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on 27 June 2017
Brilliant read. Utterly engaging and expertly constructed. The references to the key debates about certain pieces of the historiography are most helpful for any newcomer to the period in question and the whole book is very readable throughout. I would argue it is as informative for the student as it is the casual reader. Packed with insightful research, i used it as a general hand-rail of the period allowing me to jump off and delve into some deeper research whenever i came across something that spiked my interest.
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on 23 May 2015
I bought this as a counterpoint tp Mazower. So pleased I did. A much better book, if less groundbreaking. In my opinion Judt dealt with his topics much better, and fleshed out his arguments so much better, and in a more rounded way. Anyone doing A327 at the Open University - this is a good book.
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on 20 January 2014
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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I see there are a lot of views expressed in the reviews here disagreeing with Judt's viewpoints on various issues. By and large I am happy with his views although at various points his emphases are different to mine.

What most interests me however is how this book covers certain key areas of European development which I have not previously had the opportunity of considering in such depth.

These are:

The extent of the devastation of almost all Europe and the necessary reconstruction, apparently accomplished with amazing speed after the war, and the enormous importance of cleverly designed Marshall Aid in achieving this;

The development of the Iron Curtain, the rapidly changing perceptions by the rest of the world of Stalin's intentions and activities, and in particular how this was experienced by the eastern European countries themselves. I had mostly been used to considering this from a western perspective.

The development of the Common Market, mostly at the instigation of the French, who just as they had after the First World War, wanted to protect themselves, but this time the muscle and strength was always and increasingly provided by Germany.

Prior to reading this book I didn't really understand quite how the EEC had worked, its parameters, its purpose and limitations.

Judt's views on later events were less revelatory to me because I had been there at the time, but his perspectives are always interesting.

Judt takes great care to consider the experience of many different countries, and as he does so I learned an enormous amount about the differences between say the Czech, the Polish, the Yugoslavian experience of being communist.

His epilogue is a consideration of the experience of the Jews after the war and I found this too especially valuable, and although he does not discuss the state of Israel, Judt helped me understand why the establishment of the Israeli state was so important.
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on 27 October 2013
Tony Judy describes his personal observation of modern Europe in this masterwork of modern history. At the start, you feel the pain and deprivation of the immediate postwar years; e.g. from the societal collapse in Germany and devastation of the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe to the economic malaise of postwar Britain to the booming optimism of the USA. He deftly describes the political conundrums of re-admitting a newly sovereign Federal Republic of Germany to a suspicious Europe. He gives us a picture of the mutual overtures between France and Germany that would form the basis for the modern EU. It is clear that without the influence of the USA, the Europe of today would simply not exist. The political and economic power of an America, always suspicious of alliances, was absolutely necessary to prevent French retribution against and/or a Soviet takeover of a defeated Germany or a return of neo-nazi rule. The postwar order was far from ideal, but as we see today, there was great wisdom in actions of the USA in precipitating the economic miracle in Western Europe.

Having not yet completed reading the book, I can't comment on the 1960s-2000s, but if Judt's description of the postwar and early cold war years are any indication, I will not be disappointed. This is a very personal history, so if you like a more detached writing style, then perhaps you may not like this book. Tony Judt explicitly states that this book contains many of his own bias and interpretations of events. I find that this adds considerably to the text and makes it eminently readable. I also think that since Tony Judt has lived on both sides of the Pond, it gives him a unique ability to write from both a European and an American perspective that will find wide appeal in the English speaking world. This book is for all those who want to understand the origins of the European Union, the history of the European Cold War and the love-hate relationship that exists between Europe and the USA, despite the fact that Europe and the USA are inextricably bound to each other and could quite be each others' salvation in the possible coming conflicts with Asia and a resurgent Russia.
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on 11 March 2013
Judt provides a comprehensive but penetrating account of postwar Europe. There is, however, a health warning: the print in this paper back version is minute, making it very difficult to read. Much better to buy the Kindle version, which can be read in comfort. It's almost worth buying a Kindle to read this outstanding history.
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on 14 January 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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on 4 July 2014
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 world. But just what were those effects? In this masterpiece of narration, historian Tony Judt takes the reader on a journey from the ashes of 1945 right up to the middle of the 1980′s that is both enthralling in its detail and brilliantly written. True, the author is at times quite-single minded in his views on certain topics, but one can hardly expect an author to remain entirely neutral throughout a work of this scope. That said, I had no trouble distinguishing fact from opinion.
What really captivated me about this book is the sheer scope of what is covered. Far from concentrating on the west, Judt takes us behind the iron curtain, providing a clear and vivid picture not only of events, but attitudes, mindset and the thinking behind much of the cold war and its effect on both sides of the divide.
In summary, of all the books I have read on this period, this one is by far the most comprehensive. It is also written in a way that is guaranteed to captivate the reader, something that cannot be claimed by all of its contemporaries. As for who should read it, I would recommend it to anyone with an interest in the state of modern Europe and the path which has led us to where we are today.
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on 14 August 2013
With one reservation, a really worthwhile analysis of the second half of the twentieth century. I'm not much concerned by the odd typo highlighted in one or two of the reviews: if all one can find to complain about in nearly 900 pages of densely-written text is the date of the fist Eurovision song context, then Professor Judt didn't do badly.

Inevitably, as one progresses from the distant past of the book (the 40s) and more into the realms of shared memory (the 90s), the scope for different interpretations of events grows exponentially. Put another way, his analysis of the initial period is masterful, his analysis of more recent events is sometimes a matter of opinion.

But what an opinion! I particularly like his ability, throughout the book, to spot patterns and movements. For Professor Judt history really isn't 'one thing after another', it's tectonic plates moving, and he is impressive in pointing them out. One example amongst many that springs to mind is the British tendency to see 20th century politics as a clash between Left and Right: which has left us bereft of a a paradigm for the twenty-first century, since the collapse of communism emptied that dream of any real meaning. It's better in the book.

If I have any complaint it is in the epilogue, on (he argues) the enduring place of the Holocaust in global thinking. The transition from historical analysis to straight opinionating is at its strongest here, and I felt uncomfortable that he could speak with such clarity and passion about the six million Jews who died, without so much as a mention of the other six million who died too. It's not just a matter of the numbers: if he can ignore half the people involved in a particular historic event, then one naturally asks how balanced his judgement is. That, for me, matters more than the date of Eurovision.
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on 23 November 2005
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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