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The Origins of Totalitarianism

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4.22  ·  Rating Details  ·  3,606 Ratings  ·  140 Reviews
The Origins of Totalitarianism is an indispensable book for understanding the frightful barbarity of the twentieth century. Suspicious of the inevitability so often imposed by hindsight, Hannah Arendt was not interested in detailing the "causes" that produced totalitarianism. Nothing in the nineteenth century -- indeed, nothing in human history -- could have prepared us fo ...more
MP3 CD, Unabridged, 2 pages
Published December 1st 2007 by Blackstone Audio (first published 1951)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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أحمد أبازيد Ahmad Abazed
من أهم الكتب التي قرأتها هذا العام، ولعله أكثر الكتب التي أطلت في تأملها والاقتباس منها ومراجعتها، ربما بحكم اعتقادي براهنية الظاهرة أو إرهاصاتها رغم عدم تحققها كدولة في تاريخنا (العربي الإسلامي) القديم أو الحديث، واستهلمت من الكتاب مقالي "أيديولوجيا الوهم: النزعة المؤامراتية وسردياتها"، كما أضاء لي جوانب عديدة لتفسير ظاهرة داعش (وبعض من غيرها)، سايكولوجيّاً وسوسيولوجيّاً وحركيّاً.
وحنه تبقى مثالاً نادراً وجميلاً حقّاً يتحدّى الزعم الذكوري –الواقعي غالباً- بلا إبداعية النساء، وهي مناسبة للتخلي ال
...more
Szplug
May 04, 2012 Szplug rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Way back when I read this, I recall being somewhat surprised at how few works she actually referenced in this tripartite tome, especially in the latter two sections on Imperialism and Totalitarianism; and, for the first of these, the surprise turned to incredulity when it occurred to me that she appeared to be basing a considerable part of her argument—virtually the entirety regarding the interaction between Europe and Sub-Saharan Africa, IIRC—upon the most famous fictional work by Joseph Conrad ...more
Rob
Nov 25, 2007 Rob rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who have already read 1000 european history books but haven't read this yet, i.e. nobody
certainly in the running for the most disappointing book ever. first, it's on all these lists of the greatest books ever, plus it's got a really high rating on goodreads. plus i open it and the first few pages are breathtaking. hannah is one killer sentencecrafter. a vixen of prose. some sentences 50+ words long but you only need to read them once because they are both precise and action-packed. and oh, the promise her intros seem to hold. bold, sweeping strokes that wipe out long-held beliefs a ...more
Neal Romanek
Jan 21, 2011 Neal Romanek rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'd always assumed totalitarianism and dictatorship were the same thing. But nope. I learned more about modern politics and power reading this masterpiece by Hannah Arendt than in the past 20 years of reading and studying. I was shocked to find that certain baffling features of contemporary political movements suddenly make perfect, terrifying sense when viewed from a totalitarian perspective.

Some fun things I learned about totalitarian movements:

-Totalitarian movements deny objective reality a
...more
Tony
Jan 24, 2009 Tony rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Arendt, Hannah. THE ORIGINS OF TOTALITARIANISM. (1951). ****. Arendt was a well-known intellectual and teacher of political philosophy, and wrote several key books and papers expressing her views and analysis of, among other things, Nazi Germany. In this book – the seminal work on it’s topic – she created an instant classic and a definitive study of this political movement. The book is divided into three main parts: Antisemitism, Imperialism, and Totalitarianism. Her thesis, ultimately, is that ...more
Lucian McMahon
Apr 03, 2014 Lucian McMahon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A truly haunting work. I don't even know what to say to give it justice. You have to read it for yourself. And weep, because Arendt opens up the totalitarian box and out pours all the insanity and absurdity of man with all his inhuman potential.
11811 (Eleven)
Feb 26, 2016 11811 (Eleven) rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This is so incredibly boring. Maybe anything with this many footnotes is supposed to be but I can't continue punishing myself with it. DNF at 40%. I did skim to the end and, spoiler alert, Hitler loses.
Maggie
Apr 11, 2010 Maggie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
this book was (first) published in 1951, written by a BRILLIANT thinker (who happens to have been a woman) who spanned the 20th century (1906-1975), and covers THE essential topic of that century: the origin of national and international horrors and the political systems/ideas that supported such untoward horror.

thus far the 21st century is inheriting this way of politics. this book (amazingly and really) answers so many questions that it is mind-boggling at the sheer number of insights and the
...more
Jonathon
Aug 28, 2015 Jonathon rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: partially-read
Apparently I am too stupid to understand Totalitarianism, especially this bore fest. Which is scary considering I probably wouldn't have a clue if I was living in a Totalitarian system or not...whatever. I want a burger. And pizza. Burger pizza?

Anyways, I started reading the first few chapters and could not believe how mind numbingly boring and academic it is. I would much rather live under a Totalitarian regime than having to read another chapter of this. That's how bored I am! Give me the Gul
...more
Jon-Erik
So far, I'm finding this interesting, though it suffers from many of the same defects that philosophers encounter when writing about history. For example, relying on portrayals in novels is not evidence. Not about popular history, not about the "zeitgeist" whatever that is.

It's things like that that make me nervous that the conclusions based on these weak propositions are false. Also, there is a powerful dose of Marxist philosophy of history here, which I don't reject because it's Marxist, but
...more
Dylan Suher
Mar 07, 2011 Dylan Suher rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Her views on Anti-Semitism are mostly what my grandfather would have called "German Jewish thinking" and whenever she writes about America or Africa, it's frankly embarrassing. But when she's talking about European pre-war politics, she's absolutely on point. She has great insight into the basic human impulses at the heart of the great evils of the 20th century, insights which I found useful even when thinking about the Tea Party Movement. I found myself nostalgic (a blessedly rare mode for me) ...more
Paul Dinger
Jun 17, 2013 Paul Dinger rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an interesting case study of Hitler's Germany and Stalin's Soviet Union, which takes into account not just their anti semitism, but also their use of propaganda, the 'big lie' which just gets bigger and bigger. This book though is really about the weapons that any government can use against it's people. I read into this lots of what Noam Chomsky was talking about in his book Failed States, she outlines every major point he put across. This book is also interesting history, written as it ...more
Corey
Apr 10, 2016 Corey rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I found this at a used bookstore, knowing nothing about the book or the author, but willing to fork over $1.50 to learn more. It's been both a challenge and a delight to read, and in light of this election cycle, disturbingly apropos. Some reviewers recommend skipping the two sections on antisemitism and imperialism. Heed them not. Skipping the tough bits is for wimps, and you'll be thankful for the foundation when you get to those final chapters.
Andrew
Aug 04, 2010 Andrew rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was required reading in a political science course of mine in college. This book is incredible and one of the most intelligent reads anyone could ever pick up. Arrendt gives the definitive history of the rise of anti-semitism, and the Nazi and Russian totalitarian states. You want to understand the world we live in today, history like this is something you must read.
Josh Friedlander
A strange, impressive, dizzyingly ambitious book. Is it political science? History? Sociology? Arendt's eclectic skill reflects a vanished age of academic versatility, and a very healthy estimation of her own ability. Drawing together classical and literary references, crowd psychology, and a broad historical view, she describes the origins of anti-Semitism as a political movement in Central Europe, the political ramifications of the decline and rise of the bourgeoisie, and the ways in which tot ...more
Jessica Keener
Aug 01, 2011 Jessica Keener rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book unequivocally helped me understand how things like genocide can and do happen. Timeless. One of the most important book of the last century.
Ari
Nov 28, 2014 Ari rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had mixed feelings here. I learned things from the book -- it has a number of insights that strike me as interesting and important -- but I'm worried I also learned a lot that isn't true. Disclaimer: I skipped through most of the first two parts ("Anti-semitism" and "Imperialism"), to get to the part I was really interested in, "Totalitarianism".

I had expected this to be a work of analytic history, chronicling the rise and operation of the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany. It is not. This is prim
...more
david-baptiste
May 24, 2008 david-baptiste rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves:
I just begin this, which have wanted to read for a very long time.
Not surprisingly, one finds descriptions and analyses and brilliant insights in here, not only regarding the Nazis and Stalinists, but the situation of today in the USA, in which new forms of the Totalitarian are steadily under construction for several decades now.
It is interesting that Zizek, for example, who was on Democracy Now this week, has signalled in his new book For lost Causes, that what is necessary now is not the fur
...more
W. C.
Aug 01, 2007 W. C. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What to say about Arendt? She is one of those authors who intrigues as much as she frustrates, which means that there is something important going on. And although many in the continental tradition now reject many of Arendt’s theories, you will see this text crop up again and again as the one with insight into the nature of totalitarianism and its genealogy (although historians generally reject many aspects of her analysis).

What is particularly important about this text, I think, is the level t
...more
Guy Cranswick
Oct 21, 2013 Guy Cranswick rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the greatest books written in the last 100 years for a number of reasons. It is superbly crafted; her writing is an instruction and a delight on the expertly written sentence with sophisticated way of presenting arguments and balancing them. Her erudition is displayed but not vulgar. She expects the reader to know German, French and Latin as the quotes are not translated.
The thesis is cogent and though some shallow minds would wish for empirical evidence and foot notes like a common acad
...more
Gonçalo Rosete
Sep 13, 2015 Gonçalo Rosete rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It is such a impressive work about comparison between Nazism and Stalinism.
Mark Valentine
Feb 14, 2016 Mark Valentine rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I know this book (now that I have finally read it) to be, sincerely, a monumentally important non-fiction work of the 20th Century.

First, her writing style: She came to English late in life. Her native tongue was German and she learned to write philosophy under the tutelage of Heidegger. She also was fluent in Greek and Latin, then French, and only English when she emigrated to the U. S. in 1941. Here sentences have the Germanic richness; long, organic, fluid, full, meandering sentences that ca
...more
Mark Valentine
Jan 17, 2016 Mark Valentine rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I know this book (now that I have finally read it) to be, sincerely, a monumentally important non-fiction work of the 20th Century.

First, her writing style: She came to English late in life. Her native tongue was German and she learned to write philosophy under the tutelage of Heidegger. She also was fluent in Greek and Latin, then French, and only English when she emigrated to the U. S. in 1941. Here sentences have the Germanic richness; long, organic, fluid, full, meandering sentences that ca
...more
David Beeson
Apr 26, 2014 David Beeson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The three parts of the book are like three great tributaries that flow together into the river on which Hannah Arendt sails to explain the forces that allow totalitarianism to emerge. She covers anti-Semitism, Imperialism and finally Totalitarianism itself. The Origins of Totalitarianism is a tour de force which, despite a sometimes ponderous style (but English was not her first language) and some extravagant leaps of logic in detail (conclusions that aren't always plausible consequences of the ...more
Cory
May 09, 2016 Cory rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
While the book is an invigorating discussion of totalitarianism and anti-semitism/racism/the Holocaust, it would have been much superior if it had involved any historical work to begin with. Largely, Arendt substitutes opinion and supposition and provides little evidence for her claims. It's not even clear what these are much of the time. This makes the book very hard to follow and lowers its value immensely.

For instance, she discusses "the mob" and "the masses" as though they were well-defined
...more
Lysergius
May 30, 2013 Lysergius rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: politics
An exhaustive and thorough exploration of totalitarianism using the Nazi and the Soviet models as a basis for explanation.

Much of what happened in Europe from 1930 in Russia and 1933 in Germany becomes clear to the reader as Arendt expands her argumentation. Touching upon such issues as the Pan-Germanic and Pan-Slavic movements and the concept of statelessness this massive work traces the development of every aspect of the totalitarian phenomenon.

A truly enlightening piece of work.
Xdyj
Nov 22, 2014 Xdyj rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, o, fa
It is overall very well written and readable, and Arendt's analysis of the history of Europe from early modern times to WWII is quite insightful & interesting, esp. in the way she combines class analysis with a deep appreciation of some classical republican ideal of civic virtue. Some of her speculations may seem a bit dated or premature in hindsight. Overall it is no less relevant today than it was 60 years ago b/c most of the phenomena it deals with are still with us.
Mark Noack
A great book with some serious problems. I'll mention just the two most obvious to give you an idea where I am coming from. There are others less serious.

The first & foremost, in my opinion, is Arendt's constant conflation of social Darwinism with (biological) Darwinism (or natural selection.) She has a good deal to say about "Darwinism," while never actually quoting or talking about Darwin, & nothing she says has anything to do with the process of natural selection. The human race side
...more
Azis Mutaqin
Melewati keganasan sangkar besi di jerman yang sudah tidak bisa diterimanya lagi.berimigran ke wilayah prancis yang sempat terendus oleh nazi.merupakan perjalanan kegelisahan arendt.Banalitas dan kebebasan yang diprivatisasi dan mnejadi milik publik.Arend menuangkanya lewat Origin of totaliterian
Marcus Vinicius
May 15, 2016 Marcus Vinicius rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Totalitarianism is a human enterprise difficult to explain but possible to comprehend. This work of Hannah Arendt helps the reader in understanding this human "achievement". Pure and absolute evil doesn't appear suddenly, it has its roots in history. Arendt examines the genesis and the development of anti-Semitism and imperialism in the first two parts of this work. Its characteristics and history are well explained in order to relate them to totalitarianism. Arendt has a talent to relate the pi ...more
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Goodreads Librari...: Incorrect Publication Date 3 18 Dec 08, 2014 07:01PM  
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  • Main Currents of Marxism: The Founders, the Golden Age, the Breakdown
  • The Psychic Life of Power: Theories in Subjection
  • Russian Thinkers
  • Natural Right and History
  • The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere: An Inquiry Into a Category of Bourgeois Society
  • One-Dimensional Man: Studies in the Ideology of Advanced Industrial Society
  • The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte
  • The Age of Empire, 1875-1914
  • Did Someone Say Totalitarianism?: 5 Interventions in the (Mis)Use of a Notion
  • Lectures at the College de France, 1975-76: Society Must Be Defended
  • A Critique of Postcolonial Reason: Toward a History of the Vanishing Present
12806
Hannah Arendt (1906–1975) was one of the most influential political philosophers of the twentieth century. Born into a German-Jewish family, she was forced to leave Germany in 1933 and lived in Paris for the next eight years, working for a number of Jewish refugee organisations. In 1941 she immigrated to the United States and soon became part of a lively intellectual circle in New York. She held a ...more
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“Caution in handling generally accepted opinions that claim to explain whole trends of history is especially important for the historian of modern times, because the last century has produced an abundance of ideologies that pretend to be keys to history but are actually nothing but desperate efforts to escape responsibility.” 31 likes
“One of the greatest advantages of the totalitarian elites of the twenties and thirties was to turn any statement of fact into a question of motive.” 11 likes
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