The Origins of Totalitarianism by Hannah Arendt

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Hannah Arendt's definitive work on totalitarianism and an essential component of any study of twentieth-century political history


The Origins of Totalitarianism begins with the rise of anti-Semitism in central and western Europe in the 1800s and continues with an examination of European colonial imperialism from 1884 to the outbreak of World War I. Arendt explores the institutions and operations of totalitarian movements, focusing on the two genuine forms of totalitarian government in our time—Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia—which she adroitly recognizes were two sides of the same coin, rather than opposing philosophies of Right and Left. From this vantage point, she discusses the evolution of classes into masses, the role of propaganda in dealing with the nontotalitarian world, the use of terror, and the nature of isolation and loneliness as preconditions for total domination.


About Hannah Arendt

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HANNAH ARENDT was born in Hanover, Germany, in 1906, fled to Paris in 1933, and came to the United States after the outbreak of World War II. She was the editorial director of Schocken Books from 1946 to 1948. She taught at Berkeley, Princeton, the University of Chicago, and the New School for Social Research. Among her other books are The Human Condition, On Revolution, Essays in Understanding, The Jewish Writings, The Promise of Politics, Responsibility and Judgment, and The Life of the Mind. Arendt died in 1975.
Published March 21, 1973 by Mariner Books. 578 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences, Education & Reference, Law & Philosophy, War, Young Adult, Children's Books. Non-fiction

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A tri-partite study of anti-semitism (not merely the hatred of the Jews), imperialism (not merely conquest) and totalitarianism (not merely dictatorship) which examines political, social and historical forces with an impressive scholarship.

Oct 13 2011 | Read Full Review of The Origins of Totalitarianism


Slate is published by The Slate Group, a Graham Holdings Company.

Mar 24 2017 | Read Full Review of The Origins of Totalitarianism

The Daily Beast

Rarely have I seen a film in which the image of a woman, thinking, steadily holds the camera the way it does here—whether she is thinking and smoking, thinking and staring into space, thinking and cutting up vegetables, thinking and conversing, or thinking and tapping typewriter keys—without prod...

Jun 04 2013 | Read Full Review of The Origins of Totalitarianism

London Review of Books

But if Dr Barber would take the trouble to go back and reread, for example, Hannah Arendt’s Origins of Totalitarianism, he would see that the bulk of Getty’s argument is quite compatible with – indeed, tends to support – the basic account of Soviet totalitarianism and its development given by Are...

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One way this may still be avoided is, if the current regime develops its own brand of democracy by allowing another party to develop and run for elections by the people of Cuba for the people of Cuba.

Aug 01 2006 | Read Full Review of The Origins of Totalitarianism


Since his death in 1956 Mencken’s reputation has been kept fitfully alive by a popular paperback, The Vintage Mencken, compiled by Alistair Cooke, and by the fat compendium – edited by the man himself – A Mencken Chrestomathy.

Dec 10 2010 | Read Full Review of The Origins of Totalitarianism

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