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Modernity and the Holocaust
     

Modernity and the Holocaust

by Zygmunt Bauman
 

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A new afterword to this edition, "The Duty to Remember—But What?" tackles difficult issues of guilt and innocence on the individual and societal levels. Zygmunt Bauman explores the silences found in debates about the Holocaust, and asks what the historical facts of the Holocaust tell us about the hidden capacities of present-day life. He finds great danger in

Overview

A new afterword to this edition, "The Duty to Remember—But What?" tackles difficult issues of guilt and innocence on the individual and societal levels. Zygmunt Bauman explores the silences found in debates about the Holocaust, and asks what the historical facts of the Holocaust tell us about the hidden capacities of present-day life. He finds great danger in such phenomena as the seductiveness of martyrdom; going to extremes in the name of safety; the insidious effects of tragic memory; and efficient, "scientific" implementation of the death penalty. Bauman writes, "Once the problem of the guilt of the Holocaust perpetrators has been by and large settled . . . the one big remaining question is the innocence of all the rest—not the least the innocence of ourselves."

Among the conditions that made the mass extermination of the Holocaust possible, according to Bauman, the most decisive factor was modernity itself. Bauman's provocative interpretation counters the tendency to reduce the Holocaust to an episode in Jewish history, or to one that cannot be repeated in the West precisely because of the progressive triumph of modern civilization. He demonstrates, rather, that we must understand the events of the Holocaust as deeply rooted in the very nature of modern society and in the central categories of modern social thought.

About the Author:
Zygmunt Bauman is Emeritus Professor of Sociology at the University of Leeds. He is the author of Modernity and Ambivalence, also from Cornell, and Legislators and Interpreters.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A stunningly original set of reflections on racism, extermination, rationality, individual responsibility in criminal societies, and the sources of obedience and resistance."—Voice Literary Supplement

"Such is the concentrated brilliance of Modernity and the Holocaust that it is sure to find an appreciative audience in every field of research which touches on the Holocaust (or which has been touched by it). Above all, to those who still hold faith with the notions of civilization, progress, and reason, this book will sit alongside others which have challenged fundamental beliefs of our time."—Times Literary Supplement

"Intellectually rich and provocative. . . . This is a text which belongs in our classrooms as well as on our shelves. Exceptionally well written."—Contemporary Sociology

"A new afterword to this edition tackles difficult issues of guilt and innocence on the individual and societal levels."—Shofar, Summer 2001, Vol. 19, No. 4

"This book is an intense scrutiny of the lengths to which haters sink in displaying their hostility to targeted victims of that malady sometimes called xenophobia."—Rabbi Sam Silver. Indiana Jewish Post and Opinion. 8/22/01

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780745609300
Publisher:
Wiley
Publication date:
11/28/1991
Edition description:
New
Pages:
238
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.90(d)

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