The Origins of Totalitarianism

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Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Mar 21, 1973 - History - 576 pages
2 Reviews

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.

 

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Review: The Origins of Totalitarianism

User Review  - Ryan - Goodreads

Hannah Arendt's prose is great, which makes this book easy to read. Unfortunately for me, she makes passing reference to many events that I'm not familiar with. The general reading public may have ... Read full review

Review: The Origins of Totalitarianism

User Review  - Bryan - Goodreads

A Book to be read now: I'll keep this simple: look at what is going on in the US, in the MId-East, in China. If that doesn't alarm you, you need to read this book even more carefully than the rest of ... Read full review

Contents

PART ONE Antisemitism
PART TWO Imperialism
PART THREE Totalitarianism
Back Matter
Back Cover
Spine
Copyright

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About the author (1973)

Born in Hanover, Germany, Hannah Arendt received her doctorate from Heidelberg University in 1928. A victim of naziism, she fled Germany in 1933 for France, where she helped with the resettlement of Jewish children in Palestine. In 1941, she emigrated to the United States. Ten years later she became an American citizen. Arendt held numerous positions in her new country---research director of the Conference on Jewish Relations, chief editor of Schocken Books, and executive director of Jewish Cultural Reconstruction in New York City. A visiting professor at several universities, including the University of California, Columbia, and the University of Chicago, and university professor on the graduate faculty of the New School for Social Research, in 1959 she became the first woman appointed to a full professorship at Princeton. She also won a number of grants and fellowships. In 1967 she received the Sigmund Freud Prize of the German Akademie fur Sprache und Dichtung for her fine scholarly writing. Arendt was well equipped to write her superb The Origins of Totalitarianism (1951) which David Riesman called "an achievement in historiography." In his view, "such an experience in understanding our times as this book provides is itself a social force not to be underestimated." Arendt's study of Adolf Eichmann at his trial---Eichmann in Jerusalem (1963)---part of which appeared originally in The New Yorker, was a painfully searching investigation into what made the Nazi persecutor tick. In it, she states that the trial of this Nazi illustrates the "banality of evil." In 1968, she published Men in Dark Times, which includes essays on Hermann Broch, Walter Benjamin, and Bertolt Brecht (see Vol. 2), as well as an interesting characterization of Pope John XXIII.

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