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The Light that Failed


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A landmark book that completely transforms our understanding of the crisis of liberalism from two pre-eminent intellectuals.

About the Author

Ivan Krastev is a fellow at the Institute for Human Sciences in Vienna, a contributing opinion writer for the International New York Times and, most recently, the author of the widely acclaimed After Europe.

Stephen Holmes is Professor of Law at NYU School of Law and the author of many books on liberalism.


A brilliant, original book on the crisis of modern liberalism ... a must read to understand our present discontents -- Lionel Barber * Financial Times Books of the Year *
A brilliant explanation of the mess we are in now ... written with wonderfully dry wit * Evening Standard Books of the Year *
If you read one book to understand the state of the world today, make it this one. Aphoristic, counter-intuitive and amusing, a single page provides more insight into populism than libraries of books on Brexit or Trump. . . Extraordinary and compelling. . . Its subject matter is bleak but the deep learning, humour and humanity of its authors shines through -- Mark Leonard * Prospect *
An important book that fizzes with ideas. . . There is a smart insight or elegant paradox on almost every page. . . This book poses in stark terms the dilemma for those who took for granted the ideas that created the postwar western world * The Sunday Times *
Justly acclaimed -- Gideon Rachman * Financial Times Books of the Year *
Sharp, polemical and ideas-packed * Economist *
Compelling and witty * Prospect Books of the Year *
An unflinchingly honest explanation of what has gone wrong in the west - and the east - since 1989 * Financial Times *
Witty, incisive, devastating: an unforgettable analysis of why the light of liberalism failed in Eastern Europe, and why resentment towards imitation of the West has fueled the furies of the populist revolt -- Michael Ignatieff, President of Central European University, Budapest
This is a book about imitation by a couple of utterly inimitable authors. It is the most original explanation I've read of the self-destruction of the liberal West as universal utopia. Its analysis is rooted in an unparalleled understanding of the resentment fuelled revolt (and revolting resentment) of political elites who sought to ape the West, and ended up loathing it for that very reason. Scathing yet fair -- Peter Pomerantsev, author of Nothing Is True and Everything Is Possible
A bracing analysis of post-Cold War politics, upending cherished assumptions and forcing us to look afresh at the complex dialectic of liberalism and illiberalism -- George Soros
This is a book about copying that makes an original argument. In doing so, it reminds us that liberal democracy depends not on mechanical processes but on human originality -- Timothy Snyder
Krastev is always what the English call good value, and his perspective here on the differences between the parodic Russian response to our newly victorious West and the "imitation" of Eastern Europe is devious, plausible, and amusing -- Michael Hofmann * Paris Review *

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