Democracy and Populism

Fear and Hatred

John Lukacs

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This intensely interesting—and troubling—book is the product of a lifetime of reflection and study of democracy. In it, John Lukacs addresses the questions of how our democracy has changed and why we have become vulnerable to the shallowest possible demagoguery.
Lukacs contrasts the political systems, movements, and ideologies that have bedeviled the twentieth century: democracy, Liberalism, nationalism, fascism, Bolshevism, National Socialism, populism. Reflecting on American democracy, Lukacs describes its evolution from the eighteenth century to its current form—a dangerous and possibly irreversible populism. This involves, among other things, the predominance of popular sentiment over what used to be public opinion. This devolution has happened through the gigantic machinery of publicity, substituting propaganda—and entertainment—for knowledge, and ideology for a sense of history. It is a kind of populism that relies on nationalism and militarism to hold society together.
Lukacs’s observations are original, biting, timely, sure to inspire lively debate about the precarious state of American democracy today.

John Lukacs writes widely on American and European history. He is one of the world’s great experts on Churchill and on Hitler.

A selection of the Eagle Book Club, Readers' Subscription, and the Conservative Book Club

"Mr. Lukacs is one of the more incisive historians of the 20th century, and especially of the tangled events leading to World War II."—Joseph C. Goulden, Washington Times

"In taking up Tocqueville’s theme, Democracy in America, our most perceptive and far-ranging historian corrects many misconceptions about the recent past and deals commandingly with this country’s zeal to implant our blend of freedoms abroad. He will arouse thought as he always does and stir the emotions more than usual.”—Jacques Barzun


"Fascinating."—Rod Dreher, Dallas Morning News

“Lukacs is indisputably one of the English language’s greatest—and most idiosyncratic—historians. . . . [His] prose is clear and crisp. . . . This is a wonderful book to chew on. . . . For the intelligent and historically literate general reader, this may well be a great joy.”—Jonah Goldberg, National Review

“Lukacs invites us to share in a relaxed meditation on the present condition of democracy, above all in America. The style is often conversational. Instead of an argument, we are offered a series of apercus, many of them haunting and even brilliant.”—David Marquand, New Statesman

“Lukacs, the outspoken historian, provides some satisfyingly inflammatory notions.”—Neil Genzlinger, New York Times Book Review


"Like all the great historians, this Hungarian-American [Lukacs], also is a great philosopher of history. He is best known for developing his idea of 'historical consciousness' and as a historian of World War II, the Cold War and democracy in America."—John Seiler, Orange County Register (CA)

“Lukacs offers a compact view of political change in Europe and the United States from the Napoleonic Wars to the present, with a particular focus on his area of expertise, WWII and the decades just before and after.”—Publishers Weekly



"Provocative. . . . Lukacs’s work provides a valuable framework for understanding the consequences of change that reorders the world and our perceptions of it."—Jim Hoagland, Washington Post

“Mr. Lukacs . . . sees the history of the last several decades as a slide into barbarism. . . . [He] writes a particularly rich and textured history. . . . Mr. Lukacs’ urbanity, his broad reading and ability to recall what’s significant in that reading, are apparent in his new book. . . . [He] may be convinced that ours is a barbaric time, but his presence among us is happy evidence to the contrary.”—Steve Goode, Washington Times

"A sobering meditation upon the degeneration of Western democracy into populism and aggressive nationalism."—National Catholic Reporter

"Well-crafted thought tools to loosen the screws holding outmoded ideas."—Future Survey
ISBN: 9780300107739
Publication Date: March 8, 2005
256 pages, 5 1/2 x 8 1/4
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