Publishers Weekly – review

In a book composed of two timely and lengthy essays, “The Eternal Return of Fascism” and “The Return of Europa,” Riemen draws on works of great thinkers to issue a ringing humanist appeal for a return to Enlightenment values. He posits this restoration as the cure for resurgent fascism, defined as “the political cultivation of our worst irrational sentiments: resentment, hatred, xenophobia, lust for power, and fear!” Among others, he cites Marcel Camus, Thomas Mann, Friedrich Nietzsche, and Baruch Spinoza. Riemen’s enthusiasm for those whom Paul Valéry calls the “irreplaceable intellectuals” of the past is, at times, stronger than his analysis of contemporary political reality. For instance, his citation of Mann’s critique of younger people as “collectivist” but politically apathetic doesn’t square with the experience of Trump-era America. Riemen’s insights into how fascism manifests in different societies, though, are piercing. Notably, he echoes Mann in arguing that xenophobia will become more prevalent in America “in the name of freedom.” His erudite essays add an enriching element to the ongoing conversation of a contentious political moment. (Jan.)