I find writing about books focused on a ‘weighty’ topic hard. I don’t want, as many amateur reviewers do, to get so carried away with presenting my own thoughts on the subject that I forget to offer an opinion about the book itself. (I had the same problem with Jodi Picoult’s fine Small Great Things; I did NOT want to start sounding off about racism.)
So all I’m going to say here that Madeleine Albright is a very good writer and that this book is not at all the dry, academic tome you might have expected from her previous career as a diplomat. It’s brisk and (very) readable. Starting with an account of fascism in the 20th century (Mussolini, Hitler and Stalin), it then moves on to outline several comparable movements (and their chief proponents) in different countries: Milošević, Orbán, Chávez, Kaczyński, Erdoğan, the Kims of North Korea, Putin and (yes) Trump.
She avoids outrage and calumny. The tone remains calm and reasonable. But there’s no denying the parallels she draws between past and present… At which point I see that I’m beginning to do what I said I wouldn’t at the beginning. So I’ll stop. With this.
I think it’s an excellent book.