The Great Lie - Intercollegiate Studies Institute

The Great Lie

Classic and Recent Appraisals of Ideology and Totalitarianism


“A truly indispensable new book. (Truly.)” —Peter Robinson, Ricochet

The Great Lie allows readers to make sense of political evil and how it can attract so many people into its ideological fold.

“Richly rewarding and surprisingly accessible.”Dave Eggers


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The most insightful and profound reflections on totalitarian tyranny

Totalitarianism was the dominant phenomenon of the twentieth century. Deeply troubling questions endure regarding the nature of such tyrannical regimes: What enabled human beings to carry out such horrific crimes against their fellow man? What does the endurance of Communism reveal about human liberty? Why did human beings suffer rule by ideological lies for so long, and what kept them open to the truth? What are we to make of the relationship between totalitarianism and the foundational principles of democratic modernity?

Some of the greatest minds of the twentieth century sought answers to these haunting questions. Now, for the first time ever, their incisive and profound reflections on totalitarianism have been brought together in one book. The Great Lie showcases the insights of such giants as Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Václav Havel, Hannah Arendt, Eric Voegelin, Czeslaw Milosz, Leo Strauss, and Raymond Aron, along with neglected but important thinkers such as Waldemar Gurian, Aurel Kolnai, Leszek Kolakowski, Pierre Manent, Claude Lefort, and Chantal Delsol. The brilliant essays in this volume illuminate the very nature of totalitarian regimes, and the monstrous ideology that is their defining feature.

The Great Lie allows readers to make sense of political evil and how it can attract so many people into its ideological fold. This is not a matter of mere academic interest.

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“A truly indispensable new book. (Truly.) . . . Simply magnificent. 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.” —Peter Robinson, Ricochet

“The book collects essays by a wide range of writers who lived under tyranny, and the results are richly rewarding and surprisingly accessible.” —Dave Eggers

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