Thinking the Twentieth Century Paperback – 7 Feb 2013
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"Timothy Snyder's initiative has prompted a sparkling dialogue which, through following the stages of Tony Judt's life and emergence as an exceptional historian, offers important reflections on major currents of political thinking in the 20th century" (Ian Kershaw)
"There is much brilliance here to enjoy ... The best kind of book" (David Aaronovitch The Times)
"Brilliant to the bitter end...Tony Judt was combative and razor-sharp even as he was dying...A moving, enlightening and provocative read...It is impossible not to marvel at the dying man's extraordinary mental recall and moral integrity ... This book, bristling with learning, is a staggering achievement" (Dominic Sandbrook Sunday Times)
"Thinking the Twentieth Century is a substantial achievement" (Tony Barber Financial Times)
"Brilliantly eloquent" (Neil Ascherson Guardian)
The final masterpiece by one of the leading historians and thinkers of his generation, the late Tony Judt.
Thinking the Twentieth Century unites the conflicted intellectual history of an epoch into a soaring narrative.
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Top Customer Reviews
Starting off in a working class family, Judt outlines how he got into Cambridge, entering an intellectual elite that he never left. It was a combination of brains and extremely hard work, plus a bit of luck in the teachers who encouraged him. He laments that the path that led him to Cambridge is rapidly vanishing as the power of money and privilege is renewing itself as he was writing.
As I see it, there are 3 large issues that he attacked during his career. First, there was the French intellectual tradition, starting in about the 1930s and up to the 1980s. That was the era of Sartre, Camus, and Aron, men that I studied as a student in Paris. Though I have long since left them behind, it was an absolute delight to get his read on them, a journey that I made in a far less scholarly way than he. Second, starting as a young Zionist, he recapitulates his long journey from ardent Kibbutzim to the disillusioned critic, who saw Israel as a colonial power of questionable legitimacy. Agree with him or not, the case he makes - based on personal experience as a participant in the 1967 war that transformed Israel from a defensive power to an aggressively militaristic one - deserves consideration. Third, he covered the communist idea, from its origins in the 19C up to its end and the aftermath in Eastern Europe.Read more ›
Tony Judt is a graceful, erudite author. His writing is informed by his English education, he read French history at King's College, Cambridge, his French education at Ecole Normal Superieure, and his Eastern European Jewishness; though born in London, his grandparents were Polish Jews. But I have to clarify that though informed by the preceding still his writing transcends them and acquires a genuine universality. The book bears similarity with'The Memory Chalet' in their autobiographical dimension but similarities end there with the present book the distinctly more consummate work.
The book is a spoken book. The author was afflicted in 2008 with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a degenerative neurological disorder that brings progressive paralysis and certain and usually rapid death. Only his brain remained intact and retained its crystalline clarity.
The book began at the prompting of Timothy Snyder, a Yale historian, twenty - one years junior than the author and with complementary expertise. Though born in the United States, Timothy Snyder went to Oxford and undertook a doctorate in Polish history - he acquired facility in the languages of East - Central Europe and familiarity with the country and the history of the region. The book has a gratifyingly rich presence of East European intellectuals and historians.Read more ›
Overwhelmingly, it is a book about ideas and their influence. Almost every page contains new insights into some of the most written-about events in history. (My only reservation is that the book presupposes that the reader is familiar not only with events but the ideas of figures such as Hayek, and Koestler.) That such a book was produced by a man gravely ill with a degenerative disease is a triumph of the human spirit.
Each of the 9 chapters has a biographical and historical component moving through Judt's life and across important loci in 20th century thought: the Holocaust,Zionism,French universalism,the allure of Marxism,fascism and anti-fascism,,liberalism as ethics in Eastern Europe,and social planning in Europe and the United States.Judt was an American by choice and by citizenship,though born in England in 1948.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A fascinating read. Judt and Snyder have something to say about everything that matters in the modern world and show why our understanding of history is so important. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Barbouze
If one test of a great book is one's inability to put the thing down, then Judt's deserves to be called great. Read morePublished 18 months ago by Mr. G. Morgan
Fantastic read and quite an educative and intellectual read. It enlightens the mind on the 20th century like no other book I have read so far on the subject.Published 19 months ago by Mr J.A ADENIYI C/0 MRS A.OYEMADE
I got this book from the library never having heard of Tony Judt [now deceased]. Wow what a revelation about what has been going on over the last 100 years. Read morePublished on 30 Sept. 2013 by D. Brown
We historians and intellectuals in general have been long familiar with Judt's ideas and thoughts about teh 20th century, and I like most of all what he has written avout... Read morePublished on 28 April 2013 by M. F. Bonifacio
An idea put forward in this book is that even when historians are dealing with material with which readers are unfamiliar, the latter can detect a level of plausibility, or its... Read morePublished on 18 Mar. 2013 by Rainborough
I am a big fan of the late Tony Judts work and have all his previous books. Unfortunately this collection was dictated to another writer, and this shows. Read morePublished on 11 Mar. 2013 by p sommerville
Well what else could you call a book that offers the view that the century in question really began in 1914 with the advent of the first world war, and ended in 1989 with the... Read morePublished on 4 July 2012 by George
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