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Thinking the Twentieth Century

4.22  ·  Rating details ·  1,290 ratings  ·  168 reviews
The triumphant final book by Tony Judt, indomitable public critic and author of Postwar One of our most brilliant historians, Tony Judt brings the past century vividly to life in this unprecedented and original history. Structured as a series of intimate conversations between Judt and his friend and fellow historian Timothy Snyder, Thinking the Twentieth Century presents t ...more
Paperback, 432 pages
Published January 29th 2013 by Penguin Books (first published 2012)
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Pavlo I loved "Reappraisals," "Ill Fares the Land," and "Memory Chalet." "Postwar" was very good, too. Just started "Past Imperfect," so can't offer an…moreI loved "Reappraisals," "Ill Fares the Land," and "Memory Chalet." "Postwar" was very good, too. Just started "Past Imperfect," so can't offer an opinion yet.(less)
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4.22  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,290 ratings  ·  168 reviews

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Feb 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
I would have been content to slowly meander through this superb book were it twice its length, such is the sustained quality of the exchange between Tony Judt and Timothy Snyder throughout—one that took place after Judt's affliction with the ALS that would shortly take his life. The latter's mind, untouched by the disease's progression, remained an unbelievably organized and retentive storehouse of information gleaned from a life lived, studied, and reflected upon that had plenty worth being bro ...more
Mar 10, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Imagine yourself - an intelligent, well-educated reader, fully versed in the mad turns of this wicked century... careening from catstrophe to catastrophe... soaked in bad faith... and yet phantasms of promise... and you are spending a series of afternoons in the living room of man who is dying and who is nearly a genius -- and you converse -- or rather, he converses, holds court -- and you try to sound smart once and awhile -- and sometimes he lets you get away with it... and often not... and yo ...more
Rigging the past is the oldest form of knowledge control: If you have power over the interpretation of what went before (or can simply lie about it), the present and the future are at your disposal. So it is simple democratic prudence to ensure that the citizenry are historically informed.

This sort of text defies a review. Being a recorded and transcribed conversation, it requests a similar treatment. The nature of the book is that Tony Judt facing ALS was physically unable to write and instead
Feb 15, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, nonfiction
This is a dense, yet conversational view of the history of the 20th century and the modern world. Judt relates a personal story of his childhood and early life, and then uses this as a background for a broad historical view of the circumstances which shaped and defined modern Europe. Snyder, a fine historian in his own right, acts as a good counterpoint in this dialogue.

These include the actions and reactions of various radical ideologies (Fascism, communism, their differences), the motivations
May 05, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Unremittingly, almost oppressively brilliant. I want to re-read this book when I grow up.
Justin Evans
Jun 09, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: essays, history-etc
A very odd book for any number of reasons. The greatest cause of oddity is Timothy Snyder, who interviews Judt and edits his responses, while putting in a few words of his own, either when he has a particularly good thought, or when Judt's words need context. The oddness comes from the first third of the book, in which Judt repeatedly tells Snyder that being half Jewish isn't that important to him, and that Jewish history isn't that important when thinking about world affairs... and Snyder repea ...more
Vít Kotačka
Apr 05, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy
Tohle mohla být fantastická kniha! Obrovskou zásluhu, že tahle kniha vůbec vznikla má Timothy Snyder, jinak autor opusu Krvavé země. Bohužel, on je také původcem mého rozčarování. Ale než se k tomuto bodu dostanu, musím napsat něco ke kontexu, v kterém kniha vynikla.

Tony Judt byl historik a intelektuál světového formátu. Až teprve po přečtení téhle knihy jsem si uvědomil, že i v téhle oblasti jsou lidé podobných kvalit a významu jako třeba Albert Einstein ve fyzice, John Coltrane v jazzu, neb
Mar 06, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book records an extended series of discussions between two great historians - Tony Judt (who wrote Postwar and Tim Snyder, who wrote Bloodlands. The focus is clearly on Judt, who at the time had recently been diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and has since died. While Judt is the more distinguished of the two, Snyder is also a great scholar and a nearly perfect complement to Judt. The conversational format was chosen because Judt's disease is a progressive neurological disorder t ...more
Feb 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoirs, history
So the choice we face in the next generation is not or capitalism versus communism, or the end of history versus the return of history, but the politics of social cohesion, based along collective purposes, versus the erosion of society by the politics of fear.

And Judt argues that we need to do so based on a new project of defining what the United States' own values and goals are, not by looking to European social democracy for a set of institutions to import.

This is a wide ranging, and for me un
Georgina Koutrouditsou
Ο 20ος αιώνας είναι ένας αιώνας τόσο μακριά, αλλά και τόσο κοντά σε εμάς. Χαρακτηρίστηκε ως σύντομος από τον μεγάλο ιστορικό Έρικ Χομπσπμάουμ, καθώς συνέβησαν πολλά συγκλονιστικά γεγονότα μέσα σε λίγο χρονικό διάστημα. Άλλωστε μη ξεχνάμε ότι μόλις μέσα σε 89 χρόνια πραγματοποιήθηκαν δύο αιματηροί πόλεμοι και ένας Ψυχρός που επηρεάζει άτυπα ακόμα την καθημερινότητα μας. Το 1989 ο Φουκουγιάμα μίλησε για το τέλος της Ιστορίας, άραγε επαναλήφθηκε;

Είναι πολύ δύσκολο στην επιστήμη του χρόνου να οδηγού
When you read Tony Judt, you're not just reading history, you're being an invited into a whole world of ideas that you, Américain, didn't know anything about -- every time I read one of his books, I fill my notebook with new authors to read, almost invariably survivors or former fellow travelers of fascism, Stalinism, or both. Published post-mortem, these interviews/conversations/memoirs/whatever use personal history as a starting point, and then use that to discuss larger-scale trends in matter ...more
Joe Noteboom
Nov 06, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, history
Really interesting, full of ideas. To be sure, many of them probably went over my head. It seemed to be a pretty good survey of 20th century Europe from an intellectual perspective. I found the ongoing fascism/communism discussion to be the most valuable part of the book. Maybe for the first time, it really brought home for me the utter lack of attention paid to fascism as an ideology that was really attractive to a lot of smart people for a good chunk of time. As we grow up learning about the 2 ...more
Will Ansbacher
Oct 13, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It is another brilliant work -and very moving because it is his last - it takes the form of conversations with his friend Timothy Snyder because of course he was almost totally paralysed by that time. It's about the state of the world, Europe, the jews, islam. If "ill fares the land" was written for the young who hadn’t previously given the state of the world much thought, (Judt’s words, not mine) then this book is for the rest of us. But more than that, it is as close as we will ever get now t ...more
A historian's task:"to tell what is almost always an uncomfortable story and explain why the discomfort is part of the truth we need to live well and live properly. A well-organised society is one in which we know the truth about ourselves collectively, not one in which we tell pleasant lies about ourselves". - Tony Judt

Thinking the Twentieth Century, by Tony Judt, is a conversation between the author, and historian Timothy Snyder, as Tony Judt's life came to an end. Diagnosed with ALS, Judt and
Jun 11, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Tony Judt's final book is an extended conversation piece that is part autobiography and part history. Its title, an homage to the venerable Francois Furet's seminal work "Penser la Revolution Francaise", gives one an idea of its scope and aim. Sadly, it fails to live up to its own great expectations. The unusual format, introductory monologues by Judt about his life followed by questions and answers with co-author Timothy Snyder, is a refreshing change of pace but also makes the book hard to jud ...more
Ben Dutton
Feb 23, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The economic, political and social questions of how to form, run and maintain a culture are never going to go away. They were important questions two hundred years ago, and they are important questions today. Today they seem even more relevant: faced with a western economy that has still not recovered from a massive crash in 2008, and show no true signs of recovery, and where major wars are still being fought to bring this abstract concept of democracy to lands we feel need them.

Historian Tony J
This wouldn't be the best book for someone who has never read Tony Judt before but for anyone acquainted with any of the great man's work, it is a splendid compliment to whatever you have read. Judt was dying as he wrote this and the result is a magnificent summation of the outlines of his personal life and the depth and breadth of his intellectual interests. Judt had a great gift in that he could make you interested in anything thing that he had to say. His clear and thoughtful prose perfectly ...more
Jul 28, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very hard to follow the first 2/3 of this book, unless you're a history buff.. I am not.
However, the last 1/3 of this book is incredible.

It portrays the 20th Century through the mind of an intellectual who actually experienced it.
I now respect this man Tony Judt. Although, prior to this book I had never heard or read anything about him.

Interesting take-aways:

- We often take the notion that 'those in charge know best'. If we ever do question their stance, people say how could a commoner know bett
Nov 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Absolutely superb conversation between two of the leading historians of our age. Impossible to put down, every page sparkling with wit, insight and serious erudition.
Feb 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
synder and judt in conversation about world history and polisci in 20th and 21st century.
Filip Struhárik
Mar 19, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Veľmi dobré čítanie. Ale určite by som si mal knihu prečítať znova o pár rokov, keď vyrastiem a budem múdrejší.
Craig Werner
For readers who don't have a clear sense of the major political and economic cross-currents that shaped 20th century Europe and in a slightly less diredt way America, this is an excellent place to start. A set of extended conversations between European historians Timothy Snyder (best known for Bloodlands) and Tony Judt, who was living with ALS and could no longer write on his own, the book tracks the long and convoluted evolution of 19th century liberalism through socialism, communism (in its au ...more
May 19, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ideas
Amazon review:
Here is the final book of unparalleled historian Tony Judt. Where Judt’s masterpiece Postwar redefined the history of modern Europe by uniting the stories of its eastern and western halves, Thinking the Twentieth Century unites the century’s conflicted intellectual history into a single soaring narrative. The 20th century comes to life as the age of ideas - a time when, for good or for ill, the thoughts of the few reigned over the lives of the many. Judt presents the triumphs and t
H Wesselius
Jun 10, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A brilliant assessment of a liberal historian's career and thoughts. Tony Judt recently dies of ALS or Lou Gehrig's and spent several afternoons conversing with Timothy Snyder on his life and career. A picture emerges of a brilliant liberal minded historian and his views on history, government, society and the individual. The last chapter; the Banality of Good: Social Democrat, is not to be missed as he assess the modern post-89 world and constructs a view of opposing visions; fear vs collective ...more
What do you say if you nearly agree with everything in a book? Tony Judt was a Social Democrat and probably one on the left. He flirted and indeed studied the European strains of Marxism and ultimately found it wanting. This book is a sort of intellectual biography of Tony Judt. It is also a historical examination of the ideas that drove the 20th century. An excellent book but one perhaps that is not for young players.
Always intelligent and insightful but also there is a superb explanation of ma
Solid intellectual history of 20th and early 21st century, told through the lens of the life of historian and oped writer, Tony Judt. Judt's journey and views are explored in a series of conversations between him and historian Timothy Snyder.

Judt, who recently died, had ALS, so the collaboration with Snyder was one of the few ways that he could physically write this book.

Judt's political views are more... European than mine, so I disagree with him at times (often?). Still a really smart guy wit
May 20, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Still reading and learning, many new concepts, ideas, questioning previous ideas, seeing things in new ways.
An excellent book; I learned a lot.
Nov 11, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
An occasionally interesting and entertaining read, though like "Postwar", breaks down the closer it gets to the current day. Can't say I particularly recommend it, though - as the author basically admits in the postscript, he's not a particularly self-reflective person, and it shows through in many places here.
Zak Patten
Dec 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
For those with an interest in recent European history, in particular how ideas shaped that history, this conversation between the historians Timothy Snyder and the late Tony Judt is just magnificent. This book was part autobiography as Tony Jott had never written one and was sadly dying of ALS when the book was being created I listened to this as an audiobook read by the Englishman Ralph Cosham, who does a fine job with the material though I have to quibble with the editorial decision--presumabl ...more
Feb 12, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historie
Ideen er at få en mere direkte, interviewagtig historiebog om det tyvende århundrede. Der er en del om Judts personlige historie, som kontekstualiserer det øvrige. Og der er en slags samtale mellem Judt og Snyder. Resultatet er, at mange ting bliver lidt indforstået, og at mange sandheder/pointer kommer skarpt frem. Resultatet er også, at jeg har svært ved at følge argumenterne - de bliver ofte løsrevede, ikke gennemførte - og svært ved at tro ret meget på de "indsigter" jeg også mener at få.
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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,
“This is pluralism: not a synonym of relativism, but rather an antonym. Pluralism accepts the moral reality of different kinds of truth, but rejects the idea that they can all be placed on a single scale, measured by a single value.” 4 likes
“Those who got the twentieth century right, whether in anticipation [..] or as contemporary observations, had to be able to imagine a world for which there was no precedent.” 3 likes
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