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Postwar: A History of Europe Since 1945
     

Postwar: A History of Europe Since 1945

4.0 5
by Tony Judt
 

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Tony Judt's Postwar makes one lament the overuse of the word "groundbreaking." It is an unprecedented accomplishment: the first truly European history of contemporary Europe, from Lisbon to Leningrad, based on research in six languages, covering thirty-four countries across sixty years in a single integrated narrative, using a great deal of material from newly

Overview

Tony Judt's Postwar makes one lament the overuse of the word "groundbreaking." It is an unprecedented accomplishment: the first truly European history of contemporary Europe, from Lisbon to Leningrad, based on research in six languages, covering thirty-four countries across sixty years in a single integrated narrative, using a great deal of material from newly available sources. Tony Judt has drawn on forty years of reading and writing about modern Europe to create a fully rounded, deep account of the continent's recent past. The book integrates international relations, domestic politics, ideas, social change, economic development, and culture--high and low--into a single grand narrative. Every country has its chance to play the lead, and although the big themes are superbly handled--including the cold war, the love/hate relationship with America, cultural and economic malaise and rebirth, and the myth and reality of unification--none of them is allowed to overshadow the rich pageant that is the whole. Vividly and clearly written for the general reader; witty, opinionated, and full of fresh and surprising stories and asides; visually rich and rewarding, with useful and provocative maps, photos, and cartoons throughout, Postwar is a movable feast for lovers of history and lovers of Europe alike.

A magnificent history of postwar Europe, East and West, by arguably the subject's most esteemed historian.

Editorial Reviews

David P. Calleo
Judt, a New York University historian, has an admirable range of interests and competence. He is, for a start, a fine social historian; he has thought seriously about Europe's demographic patterns and their likely economic and social consequences; he clearly loves and studies the movies and popular music; and he is very much a historian of ideas. Although he regularly professes not to take the world of Parisian intellectuals very seriously, he himself seems an splendid product of that milieu, as might be expected from a graduate of France's cole Normale Suprieure.
— The Washington Post
Anthony Gottlieb
As Judt movingly draws it, the picture of Europe at the end of World War II is pitiful almost beyond bearing. Some 36.5 million Europeans are reckoned to have died between 1939 and 1945 because of the war. Tens of millions more were uprooted by Hitler and Stalin. In the immediate aftermath of Germany's defeat, the continent was scarred with violent retribution, purges and outbreaks of what in some places - like Greece and Yugoslavia - amounted to civil war. As Judt notes, the war in Europe did not really end in 1945 at all. Neither did the persecution of Jews end with the closing of the death camps: well over a thousand Jews were killed in Polish pogroms after the liberation of Poland.
— The New York Times
Publishers Weekly
This is the best history we have of Europe in the postwar period and not likely to be surpassed for many years. Judt, director of New York University's Remarque Institute, is an academic historian of repute and, more recently, a keen observer of European affairs whose powerfully written articles have appeared in the New York Times, the New York Review of Books and elsewhere. Here he combines deep knowledge with a sharply honed style and an eye for the expressive detail. Postwar is a hefty volume, and there are places where the details might overwhelm some readers. But the reward is always there: after pages on cabinet shuffles in some small country, or endless diplomatic negotiations concerning the fate of Germany or moves toward the European Union, the reader is snapped back to attention by insightful analysis and excellent writing. Judt shows that the dire human and economic costs of WWII shadowed Europe for a very long time afterward. Europeans and Americans recall the economic miracle, but it didn't really transform people's lives until the late 1950s, when a new, more individualized, consumer-oriented society began to appear in the West. But Postwar is not just a history of Western Europe. One of its great virtues is that it fully integrates the history of Eastern and Western Europe, and covers the small countries as well as the large and powerful ones. Judt is judicious, even a bit uncritical, in his appraisal of American involvement in Europe in the early postwar years, and he's scathing about Western intellectuals' accommodation to communism. His book focuses on cultural and intellectual life rather than the social experiences of factory workers or peasants, but it would probably be impossible to encompass all of it in one volume. Overall, this is history writing at its very best. Agent, Andrew Wylie. (On sale Oct. 10) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Judt (European studies, NYU; The Burden of Responsibility), a prolific and respected historian of recent Europe, has written a massive but nonetheless lively and thoughtful historical overview of today's Europe from the end of World War II through the economic, social, cultural, and political changes and continuities of the last 60 years. He includes the entire European continent in his consideration, and for American readers his view through this lens may serve to render familiar events differently, adding new dimensions to the America-focused narratives of the postwar years. From its opening chapter, a moving account of the devastation of Europe at the end of World War II, through the thoughtful analysis of the patterns and temper of the "The Old Europe and the New," which provides the closing chapter, this book gives a well-rounded picture of the trends, events, and people that have made contemporary Europe. In less capable hands, it would have been easy for such a huge and all-encompassing work to become a boring slog through names, places, and events. But Judt sees the bigger picture and conveys it ably, making the book lively enough to be read from cover to cover. Not all historians will agree with every one of Judt's assertions, but this book is certain to be a major addition to postwar European studies. For all collections. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 6/15/05; for an interview with Judt, see "Fall Editor's Picks," LJ 9/1/05.-Ed.]-Barbara Walden, Univ. of Wisconsin, Madison Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
From the Publisher
"Brilliant . . . A book that has the pace of a thriller and the scope of an encyclopedia . . . A very considerable achievement." --The New York Review of Books

"Judt's massive, learned, brilliantly detailed account of Europe's recovery from the wreckage of World War II presents a whole continent in panorama even as it sets off detonations on almost every page." --The New York Times Book Review

"Remarkable... The writing is vivid; the coverage-of little countries as well as of great ones-is virtually superhuman; and above all, the book is smart. Every page contains unexpected data, or a fresh observation, or a familar observation freshly turned." --Louis Menand, The New Yorker

"Impressive . . . Mr. Judt writes with enormous authority." --The Wall Street Journal

"Magisterial . . . It is, without a doubt, the most comprehensive, authoritative, and yes, readable postwar history." --The Boston Globe

"Brave and remakable." --The Washington Post

"Not likely to be surpassed for many years. . . . This is history writing at its best." --Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781594200656
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
10/06/2005
Pages:
896
Product dimensions:
6.34(w) x 9.50(h) x 1.82(d)

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher
...brilliantly detailed account of Europe's recovery from the wreckage of World War II presents a whole continent in panorama. (The New York Times Book Review)

Remarkable... The writing is vivid; the coverage-of little countries as well as of great ones-is virtually superhuman. (Louis Menand, The New Yorker)

Meet the Author

Tony Judt was the Erich Maria Remarque Professor of European Studies at New York University, as well as the founder and director of the Remarque Institute, dedicated to creating an ongoing conversation between Europe and the United States. He was educated at King’s College, Cambridge, and the École Normale Supérieure, Paris, and also taught at Cambridge, Oxford, and Berkeley. Professor Judt was a frequent contributor to The New York Review of BooksThe Times Literary Supplement, The New RepublicThe New York Times, and many journals across Europe and the United States. He is the author or editor of fifteen books, including Thinking the Twentieth CenturyThe Memory ChaletIll Fares the LandReappraisals: Reflections on the Forgotten Twentieth Century, and Postwar: A History of Europe Since 1945, which was one of The New York Times Book Review’s Ten Best Books of 2005, the winner of the Council on Foreign Relations Arthur Ross Book Award, and a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. He died in August 2010 at the age of sixty-two.

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