Thinking the Twentieth Century by Tony Judt

83%

6 Critic Reviews

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

Synopsis

"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.
 

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 February 2, 2012 by Penguin Books. 433 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences, Law & Philosophy. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for Thinking the Twentieth Century
All: 6 | Positive: 5 | Negative: 1

NY Times

Good
Reviewed by Francis Fukuyama on Feb 03 2012

In the end, what is striking about this book is the great difference between the 20th-century world it describes and the present.

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Guardian

Good
Reviewed by Christopher Bray on Feb 03 2013

Thus "the time has … come to distinguish between Israel and the Holocaust, since the latter should not be allowed to serve as a get-out-of-jail-free card for a rogue state". Phrases like these crop up on nearly every page of this valiant book. Read it and weep that there shall be no more.

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Guardian

Excellent
Reviewed by Neal Ascherson on Feb 02 2012

Brilliantly eloquent, and apparently recalling every book they have ever read, the two historians find something striking and original to say about almost everything.

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NPR

Excellent
Reviewed by Michael Schaub on Feb 02 2012

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.

Read Full Review of Thinking the Twentieth Century | See more reviews from NPR

Globe and Mail

Good
Reviewed by JANICE KULYK KEEFER on Feb 24 2012

Let us hope that voters heading to the polls this November to elect a president of the United States keep Judt’s words in heart and mind.

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LA Times

Above average
Reviewed by Martin Rubin on Mar 18 2012

It is disappointing to see how, even at this late stage, Judt was himself so intolerant and contemptuous of those who differed from him on this issue, unable to respect their point of view as he clearly wanted his own to be.

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