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On Fascism : 12 Lessons From American History - Matthew C. MacWilliams

On Fascism

12 Lessons From American History

By: Matthew C. MacWilliams

Paperback | 1 November 2020

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An expert on American authoritarianism offers a searing rebuke to the exceptional narrative that dominates our understanding of US history. In 12 lessons, On Fascism exposes the divisive rhetoric, strongman tactics, violent othering, and mainstream attitudes that continue to course through American history?from the birth of the nation to Donald Trump. Only confrontation and reconciliation will empower us to truly achieve the democratic and egalitarian aspirations that American greatness rests upon.

The United States of Lyncherdom, as Mark Twain once said. Lincoln versus Douglas. The Chinese Exclusion Act. The Trail of Tears. The internment of Japanese-American. The Palmer Raids. McCarthyism. The Surveillance State. At every turning point in history, as we aspired towards great things, we also witnessed the authoritarian impulse drive policy and win public support.

But this book isn't simply an indictment. It is also a celebration of our spirit, perseverance, and commitment to the values at the heart of the American project. Along the way, we learn about many American heroes - like Ida B. Wells, who dedicated her life to documenting the horrors of lynching throughout the nation, or the young Jewish-American who took a beating for protesting a Nazi rally in New York City in 1939. Men and women who embodied the soaring, revolutionary proclamations beset by the Declaration of Independence and Preamble to the Constitution.

On Fascism is both an honest reckoning and a love letter to America - for our history is also diverse and special, and it's time we elevate the aspects of this country that make us exceptional.

About the Author

Matthew C. Macwilliams is a scholar and recognized expert on authoritarianism. He was the first researcher to use survey research to establish a link between Trump’s core supporters and authoritarianism. His work has been reprinted or referenced by leading media around the world including CNN, MSNBC, ABC, NBC, CBS, The Washington Post, Newsweek, and NPR. He has spoken to more the 50 Members of Congress and leaders from across Europe about the rise of authoritarianism.
Industry Reviews

To prevent the ravages of fascism, it's essential to understand its roots in our national character and experience. The twelve lessons in On Fascism draws from American history and brilliantly complement those of Timothy Snyder's On Tyranny.
--Laurence Tribe, Carl M. Loeb University Professor, Harvard University, and author of To End a Presidency

It is comforting to assume our nation is built on a secure foundation that protects our right to 'life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.' But far from being on solid ground, we are instead walking a precarious tightrope with no net except our better angels. As MacWilliams shows, authoritarian demagogues and a frightening portion of the public have always been willing and eager to tear away the balance pole of reason and push democracy into the abyss. By showing the failures of the past and the present, this accessible, alarming, and insightful work is a much needed reality check and counterweight to the resurgent extremism of our times.
--Brian Baird, PhD and former congressman for Washington's 3rd district

This is a very scary book--and one that every citizen who wants America to remain a democracy needs to read. A University of Massachusetts Amherst expert in authoritarianism, Matthew MacWilliams demonstrates with a rich review of US history how fragile (and still flawed) our system is. And, he convincingly warns that 'Trumpism' has put us on a path toward 'a hollowing out of our Republic' that only work and dedication by every citizen can help us avoid.
--Morton Kondracke, political commentator and author of Jack Kemp

In On Fascism, MacWilliams draws upon years of political campaign experience for his insights, further informed by an encyclopedic knowledge of public opinion data and his scholarly interest in and grasp of authoritarianism. The result is an eminently readable, fact-packed and compellingly argued treatise on just how imperiled America's representative democracy is at this point in the 21st Century.
--Les Francis, Deputy Chief of Staff to President Jimmy Carter

Written in a pithy manner, this is both a solemn reminder of America's unreckoned and yet celebrated past, and a course for a better future. MacWilliams guides readers in understanding how authoritarianism, through fear and ignorance, has shaped U.S. history, and will continue to do so if not properly addressed.

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