Thinking the Twentieth Century

( 6 )


Here is the final book of unparalleled historian Tony Judt. Where Judt's masterpiece Postwar redefined the history of modern Europe by uniting the stories of its eastern and western halves, Thinking the Twentieth Century unites the century's conflicted intellectual history into a single soaring narrative. The twentieth century comes to life as the age of ideas—a time when, for good or for ill, the thoughts of the few reigned over the lives of the many. Judt presents the triumphs and the failures of public ...

See more details below
Available through our Marketplace sellers.
Other sellers (Audiobook)
  • All (1) from   
  • New (1) from $0.00   
Sort by
Showing All
We’re having technical difficulties. Please try again shortly.
Showing All
Sort by
Thinking the Twentieth Century

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK
  • NOOK HD/HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
$14.99 price
This digital version does not exactly match the physical book displayed here.


Here is the final book of unparalleled historian Tony Judt. Where Judt's masterpiece Postwar redefined the history of modern Europe by uniting the stories of its eastern and western halves, Thinking the Twentieth Century unites the century's conflicted intellectual history into a single soaring narrative. The twentieth century comes to life as the age of ideas—a time when, for good or for ill, the thoughts of the few reigned over the lives of the many. Judt presents the triumphs and the failures of public intellectuals, adeptly extracting the essence of their ideas and explaining the risks of their involvement in politics. Spanning the entire era and all currents of thought, this is a triumphant tour de force that restores clarity to the classics of modern thought with the assurance and grace of a master craftsman.

The exceptional nature of this work is evident in its very structure—a series of luminous conversations between Judt and his friend and fellow historian Timothy Snyder, grounded in the texts of their trade and focused by the intensity of their vision. Judt's astounding eloquence and range of reference are on display as never before. Traversing the century's complexities with ease, he and Snyder revive both thoughts and thinkers, guiding us through the debates that made our world. As forgotten treasures are unearthed and overrated thinkers are dismantled, the shape of a century emerges. Judt and Snyder make us partners in their project as we learn the ways to think like a historian or even like a public intellectual. We begin to experience the power of historical perspective for the critique and reform of society and for the pursuit of the good from day to day.

In restoring—and exemplifying—the best of the intellectual life of the twentieth century, Thinking the Twentieth Century charts a pathway for moral life in the twenty-first. An incredible achievement, this book is about the life of the mind—and the mindful life.

Read More Show Less

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.)
"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
An intellectual feast, learned, lucid, challenging and accessible.”
San 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 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.”
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.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781455126286
  • Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.
  • Publication date: 2/2/2012
  • Format: CD
  • Edition description: Unabridged
  • Pages: 12
  • Product dimensions: 6.80 (w) x 6.20 (h) x 1.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Tony Judt (1948–2010) was the author or editor of fifteen books, including The Memory Chalet and Postwar, which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. He was the director and founder of the Remarque Institute and a professor at New York University.
Timothy Snyder is a professor of history at Yale University and the author of five award-winning books, most recently Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin. He lives in New Haven, Connecticut.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Foreword (Timothy Snyder) ix

1 The Name Remains: Jewish Questioner 1

2 London and Language: English Writer 46

3 Familial Socialism: Political Marxist 75

4 King's and Kibbutzim: Cambridge Zionist 106

5 Paris, California: French Intellectual 140

6 Generation of Understanding: East European Liberal 195

7 Unities and Fragments: European Historian 249

8 Age of Responsibility: American Moralist 284

9 The Banality of Good: Social Democrat 331

Afterword (Tony Fudt) 389

Works Discussed 399

Index 405

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 6 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 15, 2012

    Whether one agrees with Judt or not, this book is a monument to

    Whether one agrees with Judt or not, this book is a monument to his determination to think for himself, against the grain, even if inviting criticism from those wanting different answers, more loyalty, or grander theories. His book-length conversation (before he died of ALS) with fellow historian Timothy Snyder interweaves the events of the past century with Judt’s own wonderfully told reminiscences and intellectual journey away from –isms (Zionism, communism) towards a more pluralistic ethics and politics. Judt’s observations on European and American history are quick witted, if sometimes acerbic, and lovely for their attentiveness to the small things that change an era (trains and public buses!). Perhaps this book will resonant more with readers familiar with Judt’s work. Regardless, he bequeaths us this conversation about how we reinterpret the past in light of a public responsibility “not to imagine better worlds but rather to think how to prevent worse ones.”

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 13, 2012

    Too Academic for Layman Reader.

    I was disappointed in this book after reading two of his earlier works. The conversation and level of detail is just too academic and nuanced for me.

    Tony, RIP.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 1, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted February 27, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted August 25, 2014

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted July 23, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)