 1997, to become one of the "Forty Immortals" of the Académie Française, the highest intellectual honor in France. His many books include Interpreting the French Revolution, Marx and the French Revolution, and Revolutionary France. Deborah Furet, his widow, collaborated with him on many projects.
Book News Annotation:
An English translation of a work originally published in France in 1995, this volume discusses the reality and the myth of Communism in the 20th Century. Furet, a recipient of France's highest intellectual honor, shows how support for the idea of Communism, as well as for the Soviet Union as its embodiment, came to be seen as synonymous with "anti-Fascism," despite the common nationalist origins of both Fascism and Communism. He discusses the ramifications of this confusion for both the East and West. The author's personal experience as a Communist himself during the years 1949 to 1956 lends a personal aspect to his investigation.
Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Franand#231;ois Furet needs little introduction. Widely considered one of the leading historians of the French Revolution, he was a maverick for his time, shining a critical light on the entrenched Marxist interpretations that prevailed during the mid-twentieth century. Shortly after his death in 1997, theand#160;New York Review of Booksand#160;called him and#147;one of the most influential men in contemporary France.and#8221;and#160;Lies, Passions, and Illusionsand#160;is a fitting capstone to this celebrated authorand#8217;s oeuvre: a late-career conversation with philosopher Paul Ricoeur on the twentieth century writ large, a century of violence and turmoil, of unprecedented wealth and progress, in which history advanced, for better or worse, in quantum leaps.
This conversation would be, sadly, Furetand#8217;s lastand#151;he died while Ricoeur was completing his edits. Ricoeur did not want to publish his half without Furetand#8217;s approval, so what remains is Furetand#8217;s alone, an astonishingly cohesive meditation on the political passions of the twentieth century. With strokes at once broad and incisive, he examines the many different trajectories that nations of the West have followed over the past hundred years. It is a dialogue with history as it happened but also as a form of thought. It is a dialogue with his critics, with himself, and with those major thinkersand#151;from Tocqueville to Hannah Arendtand#151;whose ideas have shaped our understanding of the tragic dramas and upheavals of the modern era. It is a testament to the crucial role of the historian, a reflection on how history is made and lived, and how the imagination is a catalyst for political change. Whether new to Furet or deeply familiar with his work, readers will find thought-provoking assessments on every page, a deeply moving look back at one of the most tumultuous periods of history and how we might learn and look forward from it.and#160;
Several years before his untimely death, Furet, acknowledged as this century's preeminent historian of the French Revolution, turned his attention to the consequences and aftermath of the Communist revolution. The result was this work, a book that sparked discussion and controversy on both sides of the Atlantic. Now available in English.
About the Author
Table of Contents
1. The Revolutionary Passion
2. World War I
3. The Universal Spell of October
4. Believers and Unbelievers
5. Socialism in One Country
6. Communism and Fascism
7. Communism and Anti-Fascism
8. Anti-Fascist Culture
9. World War II
10. Communism at the End of World War II
11. Cold War Communism
12. The Beginning of the End
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