Thinking the Twentieth Century

Thinking the Twentieth Century

Book - 2012
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Thinking the Twentieth Century maps the issues and concerns of a turbulent age onto a life of intellectual conflict and engagement. Tony Judt presents the triumphs and the failures of prominent intellectuals, adeptly explaining both their ideas and the risks of their political commitments.--[book jacket].
Publisher: New York : Penguin Press, 2012
ISBN: 9781594203237
Branch Call Number: 320.092 JUDT
Characteristics: xvii, 414 pages ; 25 cm
Additional Contributors: Snyder, Timothy
Alternative Title: Thinking the 20th century


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Mar 10, 2018

Sadly there are too few books like this one: intelligent conversations with the ability and willingness to speak for far longer than is acceptable in person, or even during a formal interview. This one is quite good: each chapter starts off with a bit of autobiography and then the topic of the day is discussed. Since its about (mostly) twentieth century European history and what is important to us about it, there are a wide range of topics: control of the economy, warfare, political evil, intellectuals, and much else. It would be very interesting to have a book like this by others on other parts of the world: the far East, South America, and Africa (oddly, there is nothing about de-colonization, or, for that matter, colonies maintained (China, Indonesia, Russia). There was a slight against world systems theory (which I was once rather smitten by) and Wallerstein: that it merely "recycles banalities", and highly agreeable disdain upon the hyphenated 'studies', many of which now have their own departments. On p.376, the third italicized paragraph (Snyder talking) is one which is ever more applicable today in Canada, and is likely to be that way in the future too. There are many wise pronouncements like "you cannot invent or exploit the past for present purposes." (p.259). I wonder if the AFN, this or that protest cum interest group would ever heed that, or whether citizens have the courage to call out such abuse of history.

Aug 04, 2012

I'm tempted to call this book "Thursdays with Tony," since, like another famous book, it consists of conversations with a professor dying of ALS. But these conversations are with a fellow professor and although they are partly biographical, the focus is on modern European history. Anyone with a background and interest in the subject will find this a rewarding read.


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