presenting Surviving Autocracy in conversation with JOSHUA RUBENSTEIN
Harvard Book Store’s virtual event series welcomes celebrated author, journalist, and activist MASHA GESSEN—author of the National Book Award–winning The Future Is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia—for a discussion of their latest book, Surviving Autocracy.They will be joined in conversation by JOSHUA RUBENSTEIN, associate, Harvard University’s Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies and author of The Last Days of Stalin.
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About Surviving Autocracy
In the run-up to the 2016 election, Masha Gessen stood out from other journalists for the ability to convey the ominous significance of Donald Trump’s speech and behavior, unprecedented in a national candidate. Within forty-eight hours of his victory, the essay “Autocracy: Rules for Survival” had gone viral, and Gessen’s coverage of his norm-smashing presidency became essential reading for a citizenry struggling to wrap their heads around the unimaginable.
Thanks to the special perspective that is the legacy of a Soviet childhood and two decades covering the resurgence of totalitarianism in Russia, Gessen has a sixth sense for signs of autocracy—and the unique cross-cultural fluency to delineate its emergence to Americans. This incisive book provides an indispensable overview of the calamitous trajectory of the past few years. Gessen not only highlights the corrosion of the media, the judiciary, and the cultural norms we hoped would save us but also tells us the story of how a short few years have changed us, from a people who saw ourselves as a nation of immigrants to a populace haggling over a border wall, heirs to a degraded sense of truth, meaning, and possibility. Surviving Autocracy is an inventory of ravages but also a beacon to recovery—or to enduring, and resisting, an ongoing assault.
Praise for Surviving Autocracy
“The Platonic ideal of the anti-Trump Trump book. . . . Offers discomfort and reassurance at once. . . . perfectly capturing the cognitive dissonance of life in Trump’s America.” —The Washington Post
“Gessen brings to all work a unique blend of intellect and manifold passions . . . [flashing] the fierce attitude and language of the partisan activist in one moment, returning to the cooler mien of a public intellectual the next.” —NPR
“Urgent . . . Gessen’s credentials as an observer of autocracy are impeccable. . . . Surviving Autocracy sharpens an edge of disgust lately blunted by relentless use.” —The New York Review of Books