A Truly Indispensable New Book. (Truly.)


Skidmore Professor of Government Flagg Taylor has just published a new book, The Great Lie, and it is, simply, magnificent.

Flagg has brought together in one volume three dozen essays on totatiltarianism in the twentieth century that prove profound, readable–and important.  Carl Friedrich’s 1954 essay, “The Unique Character of a Totalitarian Society.”  Vaclav Havel’s great 1978 work, “The Power of the Powerless.”  Eric Voegelin’s 1953 essay, “The Origins of Totalitarianism.”  Hannah Arendt’s 1954 study, “Ideology and Terror:  A Novel Form of Government.”  Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s 1975 work, “Our Muzzled Freedom.”

The Great Lie represents scholarship of the highest order:  Flagg has given us the benefit of his own wide reading, putting in a single volume what every American needs to know.  Nazism and Communism really were something new and distinctive in human history, yet at the same time they  represent horrors that could recur–anywhere.  As Solzhenitsyn says in a quotation that Flagg prints on the frontispiece:

There is always this fallacious belief:  “It would not be the same here; here such things are impossible.”  Alas, all the evil of the twentieth century is possible everywhere on earth.

If American academic institutions were truly intent on imparting to students the principal lessons of our civilization, then Flagg’s book would instantly appear on reading lists at colleges and universities throughout the country.  But if you’re unwilling to count on modern academia, take matters into your own hands:  Buy a few copies, then assign them to the students in your life yourself.

I get lots of books at my office–over the years, I’ve ended up on a lot of mailing lists at a lot of publishing houses.  This book counts.  And I’m all the happier to say so because, although here on Ricochet he goes by a pseudonym, Prof. Taylor is one of us.

There are 12 comments.

  1. Member

    Thanks for the review; will it be available on the Kindle soon, and will you try to interview Dr. Taylor on Uncommon Knowledge?

    • #1
    • September 22, 2011 at 1:19 am
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  2. Contributor

    The biggest lie of all is that Fascism and Communism are on opposite sides of the political spectrum when they are both really two sides of the same coin – a despotic oligarchy. Yes, fascists and communists fought each other. But that was really just a battle for power, not substantive ideology.

    It’s like the great Canadian blogger Kate McMillan says, what the left really wants is “Real democracy and a totalitarian party to vote for!”

    • #2
    • September 22, 2011 at 1:22 am
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  3. Member


    • #3
    • September 22, 2011 at 1:29 am
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  4. Member

    Double-post deleted. But I remain


    • #4
    • September 22, 2011 at 1:30 am
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  5. Founder
    Peter Robinson Post author
    Bill Walsh: Sold. · Sep 21 at 1:29pm

    You’re right to be sold, Bill. Although we have yet to meet I know enough from your posts to know that you’d revel in this work: history and scholarship, all irradiated with a sense of moral urgency.

    • #5
    • September 22, 2011 at 1:35 am
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  6. Contributor

    Wow. A book on one of my favorite topics to read and think about.

    I’m sold too.

    • #6
    • September 22, 2011 at 1:36 am
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  7. Inactive

    Talk about your heavy hitters. I can’t wait to read it. Thanks for the heads up.

    • #7
    • September 22, 2011 at 1:44 am
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  8. Contributor

    There is just enough room on the bookshelf in my cab, right next to WFB’s Miles Gone By. Professor Taylor will be in excellent company.

    • #8
    • September 22, 2011 at 1:50 am
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  9. Inactive

    A new #1 in my Amazon queue. Thanks Peter.

    • #9
    • September 22, 2011 at 3:35 am
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  10. Inactive

    Damn good idea for a book. Most timely. Appears to be a must read particularly following Steyn’s After America. Include me in.

    • #10
    • September 22, 2011 at 7:26 am
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  11. Coolidge

    Hmmm, so which pseudonym does Dr. Taylor use??? Sneaky, sneaky…

    • #11
    • September 22, 2011 at 8:41 am
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  12. Member
    Illiniguy: Thanks for the review; will it be available on the Kindle soon, and will you try to interview Dr. Taylor on Uncommon Knowledge? · Sep 21 at 1:19pm

    Not sure yet about a Kindle/e-book edition. There are some issues surrounding permission rights that need to be worked out.

    • #12
    • September 22, 2011 at 11:29 am
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