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Zizek (international director, Birkbeck Inst. for the Humanities, Univ. of London; sociology, Univ. of Ljubljana, Slovenia; The Fragile Absolute) writes with humor and incisiveness as he addresses the limits of liberal democratic approaches to politics and the possibility of benefit in totalitarian approaches to statehood. Examining by turns errors made by Martin Heidegger, Michel Foucault, Maximilien Robespierre, and other thinkers when faced with totalitarian missions, Zizek provides analysis by way of Jacques Lacan, literary deconstruction, and history's famously particular moments, such as the denouement of the the Cuban Missile Crisis. Scholars of political theory and modern philosophy will find much here to consider and argue for or against. In parts, the essays can also be used with upper-division undergraduate students. And because Zizek's work straddles the most contemporary 20th-century literature and history and is written with panache rather than in jargon, public libraries serving highly educated communities will want to add this as well.