FATHERS AND SONS treats Nihilism succinctly, far more than any other book I can think of. It makes the idea easy to understand through true to life characters that we can relate to. It is important because the ideas and methods of the most notorious Nihilists-Nechayev is taken very seriously by Al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations.
Bazarov who is the hero of the novel, is skeptical of people, institutions, ideas, and all the other trappings of civilization and does not hide his willingness to go about bringing down what he rejects.
Friedrich Nietzsche put forward an argument that the corrosive effects of Nihilism would eventually destroy all moral, religious, and metaphysical convictions and precipitate the greatest crisis in human history. Nihilistic themes such as epistemological failure, value destruction, and cosmic purposelessness--have preoccupied artists, social critics, and philosophers in the 20th century.
The fact that patterns of nihilism were indeed a conspicuous feature of collapsing civilizations, means it should be taken seriously. Its resurgence had an effect in the collapse of states, especially in Eastern Europe. Overall, this poetically written and entertaining classical novel deserves the highest of respects. In addition, The Union Moujik, classic Russian Stories like Crime and Punishment, A Hero of Our Times, are some of the recommended books to read that not only expose the depths of ideas, but also the effects of ideas on minds that are political.