Reappraisals: Reflections on the Forgotten Twentieth Century

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From one of our greatest historians and public intellectuals, reflections on a twentieth century that is turning into ancient history, when it's not being displaced by myth or forgotten entirely, with unprecedented speed and at great cost

The accelerating changes of the past generation have been accompanied by a comparably accelerated amnesia. The twentieth century has become "history" at an unprecedented rate. The world of 2007 is so utterly unlike that of even 1987, much less any earlier time, that we have lost touch with our immediate past even before we have begun to make sense of it. In less than a generation, the headlong advance of globalization, with the geographical shifts of emphasis and influence it brings in its wake, has altered the structures of thought that had been essentially unchanged since the European industrial revolution. Quite literally, we don't know where we came from.

The results have proved calamitous thus far, with the prospect of far worse. We have lost touch with a century of social thought and socially motivated social activism. We no longer know how to discuss such concepts and have forgotten the role once played by intellectuals in debating, transmitting, and defending the ideas that shaped their time. In Reappraisals, Tony Judt resurrects the key aspects of the world we have lost in order to remind us how important they still are to us now and to our hopes for the future.

Reappraisals draws provocative connections between a dazzling range of subjects, from the history of the neglect and recovery of the Holocaust and the challenge of "evil" in the understanding of the European past to the rise and fall of the "state" in public affairs and the displacement of history by "heritage." With his trademark acuity and lan, Tony Judt takes us beyond what we think we know to show us how we came to know it and reveals how many aspects of our history have been sacrificed in the triumph of mythmaking over understanding, collective identity over truth, and denial over memory. His book is a road map back to the historical sense we so vitally need.

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - msaucier818 - LibraryThing

I rate this book 3.5 stars. The first half I would give 3 stars, and the second half I would give 4 stars. The book is basically a collection of extended book review written by Judt dealing with 20th ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - varske - LibraryThing

This is an excellent book which reminds us what we had forgotten until the financial crisis, when despite all the neocon propaganda we needed the state to bale out the banks. It reminds us that we ... Read full review


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About the author (2008)

Tony Judt was born in London in 1948. He was educated at King's College, Cambridge, and the cole Normale Sup rieure, Paris, and has taught at Cambridge, Oxford, Berkeley, and New York University, where he is currently the Erich Maria Remarque Professor of European Studies and Director of the Remarque Institute, which is dedicated to the study of Europe and that he founded in 1995. The author or editor of twelve books, he is a frequent contributor to The New York Review of Books, the Times Literary Supplement, The New Republic, The New York Times, and many other journals in Europe and the United States. Professor Judt is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, and a Permanent Fellow of the Institut f r die Wissenschaften vom Menschen (Vienna). His most recent book, Postwar: A History of Europe Since 1945, was one of The New York Times Book Review's Ten Best Books of 2005, the winner of the Council on Foreign Relations Arthur Ross Book Award, and a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.

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