Thinking the Twentieth Century

Thinking the Twentieth Century

3.8 6
by Tony Judt
     
 

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"Ideas crackle" in this triumphant final book of Tony Judt, taking readers on "a wild ride through the ideological currents and shoals of 20th century thought.” (Los Angeles Times)

The final book of the brilliant historian and indomitable public critic Tony Judt, Thinking the Twentieth Century maps the issues and concerns of aSee more details below

Overview

"Ideas crackle" in this triumphant final book of Tony Judt, taking readers on "a wild ride through the ideological currents and shoals of 20th century thought.” (Los Angeles Times)

The final book of the brilliant historian and indomitable public critic Tony Judt, Thinking the Twentieth Century maps the issues and concerns of a turbulent age on to a life of intellectual conflict and engagement.

The twentieth century comes to life as an age of ideas--a time when, for good and for ill, the thoughts of the few reigned over the lives of the many. Judt presents the triumphs and the failures of prominent intellectuals, adeptly explaining both their ideas and the risks of their political commitments.  Spanning an era with unprecedented clarity and insight, Thinking the Twentieth Century is a tour-de-force, a classic engagement of modern thought by one of the century’s most incisive thinkers.

The exceptional nature of this work is evident in its very structure--a series of intimate conversations between Judt and his friend and fellow historian Timothy Snyder, grounded in the texts of the time and focused by the intensity of their vision.  Judt's astounding eloquence and range are here on display as never before.  Traversing the complexities of modern life with ease, he and Snyder revive both thoughts and thinkers, guiding us through the debates that made our world. As forgotten ideas are revisited and fashionable trends scrutinized, the shape of a century emerges.  Judt and Snyder draw us deep into their analysis, making us feel that we too are part of the conversation. We become aware of the obligations of the present to the past, and the force of historical perspective and moral considerations in the critique and reform of society, then and now.

In restoring and indeed exemplifying the best of intellectual life in the twentieth century, Thinking the Twentieth Century opens pathways to a moral life for the twenty-first. This is a book about the past, but it is also an argument for the kind of future we should strive for: Thinking the Twentieth Century is about the life of the mind--and the mindful life.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this scintillating series of conversations undertaken as he was dying of Lou Gehrig’s Disease, British-American historian Judt (The Memory Chalet) and his interlocutor Snyder (Bloodlands) survey the triumphs and barbarities of the past century through the lens of the thinkers and ideologues who shaped it. Interleaving autobiographical sketches with fluent, freewheeling discussions of history, politics, and culture, Judt revisits crucial 20th-century intellectual currents: the impact of two world wars and the Great Depression on politics and philosophy; the development of and rivalry between communist and fascist dogmas; the success of social democracy and Keynesian economics in bringing liberal government, broad-based growth, and social equality to the post-war world; and the retreat from those achievements prompted by free-market fundamentalism’s attack on the activist state. (He also reprises his criticism of Israel after recalling summers on the kibbutz.) Judt’s ability to distill heaps of erudition into lucid, pithy conversation, even when on a breathing apparatus, is astonishing; he’s as engaging on the religious dimensions of Marxism and Freudianism as on Obama and the Iraq War. Snyder, a historian and former student of Judt’s, contributes probing interjections that stimulate and test his mentor’s ideas. The result is a lively, browsable, deeply satisfying meditation on recent history by a deservedly celebrated public intellectual. (Feb.)
From the Publisher
"There are so many ways that Thinking the Twentieth Century is a remarkable book. The lifetime of scholarship and intellectual engagement lying behind that verb "thinking" in the title. The way ideas crackle in the interplay between the authors. The passionate involvement with issues political and controversial. That the book could have been written at all, given the tragic circumstances surrounding it... Judt proceeds to take the reader on a wild ride through the ideological currents and shoals of 20th century thought."
The Los Angeles TimesTHE LOS ANGELES TIMES

An intellectual feast, learned, lucid, challenging and accessible.”
San Francisco ChronicleSAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE

Fans will find plenty to sustain them in this poignant coda to a life marked by great feats of penmanship, scholarly insight and contemporary polemic… [Judt’s] bravery is ever-present,but rightly understated. As Mr Snyder notes in his introduction, the book is both about the life of the mind and a mindful life. Judt exemplified both.”
The EconomistTHE ECONOMIST

“Judt was a provocateur, but maybe an accidental one, and after reading this remarkable, impassioned book, it's hard to doubt his sincerity… Thinking the Twentieth Century is Judt's final salvo against what he saw as a culture of historical ignorance and political apathy, and it's every bit as brilliant, uncompromising and original as he was.”
—NPR — NPR.org

“Incandescent on every page with intellectual energy.”
—Pankaj Mishra, Prospect Magazine (UK) — Pankaj Mishra, PROSPECT MAGAZINE (UK)

"Scintillating... a lively, browsable, deeply satisfying meditation on recent history by a deservedly celebrated public intellectual."
Publisher's Weekly (starred review) — PUBLISHERS WEEKLY (starred review)

THE LOS ANGELES TIMES
"There are so many ways that Thinking the Twentieth Century is a remarkable book. The lifetime of scholarship and intellectual engagement lying behind that verb "thinking" in the title. The way ideas crackle in the interplay between the authors. The passionate involvement with issues political and controversial. That the book could have been written at all, given the tragic circumstances surrounding it... Judt proceeds to take the reader on a wild ride through the ideological currents and shoals of 20th century thought."
The Los Angeles Times
SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE
An intellectual feast, learned, lucid, challenging and accessible.”
San Francisco Chronicle
THE ECONOMIST
Fans will find plenty to sustain them in this poignant coda to a life marked by great feats of penmanship, scholarly insight and contemporary polemic… [Judt’s] bravery is ever-present,but rightly understated. As Mr Snyder notes in his introduction, the book is both about the life of the mind and a mindful life. Judt exemplified both.”
The Economist
NPR.org
“Judt was a provocateur, but maybe an accidental one, and after reading this remarkable, impassioned book, it's hard to doubt his sincerity… Thinking the Twentieth Century is Judt's final salvo against what he saw as a culture of historical ignorance and political apathy, and it's every bit as brilliant, uncompromising and original as he was.”
—NPR
Pankaj Mishra
“Incandescent on every page with intellectual energy.”
—Pankaj Mishra, Prospect Magazine (UK)
Library Journal
Judt (Postwar: A History of Europe Since 1945), who died last year, never got to write the intellectual history of the 20th century that was to have been his next project. Before he died, though, Snyder (history, Yale Univ., Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin) sat with him over the course of several months. Together they talked through the complicated history of the past century, a history that Judt, in particular, knew well. The result is part memoir (the chapters start with Judt's reminiscences) and part historical analysis. Judt's particular strength was his ability to draw connections between the political and what public persons, including intellectuals, said and did about politics, explaining complicated things lucidly but never oversimplifying. This posthumous volume is informed by Judt's exceptional sensitivity and sense of irony; every page has a bon mot. VERDICT We may never have the full history Judt intended to write, but this marvelous précis, vibrantly alive, rich, and piquant, is one last gift from an exceptional public intellectual. Not only academics and fans of Judt, but also those who enjoy the New York Review of Books and The New Yorker will flock to read it. Highly recommended. [See Prepub Alert, 8/8/11.]—David Keymer, Modesto, CA
Kirkus Reviews
Two brilliant scholars parse the politics and economics of the past 100 years. That could be a dry task, but for the quiet passion of Judt (The Memory Chalet, 2010, etc.) and Snyder (History/Yale Univ.; Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin, 2010, etc.), who spent most of 2009 talking about, in Snyder's summary, "the limitations (and capacity for renewal) of political ideas, and the moral failures (and duties) of intellectuals in politics." The authors consider these questions within the framework of 20th-century history and the biography of Judt, who died in 2010. Born in London in 1948, the son of immigrant Jews, Judt grew up with the modern welfare state, benefiting from its meritocratic educational system to attend Cambridge and pursue academic studies focused first on French history, then Eastern Europe after World War II. He was an ardent youthful Zionist who later severely criticized Israeli policies, creating a furor in 2003 with an essay arguing for a one-state solution to the Palestinian problem. Judt reluctantly took on the role of public intellectual because of a sense--clearly shared by Snyder, their conversations reveal--that the problems currently plaguing America in particular and the advanced industrial economies in general cannot be meaningfully addressed without understanding their deep roots in a history that stretches back to World War I. This history includes the ravages inflicted by unrestrained capitalism, the appeal and very similar failings of communism and fascism, the misguided uses to which the Holocaust has been put and the post-WWII social bargain that unraveled in the '70s. Judt and Snyder analyze these and many other historical issues with lofty erudition matched by unabashed polemicism--Judt skewers David Brooks as a know-nothing and characterizes Thomas Friedman's support of the Iraq war as "contemptible"). Social democracy has rarely had better-informed, more ethically rigorous advocates than these two distinguished men. For readers who like to be challenged, this searching look at our recent history provides a firm intellectual and moral foundation for understanding the dilemmas of our time.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781101559871
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
02/02/2012
Sold by:
Penguin Group
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
432
Sales rank:
564,791
File size:
0 MB
Age Range:
18 Years

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