Customer Review

63 of 63 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars impassioned, stimulating, thought-provoking, 14 Jan 2011
This review is from: Postwar: A History of Europe Since 1945 (Paperback)
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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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 1 Feb 2012 13:57:22 GMT
Chris Green says:
wholeheartedly agree. I' ve read Postwar 3 times and each time loved it. I don't share Judt's attachment to Social Democracy but that detracts not one bit from a brilliant read. for those of us who disagree with him in parts he will challenge you to the utmost in your thinking. But more than that this is a superb, well-written, well-researched book with some excellent insights into Postwar Europe. it's a must read for anyone with an interest in the period written by a man with masterly command of his subject matter
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