A Century of Populist Demagogues
Eighteen European Portraits, 1918–2018
The renowned historian Ivan T. Berend discusses populist demagoguery through the presentation of eighteen politicians from twelve European countries spanning World War I to the present. Berend defines demagoguery, reflects on its connections with populism, and examines the common features and differences in the demagogues' programs and language.
Mussolini and Hitler, the "model demagogues," are only briefly discussed, as is the election of Donald Trump in the United States and its impact on Europe. The eighteen detailed portraits include two communists, two fascists, and several right-wing and anti-EU politicians, extending across the full range of demagoguery. The author covers Béla Kun, the leader of the Hungarian Soviet Republic in 1919, weaving through Codreanu and Gömbös from the 1930s, on to Stahremberg and Haider in Austria, and then more broadly throughout Europe from Ceauescu, Milošević, Tuđjman, Izetbegović, Berlusconi, Wilders, to the two Le Pens, Farage, and Boris Johnson, Orbán and the two Kaczyńskis. Each case includes an analysis of the time and place and is illustrated with quotations from the demagogues' speeches.
This book is a warning about the continuing threat of populist demagogues both for their subjects and for history itself. Berend insists on the crucial importance for Europe to understand the reality behind their promises and persuasive language as imperative to impeding their success.
The renowned historian Ivan T. Berend reviews eighteen politicians from twelve European countries from World War I to the present, two communists, two fascists, and several rightwing and anti-EU militants. The portraits include persons like Haider, Milošević, Berlusconi or Boris Johnson. The author defines demagoguery, reflects on its connections with populism, and examines the common features and differences in the demagogues' programs and language.
About the Author
Ivan T. Berend is Distinguished Research Professor at the History Department of the University of California Los Angeles.
"Published in a particularly turbulent year amid a global pandemic, renowned historian Ivan T. Berend's latest book comes as a cautionary text reminding readers how times of crisis can act as the breeding ground for populism and the emergence of demagogic leaders seeking to take advantage of popular anxieties and discontent for their own personal or political gain. A Century of Populist Demagogues explores the longstanding history of demagoguery and populism in Europe from the early twentieth century up to today by focusing on the lives of some of Europe's most notable demagogic figures of the last hundred years. By contextually presenting the circumstances which contributed to their rise to power (or popularity), engaging with these demagogues' ideas and own words, yet keeping account of their actions (or inaction) – this book offers an accessible, informative, and thought-provoking introduction for anyone interested in exploring the concept of populism and demagoguery and their manifestations in history and/or contemporary politics. It offers the reader much to think about, and it is an important addition to contemporary discussions surrounding leadership, democracy, and populism today."—Visegrad Insight
that persons, who are not being taken half-way seriously in the company of
cultivated intellectuals, can and regularly do enter the political scene?
Instead of being evicted, they gradually take over and dominate it. The
globally acclaimed author presents 18 major figures who have made a change in
the course of history and also left a lasting imprint on the profile of their
respective countries. The answer to "how come" is nuanced and the reading is
entertaining, a good buy for anyone interested in the topic.—László Csaba
"The author, a respected and renowned scholar, has written a somewhat unusual but highly interesting study with a novel approach to the role of what he calls "political demagogues" in modern history. Comparing very disparate demagogues, from different periods and in different national settings during the last hundred years, Berend shows convincingly the devastating consequences of what happens when they manage to seize power. An extremely useful book not only for students of contemporary history, but also for politicians, diplomats, and journalists."—Paul Lendvai, Hungarian-born Austrian author. His latest book is Orbán: Hungarys New Strongman (Oxford University Press).
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