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On Revolution

4.01 of 5 stars 4.01  ·  rating details  ·  927 ratings  ·  50 reviews
Tracing the gradual evolution of revolutions since the American and French examples, Arendt predicts the changing relationship between war and revolution and the crucial role such combustive movements will play in the future of international relations.
Paperback, 352 pages
Published February 8th 1991 by Penguin Classics (first published 1956)
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Hadrian


"It is too early to say."
-Zhou Enlai (1898-1976), when asked on the implications of the French Revolution

Given the number of uprisings, rebellions, and revolutions which have sprung up over the past years, (not to mention one this week), it would be fair to give them their proper attention. Hannah Arendt focuses her study in a history and comparative analysis of three revolutions: the American, the French, and the Russian.

Revolution, like war, is violent. If we speak broadly and use 'revolution'
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Fatema Hassan , bahrain


" سوء الفهم يجعل العالم يدور " مقولة لازمتني خلال شهور قرائتي لهذا الكتاب ، فبيننا وبين العالم سوء فهم كبير يجعلنا في حالة حراك متمرد وثوري معه ، نحن نسعى لنزيل سوء الفهم هذا ؛ الأمر المثير للسخرية أننا ونحن نحاول إزالته .. نحن نخلق سوء الفهم من جديد !

الباحثة السياسية و الفيلسوفة الأمريكية من أصل يهودي ألماني " حنة آرندت " المتهمة بمعاداة السامية إثر كتابتها ل " إيخمان في القدس " وهو عبارة عن تحقيق حول قضية الضابط النازي إيخمان المتهم ب ارتكابه قضايا قتل جماعي بحق اليهود وعنونة تقرير الكتاب الف
...more
Mamdouh Abdullah
أمضيت سنوات كثيرة من عمري، بالتحديد: ثلاثين سنة، في دراسة الشر !
حنة أرندت

حنة أرندت، فيلسوفة أمريكية من أصل ألماني. ولدت عام 1906 وتوفيت 1975. تخصصت في الفلسفة في جامعة مدينة ماربورغ، وخلال الدراسة ارتبطت بعلاقة غرامية مع الفيلسوف الألماني مارتن هيدغر. اضطرت إلى ترك ماربورغ، لأن هايدغر الذي اعتبرته ملكاً خاصا في مملكة التفكير، كان متزوجاً في محيط كاثوليكي محافظ، لتكمل دراستها عند الفيلسوف كارل ياسبرز في جامعة هايدلبرغ، التي قدمت فيها أطروحة الدكتوراه عام 1928. جاءت صدمة وصول النازيين إلى الحكم في
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Sean Chick
Hannah Arendt was a much more perceptive critic of the French Revolution than Burke, although she had the virtue of hindsight. In On Revolution (1963), Arendt made the provocative claim that the American Revolution was actually more ambitious than the French Revolution, although it failed to set the world ablaze. On Revolution is a work of dichotomies. Arendt claimed that the French Revolution was a struggle over scarcity and inequality, while the American Revolution was quest to secure politica ...more
blake
As difficult as The Human Condition (see my review), and it takes longer to pick up steam. Luckily though, Arendt keeps the momentum building until the end, starting around Chapter 3. Overall, Arendt spends too long discussing abstract philosophical ideas and linguistic origins and not enough time discussing the practical distinctions among revolutions, and what makes them work or fail. When she does this, the book becomes much more interesting, although any enjoyment is still hampered by the al ...more
Josh
Brilliant and unexpected -- focuses on French and American revolutions to explore not what revolutions have been historically so much as what they were intended as, or ought to be. Her argument is that revolutions are essentially political events, that are sidelined by the need to address the immediate concerns of the poor through redistribution. The unique success of the American revolution was due, first, to the "natural abundance" of America, which allowed the revolution here to complete its ...more
Timmy Stolz
Spoiler: Arendt thinks the American Revolution was better than the French Revolution because the American Revolution focused solely on political rather than social issues.

It is a rather controversial thesis, for it assumes and glosses over much of what we know behind the American Revolution, but it also assumes the binary between that which we call political and that which we call social. A messy binary indeed.

In the end, the best part of the book is her critique of historical and political tele
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Nuno
This book is about the American and French Revolutions of the XVIIIth century , always with an eye on the Ancient Greeks and the Roman Republic . The Russian Revolution appears once in a while , but only once in a while . The main characters are : John Adams , Thomas Jefferson , Montesquieu , Rousseau , Robespierre , and fellows . The book is full of quotes and notes , and the quotes of John Adams are the best ones . Adams was the second president of USA . I don't know his writings , but looking ...more
Ian Rogers
I really enjoy Arendt's writing - accessible, thorough, and incredibly in-depth. My only complaint about this book is that it focuses specifically on the US and French revolutions to the point of exclusivity, and I think that many of the points that she makes in comparing the two could have been well-served by exploring other revolutions like Russia, China, and Cuba. In this sense it's a bit unnecessarily Cartesian in tone, which saddens me as Arendt is certainly capable of comparing and contras ...more
Paul
"The momentous role that hypocrisy and the passion for its unmasking came to play in the later stages of the French Revolution, though it may never cease to astound the historian, is a matter of historical record. The revolution, before it proceeded to devour its own children, had unmasked them, and French historiography, in more than a hundred and fifty years, has reproduced and documented all these exposures until no one is left among the chief actors who does not stand accused, or at least su ...more
Josh
It is a must read for all Leftist, and especially Anarchists. I am so happy I read this. I need to read more by her. It gives so much more depth to thoughts I've already thought. Way more depth. It also sheds light on organizations and I found it interesting to apply the ideas to the establishing of authority and community ethics at Apro. It is making me think politically in a new way, and I'm grateful to have read this in South Africa right around election time 15 years post-liberation.

John Doe
Arendt argues that the American revolution is not sufficiently understood, and that contemporary events are all too often styled after the french revolution which was a failure. Arendt believes the American revolution was a success because it established political, rather than social, equality in America.
Chris
I've forgotten all but the basics on the American Revolution and know very little about the French Revolution, so am not well qualified for a critical review of Arendt's theory. I will say that this is a book of many profound ideas that will persist in the way I think about government and philosophy. These include, working with more precise definitions of power, authority and violence as well as considering the distinction between political freedom and civil liberties. Arendt has moments of pith ...more
Alkhansaa
مبهورة جداً بالكتاب لدرجة اني لا أعرف ماذا أقول عنه :)
Shoshi
صعب قليلا لكن ممتع ؛

كتب الفلسفة اجمالا اجد فيها صعوبة
Mike Polizzi
Arendt's portrayal of the energies, thoughts and conditions that poured into the American and the French Revolutions was illuminating. Her analysis of why the conditions of the American Revolution bred a certain stability while the French Revolution did not extends elegantly through the further case studies of 20th century state-craft and post-colonial collapses. I'd be interested to see her analyze the Civil Rights era in the US in relation to the American Revolution as well as how revolution i ...more
اسلام
يا ريت تقروا الكتاب ده يا جماعه
Rianor
How come this isn't one of the most influential books of 20th century is a mystery to me. It deals with two major political events of modern time and tries to put them in modern perspective. Every political issue of our time can be traced back to those as Arendt diligently describes. For the beginning is thought to be more than half of the whole, as old adage quoted by Aristotle says. This is no small feat and this work should be very important for society movements that awaits us.

Style is very
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Virginia
Hannah Arendt is a wonderful author and her commentary on revolutions does not disappoint.
I will admit that it's a bit hard to get through this book on occasion (she uses a lot of phrases that are not translated from their original language) but her comparison of the French Revolution and the American Revolution does cause a lot of thinking.
It raises the question of what exactly a revolution is .
Rose
I found it kind of hard to rate this book, but I decided on 4 stars in the end because it was interesting, well written and pointed out some interesting questions. I don't necessarily agree with everything Arendt claims, but it has made me see politics in a slightly different light, mainly because I've always seen democracy in the form of part politics as a given, and never heard much about alternative system (other than having a monarchy).
Jonathan Norton
This is mostly a comparative study of the American and French revolutions, and Arendt tries to discern the reasons why the former succeded and the latter didn't (the Russian revolutions are seen as essentially recapitulating the failures of the French model). The ideas of the Founding Fathers are compared with what they claimed to be their classical inspirations, and divergences pointed out. In view of the recent breakdown of confidence between Congress and the President it is possible that the ...more
سلمان
من أهم كتب حنة آرندنت..نسختي من منشورات المنظمة العربية للترجمة.
عيبها الكبير -هذه الدار- المقدمة المبالغ فيها في جميع اصداراتهم!
Autumn Waddell
Didn't get to finish before my course work ended, but a superb look at the nature of revolution.
Nell
I could be embarrassed that this took me almost two years, but instead I chose joy. As a total novice in the world of political science (and gulp, history?), I struggled: it took a thousand mile bike trip with this as my only companion, many miles and many maps to reach the end, but by the last chapter I was cruising. Arendt's helping me use a historical perspective to think about the Occupy movement, a framework I found lacking in the blogroll accounts this fall.
Anna
Two revolutions in two different countries and their analysys done by Hannah Arendt. She tried to show differences between French Revolution (1789 - 99) and American Revolution (the end of 18th century) to explain what is the revolution itself, what differes it from war, what purposes it has to have to not suffer failure like French Revolution and later revolutions from 19th and 20th centuries, which were using its experience.
Jessica
It's like 20% amazing and 80% slog, but I learned a lot so rating it 4 stars.

I did find it problematic though, that Arendt makes statements like this "the American Revolution... occurred in a country which knew nothing of the predicament of mass poverty and among a people who had a widespread experience of self-government" but doesn't once mention the systematic political disenfranchisement of women and people of color.
Linda
The style makes it a bit of a slog tbh.

As to the ideas, they're interesting. I've never known much about the American revolution and my knowledge of the French revolution from my obsession with it in highschool has faded but I feel that a lot of the broad strokes that she makes aren't quite right, and that it would be a better book if it the comparisons between French and American revolutions were less abstract.
Brian Smith
This is the most breathtaking comparative analysis of the American and French revolutions. Not only is she a competent historian, but her ability to extrapolate and make sense of how we currently conceive of the idea "revolution" makes Arendt's insight invaluable. If you have time for only one chapter, I strongly recommend "The Revolutionary Tradition and Its Lost Treasure."
Inger
Wieso kommt sie nicht auf den Punkt?
Buch langatmig und verworren.

Sicher eine wichtige Person, sollte man mal lesen. Aber vielleicht nur wenn man es für irgendwas braucht.

English:
Why can't she get to the point?
Book lengthy and convoluted.

Certainly an important person, you should read times. But perhaps only if you need it for something.
Charles M. Rupert
This is a truly great book that explores freedom from its negative as well as positive aspect. It demonstrates the interwoven nature of economics, poverty, politics, and government structure. As well as suggesting the ultimate failure of most popular government: that law cannot check power, only power can check power.
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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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“When an old truth ceases to be applicable, it does not become any truer by being stood on its head.” 13 likes
“Revolutions are the only political events which confront us directly and inevitably with the problem of beginning.” 12 likes
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