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Postwar: A History of Europe Since 1945 Paperback – 3 Jun 2010

4.3 out of 5 stars 74 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 960 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (3 Jun. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 009954203X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099542032
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 4.3 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (74 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 24,291 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"Most impressive... Postwar, Tony Judt's magnificent history of Europe after The Second World War, covers vast tracts of ground with extraordinary skill, weaving together the stories of West and East in a single, compelling narrative" (Evening Standard, 'Books of the Year')

"Masterly and exhilarating... Judt has a fine eye for telling detail... This is a splendid book to which no review can do proper justice" (Geoffrey Wheatcroft Spectator)

"Truly superb - a magnificent achievement. It is hard to imagine how a better - and more readable - history of the emergence of today's Europe from the ashes of 1945 could ever be written; I can't think of another work on the latter half of the 20th century that comes close to matching it... All in all, a real masterpiece" (Ian Kershaw, author of Hitler)

"A superb work of synthesis, analysis and reflection" (Times Literary Supplement, 'Books of the Year')

"With Postwar... Judt moves up into the ranks of the grand simplificateurs. He dares to expound the sum total of Europe since 1945 in a seamless narrative... This is history-writing with a human face, as well as with brainpower... It is most unlikely that Judt's achievement will be superseded soon" (Guardian)

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.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: 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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Format: Paperback
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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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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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
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. In his book 'Postwar' Tony Judt describes in sometimes excruciating detail, the economic, social and political changes as well as the reasons for the changes in all the countries of Europe. The work is probably most valuable as a reference on subjects such as for example; the fall of communism, the effect of the transistor radio on 1960's youth, the impact of the EU. I could go on.

Judt sometimes writes difficult sentences and has a habit of using unusual words so that frequent references to a dictionary are required. A more annoying habit is the insertion of French phrases. Frustrating to non French speakers.

These are my only criticisms. The reader gains insight into how the modern world developed as well as the idea that we take much for granted. The Europe of today is truly miraculous when seen from the perspective of the devastation in 1945.
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