Madeleine Albright Unveils Personal Report on Fascism

The auditorium was swarming as supporters swiftly filled in the rows, anxiously awaiting to hear her speak. It was a rainy Thursday night in Back Bay, but that did not discourage Albright’s eager admirers.

On April 12, Harvard Book Store sponsored and hosted Albright’s most recent book release: Fascism: A Warning, a personal account of the history and resurgence of fascism today, and the danger it imposes on international freedom and peace.  

The evening began with an introduction of the abundant accomplishments Albright has achieved during her years in public service. Albright is a professor, author, diplomat, and businesswoman. She was the 64th Secretary of State, the first woman to ever serve in the position, and, at the time, the highest-ranking woman in the history of the U.S. government. She is a professor of diplomacy at Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service (SFS), serves on numerous foundation boards, and leads business ventures. In 2012, she received the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Albright is the author of five previous New York Times’ best sellers. Fascism: A Warning argues that although the fight against fascism was the defining struggle of the 20th century, we remain in danger of falling under its sway.

In a recent opinions piece in the New York Times, Albright writes “we may be encouraged that most people in most countries still want to live freely and in peace, but there is no ignoring the storm clouds that have gathered.”

Meeting in the Back Bay Events Center in Downtown Boston was particularly special for Albright: It was her first week on tour since turning 80 years old and she was just a few miles away from Wellesley College, from which she graduated in 1959.

“I wanted to spend a lot of time on tour in bookstores, and with bookstores, because the purpose of my book is to warn against fascism and there’s no better place to begin a campaign against fascism then in a bookstore,” Albright said. “This is where we all come to celebrate the free expression of ideas and nothing makes dictators more uncomfortable.”

Albright was inspired to write this book for reasons beyond her experience as a politician.

“For me, fascism isn’t just an academic theory,” Albright said. “It had a major effect and impact in my life.”

Born in 1937 in pre-World War II Czechoslovakia, she was forced by the Nazis to flee with her family to London. After the war, the communists drove her and her family out of Czechoslovakia again—they moved to the United States in 1948.

As chairman of the National Democratic Institute, she is constantly involved with the struggle and tension between democracy and dictatorship.

“I lived it and I know what the stakes are,” Albright said.

Fascism: A Warning is a product of Albright’s personal experiences as a child growing up in Czechoslovakia and as an active politician engaged with these matters on a day to day basis.

Yet, although those childhood memories may serve as the backdrop for the book, Albright isn’t letting her recent birthday prevent her from participating as much as she can in international discourses she is one of the foremost experts in. Rather, her late entry into government fuels her desire as involved as she can be in all of her business and policy interests—despite her age.

“Because I didn’t enter public service on a high level until I was 55 years old, it took me quite some time to find my voice—and I’m not going to be quiet now,” Albright said.

Featured Images by Jenna Rosenthal / For The Heights