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Postwar: A History of Europe Since 1945

4.33  ·  Rating details ·  6,861 Ratings  ·  524 Reviews
Finalist for the Pulitzer Prize
Winner of the Council on Foreign Relations Arthur Ross Book Award
One of the New York Times' Ten Best Books of the Year

Almost a decade in the making, this much-anticipated grand history of postwar Europe from one of the world's most esteemed historians and intellectuals is a singular achievement. Postwar is the first modern history that covers
Paperback, 933 pages
Published September 5th 2006 by Penguin Books (first published October 18th 1999)
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Aug 20, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, economics
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
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
May 06, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
Dec 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
What an outstanding history book. Postwar probably covered the events and issues as well as I can imagine considering the massive scope of the subject. Well written, informative, thoughtful and maybe as good an attempt at being even handed as I can think of. Highly recommended.
Sep 23, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Jun 05, 2012 marked it as to-read
Been meaning to read this for years. Now seems a more auspicious time than ever.
Aug 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Jun 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
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,

Jan 06, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, europe, holocaust
This book is a real 'tour de force': incredibly balanced in its width, accurate in its general outlines and details, critical and lucid. Judt brings a reasonably classic political narrative of European history, but adds it with many socio-economic data and elements on mentality. All well supported by statistics, examples and quotations.
Yet there are also some weaknesses: Judt regularly settles personal scores, with the generation of May 68 for example, with the Third Way of Blair, with Mitterran
Patrick Brown
Aug 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
How does one review a book like this? It's like trying to review the sun. It's huge, everything revolves around it, and there times when it seems to fill up the sky.

Postwar is absolutely monumental. Not only is it a tremendous work of scholarship, but it also has a really great sense of humor. Judt throws shade on everyone from Marxists to ex-Nazis to the Sex Pistols to David Beckham. All of that and I learned a bunch of new words (autarkic! propitious! adumbrated!).

Why are you reading this re
Lazarus P Badpenny Esq
May 13, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Good Europeans, bad Europeans, and those with short memories
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.
Very thorough and impressive study of a very broad area/era in history. Filled in a lot of gaps in my historical knowledge.
Feb 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: european-history
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
Jan 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Europe's present era of political and economic stability has extended so long that few are alive who remember a different time in that continent's history. But prior to 1945, warfare, oppression and chaos - along with imperial largesse and ethnic diversity - were the historical norm for European societies. The twin calamities of World War I and World War II put an end to that old Europe once and for all. Out of the unfathomable death and destruction of these episodes an entirely new Europe was c ...more
Nov 13, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
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
Leonard Pierce
Feb 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
There are very few books that deserve the kind of reputation that "Postwar" has, but this one is considered a masterpiece for a reason. Judt was a brilliant historian, observer, and synthesizer of complex political movements, and this is his greatest work. Taking up immediately after the end of World War II, the book takes an astonishingly broad view of the post-war world, and though it focuses generally on the struggle between the Soviet satellites and the western world, and specifically on Eur ...more
Peter Mcloughlin
Second reading of Judt's Postwar. Judt gives a very detailed history of Europe reconstruction out of the ashes of WWII into a prosperous western and an east subdued by the Soviets both sides under the shadow of Superpower politics. Judt spends more time on developments inside the continent the cold war confrontation is veiw as an overlay to the inside story of European development over these decades while important to the narrative it is one of many things going on in postwar Europe. Judt spends ...more
Feb 18, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I got through about 2/5ths of this - on audible, and doubt I will finish it in the foreseeable future, since my 'car' time is now spent listening to music. The sections I listened to are, of course, very impressive, and cover the 1930s and 1940's, up to the death of Stalin.
Oct 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing
“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
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
Jun 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
My only issue is that it's probably longer than it needs to be - it often drags on with statistics and anecdotes that are interesting for the 1945-1970 period that I knew less about but feel overly pro-neoliberal to me for the portion of the book covering 1970 onwards. I need to read Hobsbawm's book on the postwar period now, since I'm guessing that it gives a more critical view of post-1970 neoliberal reforms
Andrew Carr
Jun 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
These days, most mentions of the post-war order in Europe seem to involve death. Either from the passing of the last historical links —such as Helmut Kohl this week— or references to the expected demise of the order’s signal creation, the European Union. Yet its achievements PostWar, as this remarkable book make clear, must stand as one of the great achievements and celebrations of life.

Spanning 60 years, 50 countries and 40 plus hours of audio book, Judt’s masterpiece is one of the most deeply
Lorenzo Berardi
Ok, this is a history book.
So let's introduce it with a fact: Tony Judt made it.

Who else would have been able to condensate sixty years of European history in 831 pages finding room enough to spend a whole paragraph on the likes of the football/soccer star David Beckham? ("an English player of moderate technical gifts but an unsurpassed talent for self-promotion" etc.).

And yet this book may be called huge, grand, impressive but not great. I would say that just like his compatriot Beckham, Judt
Aug 08, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Sep 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing
At the time I bought this book, about ten years ago, its author, Tony Judt, was a star professor at NYU, where I was in a "humanities" program. He has since died, but this book is quite the legacy. It's the best history I've ever read and I'm embarrassed that it's taken me so long to get to it. Despite its length, I zoomed through it in three weeks, that's how good it was.

Surprising, funny, infuriating—so many adjectives. But the main thing about Postwar is how comprehensive it is. Judt covers t
Apr 20, 2008 rated it it was ok
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
What does it mean to be European? Is it historical or a state of mind? Or is it determined by geography? And if it is, where does it begin? How far does it extend? How far West? Scotland? Ireland? Or how about Iceland? Or maybe Greenland. How far East? Or South? Is Latvia part of Europe? Or Turkey? And what about Malta? Or Cyprus? Is it membership in the EU that makes one European? If so, what does that say about Switzerland?

These and many other questions are discussed in Tony Judt's comprehensi
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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,
More about Tony Judt...
“Evil, above all evil on the scale practiced by Nazi Germany, can never be satisfactorily remembered. The very enormity of the crime renders all memorialisation incomplete. Its inherent implausibility—the sheer difficulty of conceiving of it in calm retrospect—opens the door to diminution and even denial. Impossible to remember as it truly was, it is inherently vulnerable to being remembered as it wasn't.” 3 likes
“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.” 3 likes
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