This event is presented in partnership with BroadwaySF at the Golden Gate Theater.
Each ticket includes a copy of Prequel: An American Fight Against Fascism.
BroadwaySF and Book Passage welcome you to an extraordinary on-stage event with Emmy Award–winning host and #1 New York Times-bestselling author Rachel Maddow. Delve into the world of current events, politics, and insightful analysis as Maddow takes the stage to share her unique perspectives, answer audience questions, and speak about her new book PREQUEL. Inspired by the research for her #1 Apple podcast, Rachel Maddow Presents: Ultra, from MSNBC, PREQUEL traces the rise of a radical strain of authoritarianism that has been alive and well in America for the better part of a century. As we navigate through our own disquieting times, PREQUEL offers a roadmap from U.S. history, marked both with heroics to emulate and traps and pitfalls to avoid.
Rachel Maddow traces the fight to preserve American democracy back to World War II, when a handful of committed public servants and brave private citizens thwarted far-right plotters trying to steer our nation toward an alliance with the Nazis.
Inspired by her research for the hit podcast Ultra, Rachel Maddow charts the rise of a wild American strain of authoritarianism that has been alive on the far-right edge of our politics for the better part of a century. Before and even after our troops had begun fighting abroad in World War II, a clandestine network flooded the country with disinformation aimed at sapping the strength of the U.S. war effort and persuading Americans that our natural alliance was with the Axis, not against it. It was a sophisticated and shockingly well-funded campaign to undermine democratic institutions, promote antisemitism, and destroy citizens’ confidence in their elected leaders, with the ultimate goal of overthrowing the U.S. government and installing authoritarian rule.
That effort worked—tongue and groove—alongside an ultra-right paramilitary movement that stockpiled bombs and weapons and trained for mass murder and violent insurrection.
At the same time, a handful of extraordinary activists and journalists were tracking the scheme, exposing it even as it was unfolding. In 1941 the U.S. Department of Justice finally made a frontal attack, identifying the key plotters, finding their backers, and prosecuting dozens in federal court.
None of it went as planned.
While the scheme has been remembered in history—if at all—as the work of fringe players, in reality it involved a large number of some of the country’s most influential elected officials. Their interference in law enforcement efforts against the plot is a dark story of the rule of law bending and then breaking under the weight of political intimidation.
That failure of the legal system had consequences. The tentacles of that unslain beast have reached forward into our history for decades. But the heroic efforts of the activists, journalists, prosecutors, and regular citizens who sought to expose the insurrectionists also make for a deeply resonant, deeply relevant tale in our own disquieting times.
Rachel Maddow is host of the Emmy Award–winning Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC, as well as the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Drift and Blowout, and the New York Times bestselling co-author of Bag Man. Maddow received a bachelor’s degree in public policy from Stanford University and earned her doctorate in political science at Oxford University. She lives in New York City and Massachusetts with her partner, artist Susan Mikula.
Michael McFaul is the Director at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, the Ken Olivier and Angela Nomellini Professor of International Studies in the Department of Political Science, and the Peter and Helen Bing Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution. He joined the Stanford faculty in 1995.
Dr. McFaul also is an International Affairs Analyst for NBC News and a columnist for The Washington Post. He served for five years in the Obama administration, first as Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Russian and Eurasian Affairs at the National Security Council at the White House (2009-2012), and then as U.S. Ambassador to the Russian Federation (2012- 2014).
He has authored several books, most recently the New York Times bestseller From Cold War to Hot Peace: An American Ambassador in Putin’s Russia. Earlier books include Advancing Democracy Abroad: Why We Should, How We Can; Transitions To Democracy: A Comparative Perspective (eds. with Kathryn Stoner); Power and Purpose: American Policy toward Russia after the Cold War (with James Goldgeier); and Russia’s Unfinished Revolution: Political Change from Gorbachev to Putin. He is currently writing a book called Autocrats versus Democrats: Lessons from the Cold War for Competing with China and Russia Today.
His teaches courses on great power relations, democratization, comparative foreign policy decision-making, and revolutions.
Dr. McFaul was born and raised in Montana. He received his B.A. in International Relations and Slavic Languages and his M.A. in Soviet and East European Studies from Stanford University in 1986. As a Rhodes Scholar, he completed his D. Phil. In International Relations at Oxford University in 1991. His D. Phil thesis was Southern African Liberation and Great Power Intervention: Towards a Theory of Revolution in an International Context.
Rachel Maddow - photo courtesy of NBCUniversal Media LLC™ ; Michael McFaul - photo courtesy of the publicist