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F. Flagg Taylor’s The Great Lie: Classic and Recent Appraisals of Ideology and Totalitarianism is now out. I got my copy yesterday (Flagg’s a good friend and colleague) and the afternoon was shot. One brilliant essay after another: Aron, Havel, Milosz, Strauss, Solzhenitsyn, Arendt . . . are just a few of the major luminaries, and there’s also a handful of essays by lesser-known writers.

The one that grabbed me was “The Hair Styles of Mieczyslaw Rakowski,” by Leopold Tyrmand, about the way this communist official’s personal appearance changed from era to era, often quite subtly, the better to fit the most-winning image for a party official at the particular time. So the regime’s changes and character are actually reflected in his hair-style!

That essay illustrates the literary character of a number of the pieces, although obviously it also stands as a book of philosophy and sociology. There’s really everything a pomocon could want!

More to come on this . . .

More on: Totalitarianism

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