Ill Fares the Land by Tony Judt

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Synopsis

Something is profoundly wrong with the way we think about how we should live today.

In Ill Fares The Land, Tony Judt, one of our leading historians and thinkers, reveals how we have arrived at our present dangerously confused moment. Judt masterfully crystallizes what we've all been feeling into a way to think our way into, and thus out of, our great collective dis-ease about the current state of things.

As the economic collapse of 2008 made clear, the social contract that defined postwar life in Europe and America - the guarantee of a basal level of security, stability and fairness -- is no longer guaranteed; in fact, it's no longer part of the common discourse. Judt offers the language we need to address our common needs, rejecting the nihilistic individualism of the far right and the debunked socialism of the past. To find a way forward, we must look to our not so distant past and to social democracy in action: to re-enshrining fairness over mere efficiency.

Distinctly absent from our national dialogue, social democrats believe that the state can play an enhanced role in our lives without threatening our liberties. Instead of placing blind faith in the market-as we have to our detriment for the past thirty years-social democrats entrust their fellow citizens and the state itself.

Ill Fares the Land challenges us to confront our societal ills and to shoulder responsibility for the world we live in. For hope remains. In reintroducing alternatives to the status quo, Judt reinvigorates our political conversation, providing the tools necessary to imagine a new form of governance, a new way of life.
 

About Tony Judt

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TONY JUDT is the author or editor of fifteen books, including The Memory Chalet and Postwar, which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. He was University Professor at New York University and the founder of the Remarque Institute. He died in August 2010 at the age of sixty-two.TIMOTHY SNYDER is Professor of History at Yale University and the author of five award-winning books, most recently Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin.
 
Published March 18, 2010 by Penguin Books. 256 pages
Genres: Political & Social Sciences, History, Education & Reference, Business & Economics. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Ill Fares the Land

The New York Times

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He reminds us that the word “public” — in terms of what a government can provide for the majority of its people — “was not always a term of opprobrium in the national lexicon.” Wistfully, Mr. Judt cites some of the achievements of the Democratic-led Congresses of the 1960s, achievements that w...

Mar 16 2010 | Read Full Review of Ill Fares the Land

The New York Times

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Like the prophets, Judt likes to resort to homily: “We know what things cost but have no idea what they are worth.” He also approvingly quotes Tocqueville, who laments that people fear “every new theory as a danger, every innovation as a toilsome trouble.” But after delivering his broadsides agai...

Apr 30 2010 | Read Full Review of Ill Fares the Land

The Guardian

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While I disagree with many of the judgments on recent history made by Tony Judt in this book, there is no doubt that he is himself a great historian.

Apr 11 2010 | Read Full Review of Ill Fares the Land

Publishers Weekly

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James Adams delivers a noteworthy performance in this audio version of Judt’s manifesto on how humanity has arrived at a potentially disastrous place in history and how we must rework out contract with society and the state to preserve our economy and our environment for future generations.

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NPR

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In 2008, historian Tony Judt was diagnosed with ALS, a progressive motor-neuron disease. For the past several months, Judt has been writing a series of essays for The New York Review of Books, charting life in what he calls a "progressive imprisonment without parole."

Mar 29 2010 | Read Full Review of Ill Fares the Land

The Washington Times

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They need it - and Mr. Judt’s “Ill Fares the Land” will serve them far, far better than Lenin’s “The Soviets at Work” served my college-aged grandfather.

May 21 2010 | Read Full Review of Ill Fares the Land

The Globe and Mail

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Tony Judt, facing death, calls on the West to move away from its crass materialism and embrace the greater good

Apr 30 2010 | Read Full Review of Ill Fares the Land

The Independent

The smart ones like Judt went to America where they had well-paid jobs and an audience that lapped up the oh-so-English cleverness of the 1968 generation of Oxbridge writers – Judt himself plus Simon Schama, Paul Kennedy, Niall Ferguson, Christopher Hitchins, Martin Walker and Colin MacCabe, amon...

Apr 09 2010 | Read Full Review of Ill Fares the Land

The Telegraph

Though vocal about the evils of privatisation, he has little to say about the militant trade unionism of the Seventies and only one line about the appalling record of state education since the Sixties.From the vantage of his academic post in New York, Judt advocates a greater role for th...

Apr 06 2010 | Read Full Review of Ill Fares the Land

The Telegraph

And if nationalised industries and an all-encompassing welfare state are the precondition of any sense of political community, how did this country manage to have any genuine political life before the late Forties?

Mar 28 2010 | Read Full Review of Ill Fares the Land

Suite 101

Despite attempts by Republicans such as Mike Huckabee to smear his record, President Obama has amassed a long list of accomplishments in his first term.

May 30 2010 | Read Full Review of Ill Fares the Land

Review (Barnes & Noble)

Until a year ago, Tony Judt was a prolific historian of twentieth-century Europe and a frequent critic of American foreign policy.

May 10 2010 | Read Full Review of Ill Fares the Land

The New York Review of Books

but whereas many liberals might see such taxation or public provision as a necessary evil, a social democratic vision of the good society entails from the outset a greater role for the state and the public sector.

Apr 29 2010 | Read Full Review of Ill Fares the Land

Literary Review

Judt does not imagine that the social democracy that prevailed in Britain, Europe and (under a different description) America during the three decades after the war can be conjured back into existence.

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