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Thinking the Twentieth Century

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"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.

From Publishers Weekly

Sep 26, 2011 – 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.

Customer Reviews

Excellent intellectual conversation

Formatted as dialogue between two superb historians and observers of a range of past and present concerns in Europe and the United States. accessible with some very cogent discussions of the practice of history - which may be a bit inside baseballish for some. Partic enjoyed his willingness to expose the great faux intellectuals/shills such as David Brooks & Thomas Friedman.

Thinking the Twentieth Century
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  • $14.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: United States
  • Published: Feb 02, 2012
  • Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
  • Seller: Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
  • Print Length: 432 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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