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Description - The Passing of an Illusion by Francois Furet

A study of Communism and a history of the myth of Communism as perpetuated by its admirers. Francois Furet illuminates how the support for Communism and its embodiment, the Soviet Union, became virtually synonymous with "anti-Fascism" and how this strategic arrangement reverberated through the West. During the first half of the 20th century, to be against the Soviet Union (and its Communism), argues Furet, was tantamount to betraying the fight against Fascism, despite the fact that both Fascism and Communism ultimately spring from the same nationalist impulse. Thus the struggle against Fascism resulted in the sanitizing or glorification of Communism. This whitewashing of the Soviet regime's excesses not only kept alive the myth and attractiveness of the Communist promise but had complex moral, intellectual, and political ramifications for the West. This book is a history of the ideological passions that have fueled and characterized the modern era. It serves as an effort to revise the understanding of the 20th century at the "fin de siecle".

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780226273419
ISBN-10: 0226273415
Format: Paperback
(228mm x 152mm x 41mm)
Pages: 600
Imprint: University of Chicago Press
Publisher: The University of Chicago Press
Publish Date: 5-Jan-2001
Country of Publication: United States

Other Editions - The Passing of an Illusion by Francois Furet

Book Reviews - The Passing of an Illusion by Francois Furet

US Kirkus Review » A subtle, nuanced, but gripping study of the most pervasive and destructive illusion of the 20th century, that of the virtues of communism. This book by the late Furet, a member of the Academie Francaise, and scholar of the French Revolution, and himself a former Communist, has already been translated into more than a dozen languages. In it he tries to grapple with the paradox of the wide admiration for a regime like that of the Soviet Union, manifestly unfree, economically unsuccessful, and unprecedentedly brutal toward its people. He finds the basis for its appeal in its seeming promise of human equality but even more in the disillusionment created by the First World War, from which National Socialism also received its impetus. Indeed, he finds that communism and Nazism fed off each other and even suggests that Stalin, who admired Hitler's ruthlessness, learnt a lesson from the "Night of the Long Knives," during which Hitler purged the stormtroopers. Most of all, communism benefited from being seen as the sole anticapitalist, antifascist force. Its universality can be understood by its appeal even to the reformist British intelligentsia. Most surprising of all was the bland indifference of Western intellectuals to the monstrous cruelty of the terror. It was only when the terror had largely subsided, and when the Pastemaks and the Solzhenitsyns were merely being gagged and harassed rather than executed, that intellectuals protested. The end came, in Furet's view, when Khrushchev denounced Stalin's crimes, which brought into question the two wellsprings of the Soviet regime: ideology and terror. Most ironic of all, Furet suggests, is the paucity of interest shown by European intellectuals in the virtues of the American system of government. Furet devotes himself almost entirely to Europe, and the book, for all its vitality, is not easy reading. But there are few books that deal so well or with such subtlety with the opiate of the closing century's intellectuals. (Kirkus Reviews)

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Author Biography - Francois Furet

Francois 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 Academie Francaise, 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."

Books By Francois Furet

Lies, Passions, and Illusions by Francois Furet
Hardback, October 2014
Old Regime and the Revolution by Francois Furet
Paperback, June 2004
French Revolution by Francois Furet
Paperback, November 1996
Revolutionary France by Francois Furet
Paperback, September 1995