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Postwar: A History Of Europe Since 1945
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Postwar: A History Of Europe Since 1945 (Η Ευρώπη μετά τον Πόλεμο #1)

4.33 of 5 stars 4.33  ·  rating details  ·  4,637 ratings  ·  387 reviews
World War II may have ended in 1945, but according to historian Tony Judt, the conflict's epilogue lasted for nearly the rest of the century. Calling 1945-1989 "an interim age," Judt examines what happened on each side of the Iron Curtain, with the West nervously inching forward while the East endured the "peace of the prison yard" until the fall of Communism in 1989 signa ...more
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Published October 6th 2005 by William Heinemann Ltd (first published October 18th 1999)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Szplug
This is history writ large done to perfection. Judt has compressed a lifetime of study and exploration of European cultural memes into this masterwork, one which abounds with erudition, penetrating analysis, and wise reflection. Judt states in his introduction that he hoped to produce a work that might compare favorably with that of the historians he had read and enjoyed, such as Eric Hosbsbawn. Speaking as one who has read the latter's brilliant tetralogy that runs from the French Revolution to ...more
Jim
I was born in 1945 and lived through everything that Tony Judt writes about in Postwar: A History of Europe Since 1945, but from a slightly different perspective. I was a Hungarian born in the United States, in Cleveland, which along Buckeye Road was fully as Hungarian as that ancient capital on the Duna. From my youth, I was surrounded by stories about Hungary, about the little farm in Felcsut that was "taken away from us" by the Communists.

Europe was always very near to me, even though it was
...more
Michael
I have often referred to this book as a great act of hubris and an uncommon realization of the author's ambition. The sheer audacity in enclosing a continent's history over 60 years in one spine is staggering and only pales in comparison to the striking amount of detail and context Judt provides his readers. In many ways Postwar is the ultimate starting point for anyone who seeks to enhance their postwar history chops, in other ways Judt provides a perfect condensation of thousands of postwar te ...more
Anthony
I managed to get through my entire undergraduate and graduate studies in history without having ever read a single book by Tony Judt. I have read some of his essays over the years, however, and they always struck me as pragmatic and apolitical. Other than his controversial positions on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, Judt, an ex-Marxist and fervent Social Democrat, is a believer in being "objective" (a term he is surprisingly critical of in the introduction to Postwar). While he admires past g ...more
Bookmarks Magazine

The unassuming, almost provocatively direct title belies an almost 1,000-page exhaustive survey of European history since the end of World War II. Yet this book isn't meant just to look impressive on the bookshelf; Judt is an astute thinker and polished writer who brings extensive cultural knowledge about film, music, and literature to bear on his daunting subjects: the Holocaust, the Stalinized East, the tide-changing 1960s, the implosion of the Iron Curtain, the policies of the European Union,

...more
Elena
Despite the title "A History of Europe since 1945," the late Tony Judt's 2005 book covers more than Europe and more than post 1945. In the avalanche of historical facts, Judt identifies a pattern of growing intolerance in the postwar world, and he's actually talking about post World War I. Where once different ethnic groups lived together in uneasy but workable ways, from 1914 on that pragmatic tolerance has been evaporating and ethnic strife has been increasing, even today when we should know b ...more
Lazarus P Badpenny Esq
A veritable Mont Blanc of a book in both scale and scope that successfully synthesizes the political, economic, social, and cultural developments in Europe following the Second World War. No doubt I shall be returning to its component parts for some time to come. The Epilogue concerning evolving postwar attitudes to Holocaust culpability was equally illuminating.
Kelly
I've basically read this. I get credit. I will explain later.
Matthew
This book is filling a gap in my knowledge so large that I cannot believe I never realised it was there. It seems to touch on so many things; it delivers the events, yes, but more interestingly it jumps from political commentary to economics to aesthetic and social theory to intellectual history. It is my first book on general European history, so I can't really critique the content, except to say I feel like I've been brought a long way. Above all I think it is a political history, delving -- s ...more
Max
Postwar is a masterful presentation; comprehensive and detailed without losing focus. Judt fits together the pieces of European history from the fall of Nazi Germany to the fall of the Soviet Union. He goes on to describe the new Europe that ensued and its challenges. He creates the sense of flow of history usually found in the more distant past. For those focused on topical interests such as WWII, the cold war, economic or social history, this book can provide context. To cover so much in one v ...more
Craig Werner
All the standard superlatives risk sounding a bit flat--cover blurb speak rather than real praise. Nonetheless, Judt's Postwar is brilliant, magisterial, definitive, choose your own adjective. My appreciation for it is increased by two factors that set it off from the other five star history books I've read in recent years. First, the book assembled a whole lot of fragments of information and analysis I'd been carrying around into a coherent picture. Second, I learned a lot about how to put toge ...more
Eleni
“By the end of the twentieth century the centrality of the Holocaust in Western European identity and memory seemed secure” .

Even if memory remains somewhat… asymmetrical across European nations, even if this book was completed, ironically, just a few years before the fiscal crisis kicked off – which means that the much appraised postwar recovery doesn’t register as an economic miracle in individual conscience anymore, and rightly so – Europe, as we know it today, is still a phenomenal achievem
...more
Will
What an absolutely outstanding book. I don’t think I have ever enjoyed reading history so much - there were some nights I read till after 1 because I couldn’t put it down. This is the story of Europe since the end of WW2, a seemingly dry topic if ever there was one, so what is it that makes the book so compelling? Well, it feels as if it is all here, every significant event for the whole period presented in so balanced a way that the weight given to each just “feels right”. Reading Postwar is li ...more
Marc
Een echte krachttoer: ongelofelijk uitgebalanceerd in de breedte, trefzeker in zijn grote lijnen en de details, kritisch en lucide. Judt vult het redelijk bekende politieke verhaal van de Europese geschiedenis aan met veel sociaaleconomische gegevens en mentaliteitselementen. Allemaal goed onderbouwd met statistieken, voorbeelden en citaten.
Maar toch ook wat zwakke kanten: regelmatig rekent Judt af, met de generatie van mei 68 bijvoorbeeld, met de Derde Weg van Blair, met Mitterrand enzovoort.
...more
Baris
Nicely written overview of post-war history of Europe. Although it contains tonnes of good emprical information on the political history (especially of France, Britain and W. Germany), the book utterly fails in explaining the main mechanisms of so-called post-war economic recovery and how Marshall plan played a role. Instead, Judt portrays it as a historical success of European social democracy without giving sufficient attention to US involvement in the region.
Also, --I must say-- what mr Judt
...more
Alasse
Oh boy. Wish me luck!
Kathleen
I am really glad that I read this-- I think I got a lot out of it -- but I can't say that it was an effortless read. (One of the blurbs says it has the "pace of a thriller and the scope of an encyclopedia" -- the second part of that feels more accurate than the first part.) For someone my age (I was born in 1962) the material covered here is both familiar and new. The events described are mostly things that I thought I had some understanding of, but Judt gives a much more nuanced view than any I ...more
Bonnie
I'm a history nut, but my specialty is pre-20th century. In fact, post-WWII history is my least favorite kind. I also am young enough that only the last chapter or two contained events that I saw on the news or read about in the paper. Given that, while I had a general idea of the outline of post-WWII Europe (Marshall Plan, USSR, fall of the Berlin wall, bloodshed in Bosnia/Kosovo), I discovered--to my embarassment--that a lot of this book contained material of which I was ignorant. For example, ...more
JimS


This one took me a long time to finish, but it was well worth it. Postwar actually is a monumental work, sweeping in its ambition and extraordinarily comprehensive. The best comes at the end: the idea that peace and a degree of European identity is the norm and that alone is a historical break from the previous centuries of constant war and atrocities. Judt is eloquent in talking about how Europe in the postwar period went from trying to ignore the Holocaust to almost fetishizing it to - in som
...more
Juan-Pablo
This is an ambitious book. It's also an impassioned account of the last 60 years of European History. Judt discloses in his Introduction that his is an "opinionated" book, and that's what I usually expect from a good history book. Historians that shield themselves in objectivity display boring and usually uninteresting accounts. The most impressive feature (and related to the former) of this work are its insights. One of the reviews says that there are insights in almost every (of the 900) page. ...more
Michael
An impressive and very readable tour of postwar European history. I learned a tremendous amount in just the first hundred pages about the impact of World War II on different parts of Europe, and on the rest of the world as exhausted and impoverished hegemons found they literally couldn't afford to keep their empires anymore.

Judt does a masterful job of interweaving political, social and economic currents after 1945 from one end of the continent to the other. It's a hefty book and not a quick rea
...more
Jan-Maat
A history of Europe from 1945 up to 2005, readable, interesting and puts a lot in context.

For Judt Europe ends where North Africa, Turkey and Russia begin, everywhere in between gets some coverage. The coverage given to eastern Europe contrasts with the situation in the west - an advantage which earlier pre-1989 histories can't offer.

In retrospect the treatment of the immediate post war years stands out as particularly good - but this may be due to their inherent drama. There are lots of point
...more
Denerick
The late Tony Judt has written a fantastic book here. A testament to the historian's aspiration to the status of literature. While adopting a broadly chronological approach to 60 years of European history (going right up to the Iraq war and beyond!) he embraces social, economic and cultural arguments that buttress what is still essentially a history of personalities - something I think that is lacking in modern historical scholarship. Usually its one or the other - that personality shapes histor ...more
Jim
One of the most difficult things to remember, in the early pages of Judt's magisterial history of Europe over the course of roughly 60 years (1945-2005), is that, in his introduction, Judt makes it clear that he is making an argument and presenting his history from a particular point of view. This is critical, because the closer you get to the present days, the more obvious this becomes, though it's never clear what constitutes his actual argument, or whether, in fact, he actually has an overarc ...more
Marks54
I have read a lot of history books and this is a really good one - although a bit long at 830 pages. There were several specific benefits that appealed to me. 1) It is good on the immediate postwar period and how that shifted into the Cold War. 2) It is very informative on continuities between pre and post war Europe, both east and west. 3) Judt also brings up a number of areas that were not clear when they began and only became taken for granted later -- such as the acceptance of a divided Germ ...more
Michael
Postwar covers Postwar Europe and may possibly take longer to read than the 60-year period it covers. I've been trying for a year and am nudging page 250. Judt starts promisingly with tales of destruction and 40 million dead. Once these fun and games are over, he he plods through a series of Weighty Topics (economics, socialism, industrialization, etc) nation-by-nation in almost exactly the same sequence: England did this, Italy did that. His attempts to leaven the load with analysis of pop cult ...more
Madeleine
DONE. Done, done, done. I want a gold star.

Well. I am have been reading this book for almost as long as I've been living in Europe, and I think it is a very good book for a new European to read. There is such a massive amount to learn here -- information about everything from social welfare to pop culture to political leaders to...everything. It's hard to throw 800+ pages of important basic facts and ideas at someone and have it read to beautifully, but Judt is kind of a brilliant writer.

Postwa
...more
Gordon
This was a remarkable read. Postwar is wide-ranging, full of fascinating details while still managing (for the most part) to keep the big picture in focus. The author had little choice but to be selective, so if there was less information on certain countries than I would have liked he can hardly be blamed. The occasional lapse into charged rhetoric is a somewhat bigger flaw, but it was rare enough not to seriously undermine either the information or entertainment value of his work. Finally, it ...more
Jonathan Biddle
This is a masterpiece of a book. Judt synthesizes history, philosophy, sociology, film, art, social memory theory, linguistics, political philosophy, and religion into one tour deforce on Europe after WWII. The astonishing fact is that he is at home in each of these fields. He gives off the air of a master-teacher who provides only the information that is necessary to further understanding yet withholds so much more.

This is one of those books that, although you "finished" it, the amount of info
...more
Halldór Thorgeirsson
This remarkable historian manages to paint a coherent picture of six decades of European history and makes it come alive. I appreciated his effort to move beyond purely political history to give insights into daily life, economic development and European integration. For my taste, he strikes a good balance between narrative and analysis, between big picture and interesting detail. He also makes effort to look across countries and period to extract understanding of trends. No history is (or shoul ...more
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16708
Born in 1948, Tony Judt was raised in the East End of London by a mother whose parents had immigrated from Russia and a Belgian father who descended from a line of Lithuanian rabbis. Judt was educated at Emanuel School, before receiving a BA (1969) and PhD (1972) in history from the University of Cambridge.

Like many other Jewish parents living in postwar Europe, his mother and father were secular,
...more
More about Tony Judt...
Ill Fares the Land The Memory Chalet Thinking the Twentieth Century Reappraisals: Reflections on the Forgotten Twentieth Century The Burden of Responsibility: Blum, Camus, Aron, and the French Twentieth Century

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“Post-national, welfare-state, cooperative, pacific Europe was not born of the optimistic, ambitious, forward-looking project imagined in fond retrospect by today's Euro-idealists. It was the insecure child of anxiety.” 1 likes
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