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Anne Applebaum / Twilight of Democracy: The Seductive Lure of Authoritarianism

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Berkeley Arts & Letters presents a virtual event with Pulitzer Prize-winning historian and journalist Anne Applebaum in conversation about her new book, Twilight of Democracy: The Seductive Lure of Authoritarianism.

Please note: This is a free event, but RSVP is required.

Across the world today, from the U.S. to Europe and beyond, liberal democracy is under siege while different forms of authoritarianism are on the rise. In Twilight of Democracy, prize-winning historian Anne Applebaum argues that we should not be surprised by this change: There is an inherent appeal to political systems with radically simple beliefs, especially when they benefit the loyal to the exclusion of everyone else.

People are not just ideological, she contends in this captivating extended essay; they are also practical, pragmatic, opportunist. The authoritarian and nationalist parties that have arisen within modern democracies offer new paths to wealth or power for their adherents. Describing politicians, journalists, intellectuals, and others who have abandoned democratic ideals in the UK, U.S., Spain, Poland, and Hungary, Applebaum reveals the patterns that link the new advocates of illiberalism and charts how they use conspiracy theory, political polarization, social media, and nostalgia to change their societies.

Anne Applebaum was one of the first journalists to raise the alarm about Russian interference in U.S. elections and antidemocratic trends in Europe. Her 2018 Atlantic article, "A Warning from Europe," inspired this book and was a finalist for a National Magazine Award. After seventeen years as a columnist at The Washington Post, she became a staff writer at The Atlantic in January 2020. She is the author of three critically acclaimed and award-winning histories of the Soviet Union: Red Famine, Iron Curtain, and Gulag, winner of the Pulitzer Prize.


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