Top critical review
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Events, dear boy, events!
on 29 August 2016
This is a book which needs dedication and stamina. It is very long and the print is very small (as many have complained). However, it does a pretty good job of surveying a whole continent and six decades. Not much is left out and some of the explanations are very clear, giving sufficient, but not too much detail. Thus, the Balkan wars that followed the collapse of Yugoslavia are described in a way that is as clear as you might hope for.
The book loses its way a bit in the 1950s where the author gets obsessed with statistics on consumerism. If you want to know how many fridges and tellies there were in Italy all through the 40s, 50s and 60s, this is your book. He is also very patronising of all cultural and social movements, regarding the 60's movements as children's' games. Apparently, the Beatles only made one decent album! So, in the end you learn to separate the factual material from Judt's personal preferences and convictions.
Most of the critical reviewers have concentrated on a lack of objectivity and balance. This is fair comment as it is very clear that the author warms to certain themes more than others. He was (now deceased) an ex-communist and Jewish. This leads to a bias to relating almost every significant event in Europe to communism or anti-Semitism. In fact there is a final chapter which states that the history and development of all European countries should be seen against the yardstick of their attitude to the holocaust. In the end the book comes over as thorough, well written and comprehensive, but a bit spoiled by too many opinions, which the reader may not share.