"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)
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
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
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.
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.