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Postwar: A History of Europe Since 1945 [Hardcover]

Tony Judt
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (53 customer reviews)

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Postwar: A History of Europe Since 1945 Postwar: A History of Europe Since 1945 4.2 out of 5 stars (53)
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Book Description

6 Oct 2005
Europe in 1945 was prostrate. Much of the continent was devastated by war, mass slaughter, bombing and chaos. Large areas of Eastern Europe were falling under Soviet control, exchanging one despotism for another. Today, the Soviet Union is no more and the democracies of the European Union reach as far as the borders of Russia itself. "Postwar" tells the rich and complex story of how we got from there to here. It tells of Europe's recovery from the devastation; of the decline and fall of Soviet Communism and the rise of the EC and EU; of the end of Europe's empires; and of Europe's uneasy and changing relationships with the memory of the war and with the two great powers that bracket it, Russian and America. With clarity and economy, he tells of developments across the continent as a whole, as well as of the contrasting experiences of Eastern and Western Europe. Along the way, we learn of Greece's Civil War, of Scandinavian social democracy, the stresses of multilingual Belgium, the struggles of Northern Ireland and the Basque country. And this is a history of people as well as of peoples, Churchill and Mitterand, General Franco and General Jaruzelski, Silvio Berlusconi and Joseph Stalin. And "Postwar" also has cultural and social histories to tell: of French and Czech cinema, of the rise of the fridge and the decline of the public intellectual, of immigration and gastarbeiters, existentialism and punk rock, Monty Python and brutalist architecture. Running right up to the Iraq War and the election of Benedict XVI, "Postwar" makes sense of Europe's recent history and identity, of what Europe is and has been, in what can only be described as a masterpiece: Europe in our time.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 878 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Press; 1st Edition edition (6 Oct 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594200653
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594200656
  • Product Dimensions: 24.2 x 16.3 x 4.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (53 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 835,664 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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'With an eye for the telling statistic... lucid, comprehensive'
-- Irish Times - Rev'd Tim Fanning --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Book Description

A magisterial and acclaimed history of Europe in our time, by one of our leading historians, shortlisted for the Pulitzer and Samuel Johnson Prizes. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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I first decided to write this book while changing trains at the Westbahnhof, Vienna's main railway terminus. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
63 of 63 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars impassioned, stimulating, thought-provoking 14 Jan 2011
I was motivated to write this review by looking at the average rating and seeing only three and a half stars; that is absurdly low for a book that is already becoming a classic. Don't be put off by the negative reviews on here which are mainly written by people with specific hobby horses or concerned about a few insignificant factual errors - but those are inevitable in a work with such breathtaking scope. If the most serious error in a book that covers the contemporary history of the whole continent is about the date of the first eurovision song contest, then that tells you that Judt gets a lot of things right.

Those who write that the first chapters are the strongest are more on the money (but then, name me a historian who can analyse the present as well as s/he can the past). And those opening chapters are simply awesome. If you don't learn to look at the second world war and its legacy in a new light, if you don't think again about the rebuilding of Europe, about the implementation of Stalinism in eastern europe and the attitudes of western intellectuals, or how the intellectual and cultural movements of western europe in the 60s and 70s interacted with the times they sprang from, then you are probably already an excellent historian in your own right and I would like to read your books as well.

You might not agree with all of his conclusions, but the fact that the book is so (in his word) opinionated is a good thing - it challenges you to work out what you yourself think and why. It avoids repeating the received wisdom, and challenges it on a great many subjects. It demands that you engage with a lot of still-live topics (cumulateively, the book adds up to a powerful argument in favour of rational social democracy). It makes cogs turn in your mind. You thought you had a picture of postwar europe in your mind's eye - Judt shows you that it was only a thumbnail. There is a lot to discover, and to contemplate.
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48 of 51 people found the following review helpful
This is a huge piece of work. It took me more than two years to finish the entire book, and I took long breaks resting from it. Nevertheless, it was worth the effort. This volume is now one of the most important works in my collection of history books.
Three things impressed me in "Postwar".
1. English. In the globalized world where everybody seems to speak English it is quite easy to loose good taste for language, especially in the academic literature. We read books on history and science without any expectations of their language having the richness of a fictional literary work. Tony Judt certainly breaks this rule - he writes in a beautiful language, cleverly formulated sentences, and carefully constructed paragraphs. One often forgets one is reading a book on history. Thus, it was a huge pleasure to read "Postwar".
2. Broadness. The depth and broadness of topics covered is impressive. Each country, small and big, each important aspect of social life, is covered. For people mostly familiar with the history of their own country, like myself, this book will provide a lot of valuable information and a lot of insight about what was happening in other countries in Europe after 1945. Whether you would like to know about national conflicts in Belgium or the origins of the Hungarian revolution, this book is the book to look at, at least to get the most important information.
3. Objectivity. I am very pleased with the objectivity of the book. In my opinion, Tony Judt does not take any initial opinion on a subject described. The reader is left with sufficient information to have his/her own judgement on each of the topics. In this regard the present book is a pleasant exception.

In summary: a huge work, both in terms of size and in terms of quality. Highly recommended.
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73 of 81 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Europe's Guilt 23 Nov 2005
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Tony Judt's book is a lively and contentious narrative of Postwar Europe from the effects of WW2 right up to the removal of the last statue of Franco in Madrid on March 17th 2005. The key European events covered in detail: Cold War, formation of the European Union, collapse of Communism, war in the Balkans. Weaved through this is a commanding sense of social and political history from a liberal/left perspective.
It is particular strong on film [and TV] which is used to underscore political and social narratives, with plenty of illustrations from memoirs and satire. The grand theme is Europe's collective guilt over the Holocaust and how the different countries have denied, then acknowledged (or not) their roles. This theme is defining for Judt and it will continue to define Europe's collective persona for future generations. On this latter issue Judt's arguments are well illustrated with examples from literature and Europe's intellectuals - both largely ignored by the politicians.
Europe's future will be tested by whether or not it grow towards something more than just a grand market place for the exchange of goods and services.
My only regret is the lack of a thematic bibliography - bibliographical references are within the text at the bottom of the page only.
This is a big read at 830 pages - but it is engrossing
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars i can see 30 Aug 2010
The author opinion is transparent throughout every page and is the opinion of a person who has assessed thoroughly his thought with the search of facts; it also comes out as a text who has been assessed after discussions with scholars. The inner background, felt by the author, is perceivable (his religion origin, his political inclination) and some perspective is not objective, but when this happens it is well declared; this may sound as a drawback, however he is able to turn this as a powerful tool which makes the text an essential recount of this time that Europe went through. The text, finally is very enjoyable. Sometimes European history looked to me as a grey and bland epoch: it turns out as a exciting period that must be learned. I can finally understand many whys and other secret stories.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars and I was told it is great. But the writting of this edition it is ...
I have not read the book, and I was told it is great. But the writting of this edition it is so tiny that you need magnifying glass.
Very sad. Read more
Published 1 day ago by jose
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Arrived on time and as described.
Published 16 days ago by Zvi Feler
4.0 out of 5 stars A good and very detailed book
A good and very detailed book.
Primarily for elderly and particularly attentive readers who are familiar with the post-war period. Read more
Published 20 days ago by Hanspeter Bornhauser
5.0 out of 5 stars historian Tony Judt takes the reader on a journey from the ashes of...
A lot has been written about Europe between 1939 and 1945. Indeed, a lot went on in those years that would have a profound effect on the future of the European continent, and the... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Nathaniel Dean James
4.0 out of 5 stars Highly informative, balanced and well written.
Very helpful if trying to make sense of the EU project. Covers a very wide range and enables a better understanding of how diverse Europe is.
Published 3 months ago by Donal O'Brien
5.0 out of 5 stars A treat from beginning to end
My only criticism was that it has too many statistics in the text: fewer would have painted the picture of the destruction of Europe in the second world war. Fantastic
Published 4 months ago by rob
5.0 out of 5 stars In a Class of its Own!
A lot has been written about Europe between 1939 and 1945. Indeed, a lot went on in those years that would have a profound effect on the future of the European continent, and the... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant (with a small caveat)
If you buy just one history of postwar Europe this is the one to have. Judt has the knack of explaining complex affairs in a clear and simple manner. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Mr. Christopher Harris
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
As has been pointed out by others more qualified than me, this really is the definitive history of post-war Europe : thoughtful comments on the foundations and early years of the... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Ian R. Mccolm
4.0 out of 5 stars Probably the most comprehensive work and commentary on Europe's growth...
This is no easy read. To be frank, I started reading on Kindle last August and I am 80% through. It is a massive piece of work. Read more
Published 8 months ago by George
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