In this collection of essays written over a period of almost forty years, Raymond Aron explores the rise of nationalism in Europe through the two world wars and the subsequent disintegration of her empires. With a richness of detail and sweeping breadth of historical examples, he chronicles and analyzes the history of the opposite ideological extremes of Fascism and Marxism and their descent into totalitarianism via secular religiosity. Aron also examines French imperialism through the examples of Algeria and Indochina, as well as America’s role as an “imperial republic” during and after World War II. Aron was never orthodox in his ideology; neither his republican political penchants nor his dialectical intellectual orientation ever gained the upper hand over his devotion to empirical reality. The result here is an intellectual history that seems less concerned about where it falls on the political spectrum than about getting it right.
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