Translated by Mary Byrd Kelly
In the present little volume, one can read a confrontation between two preeminent historians on one of the most serious subjects of our time, the history and meaning of the attack on liberal democracy by fascism and communism. The two authors debate their interpretations after having written extensively on the subject: Ernst Nolte (born in 1923), in a whole series of works centered on the evolution of European fascisms; and François Furet (1927–1997), an authority on the French Revolution, in his last book, Le Passé d'une illusion (1995; The Passing of an Illusion, 1999), devoted to the history of the communist ideal in the twentieth century. Finished just days before Furet's death, our small book can be considered his spiritual testament, and it constitutes one of Nolte's last important stands.
In reading this book, we are witnesses to something so rare that it demands our attention: a true dialogue.