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Postwar: A History of Europe Since 1945 | [Tony Judt]

Postwar: A History of Europe Since 1945

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 all of Europe, both east and west, drawing on research in six languages to sweep readers through 34 nations and 60 years of political and cultural change—all in one integrated, enthralling narrative.
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Publisher's Summary

A Finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and Named One of the Ten Best Books of the Year by the New York Times Book Review.

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 all of Europe, both east and west, drawing on research in six languages to sweep listeners through 34 nations and 60 years of political and cultural change—all in one integrated, enthralling narrative. Both intellectually ambitious and compelling to read, thrilling in its scope and delightful in its small details, Postwar is a rare joy.

Tony Judt (1948–2010), the author of 11 books, was Erich Maria Remarque professor of European studies at New York University and director and founder of the Remarque Institute.

©2005 Tony Judt (P)2010 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

What the Critics Say

“A book that has the pace of a thriller and the scope of an encyclopedia…A very considerable achievement…Brilliant." (New York Review of Books)

“Remarkable…. The writing is vivid; the coverage—of little countries as well as of great ones—is virtually superhuman.” (The New Yorker)

“Massive, kaleidoscopic, and thoroughly readable…[Judt’s] book now becomes the definitive account of Europe’s rise from the ashes and its takeoff into an uncertain future.” (Time)

What Members Say

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  •  
    History Princeton Junction, NJ, United States 10-18-11
    History Princeton Junction, NJ, United States 10-18-11
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    "Great book, but not terrific listening"

    I thought this a really excellent analytical look at post-WWII European history. This isn't straight history, it is historical analysis. The author has a point of view and he isn't shy about sharing it.

    That being said, it is way too long and complex for audio to be its best vehicle. Yes, you can listen to it, but no, it wouldn't be my first choice. Lacking access to an index or the ability to flip back and reread a section to establish a context for what the author is currently discussing, I couldn't get as much out of this as I would have liked.

    Well written and competently read, there are obvious edits and issues with consistent recording levels that are unacceptable and should be fixed.

    The narrator is good, not exceptional. It's definitely worth your time ... but read it in print too.

    30 of 31 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mike From Mesa 07-30-12 Member Since 2014

    MikeFromMesa

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    "An intellectual's history"

    Having grown up in the period following the Second World War and having read a great deal about world events during this period I assumed that I knew most of what would be covered by this book but thought that a British view of European history might be both more interesting and more informed than what I had read previously and hence worth reading. I had no idea how little of what this book covers I actually knew.

    I have read many history books covering Europe since the Napoleonic Wars and expected this book to be written in a similar way – an accent on political events, the effect of new weapons on policy and the impact of world leaders on the events in their respective nations as well as those around them. I was both disappointed and pleased to find that this book is a very different type of history. World shaping events, such as the fall of communism and the liberation of the Eastern European nations from the Soviet grip, were covered relatively quickly (the decade of the fall of communism’s power over Eastern Europe was covered in one chapter) while extensive coverage is given to the intellectual basis for and philosophies of the pro-communist and anti-American movements. While some of the wars of the period are covered (for example the British, French and Israeli war against Egypt and the war after the breakup of Yugoslavia) these type of events do not seem to be the main area of interest for Mr Judt.

    Some examples of subjects covered by this book are the intellectual's blindness to Stalin’s terror, the large numbers of displaced persons left at the end of the Second World War and the resulting "ethnic cleansing" that took place with the cooperation of the Allies, the origins of and comparisons between the Social Democratic systems in Scandinavia, the spreading role of government in culture and the arts and the expanding role of European theaters and film. Mr Judt’s argument seems to be that these events and trends had much to do with the new shape that Europe was taking after the end of the war. I can only concur and think that the view of history that I had before reading this book was too narrow and simple.

    This is a very opinionated book. Much of what is presented as fact seems to be largely opinion. One example would be Mr Judt’s snide references to those who doubted the ability of the southern European nations to control their expenses enough to properly qualify for entry to the Euro zone. He sneered at those concerns and spoke of the financial probity of these nations, but we know now, of course, that he was completely wrong. It was not his being wrong that bothered me but rather his sneering reference to those who turned out to be right. Another example is his off-hand dismissal of Margaret Thatcher and her views with no facts presented to buttress his statements.

    Another thing to keep in mind is that this book was written by a British author and so the book contains a large number of British terms with which the reader may be unfamiliar. Examples are use of the world valve instead of tube, use of the phrase “put paid to”, the British value of thousand billion instead of trillion, the phrase "plastic macs" and so on. Another concern is the use of French, German and Italian phrases with no English translations with the view, I assume, that anyone intelligent enough to read this book would know the languages in question.

    Still, in spite of all, I think this is a book well worth reading. The narration is first class and I would recommend it to those who would like to know more about the post war development of the modern Europe as explained by someone without a US world view.

    15 of 16 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Archie 01-12-12
    Archie 01-12-12 Member Since 2005
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    "A required book for history buffs."

    You may, or may not, agree with everything that the late Tony Judt wrote but this book is an incredible tour de force.

    Monumental in length - 43 hours in the narration and beautifully read - this book is a must.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Edie Gormet Caliornia 09-23-12
    Edie Gormet Caliornia 09-23-12 Member Since 2008
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    "Postwar,A History of Europe since 1945"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Postwar: A History of Europe Since 1945 to be better than the print version?

    I can't say. I get all my books as audio books now, I commute 4-5 hours a day and it is the thing that makes the commute bearable. My husband is going to read the book. I can say that one advantage to having a paper copy is to make notes.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Postwar: A History of Europe Since 1945?

    There were numerous moments throughout the book that were memorable. I would also say that the overall message was riveting. I definitely believe this book should be required reading in High School and/or college. And, in assessing the status of today's world it would seem we have continued to set in motion a perpetuation of self destruction.


    What do you think the narrator could have done better?

    The narrators voice was often grating on my nerves and boring to listen to.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    War and Greed


    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jeremy NEW YORK, NY, United States 11-22-12
    Jeremy NEW YORK, NY, United States 11-22-12 Member Since 2012

    This is the kind of styles I like: good pace, cerebral, well-documented, meaty, mind-bending.

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    "Long book, does not get old"

    I am not sure why I bought this book. The history of western Europe after the war does not exactly seem the most fun to hear portion of human history; in fact, one would expect a lot of economic numbers about what Europe rebuild while all of the interesting historical stuff was happening in Russia, the US or in Asia.

    Certainly true, western Europe is not just economic growth but there was a lot going on at the time. First, these were the times were the foundations of the European Union were put into place. As a French, I always took that as a given and view the Germans as some of the friendliest in Europe (certainly more than the French). Nothing like that post-war, I did not know that, even in the fifties and sixties, the German government acted to stop the prosecution of known nazis or that a third of Germans had favorable views of Hitler (of course, that's very different now!). Second, I did not realize the general cultural boom all across Europe, specially given the current constant hammering of American pop culture in modern Europe. Third, there is a lot of dark history to be learnt from eastern Europe and its complete abandonment by the western countries.

    The greatness of the book is the material is delivered in a very lively manner, in a way that is very accessible to a history layman. The only possible cost of this is that the economic history has certainly taken the back seat, and (while this is just my opinion) it seems that most of western history is due to politicians rather than the evermore inter-connected business world.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kindle Customer 05-04-11 Member Since 2010
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    "Sweeping, Impressive, Long"

    This was a great book summarizing history, politics and economy in Europe since 1945. At times more detail than you might care for on a particular subject, but well written and well narrated. I have given up on other audiobooks with similar level of detail, but enjoyed this one greatly. If you like Jared Diamond, you will like Tony Judt.

    8 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Peregrine Los Angeles, CA, United States 05-10-11
    Peregrine Los Angeles, CA, United States 05-10-11 Member Since 2015

    If it weren't for Audible I'd never get any reading done.

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    "Yes it's long???deal with it."

    Postwar brilliantly and effectively traces how Europe rose from the rubble and death of WWII to become an imperfect but well-functioning community today. The tone is hard-nosed but surprisingly positive and optimistic. Judt had a reputation for a left-wing viewpoint, but in this book he does not have any ax to grind. He is, however, especially hard on nations (especially France) that weaseled their way out of responsibility for the Holocaust.

    Narrator Ralph Cosham is terrific, despite an overuse of a pause-and-raised-eyebrows intonation for Judt's numerous 'scare' quotes.

    7 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rodney Florida 03-18-12
    Rodney Florida 03-18-12 Member Since 2015
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    "Very good book"

    Honestly I just didn't know that much about post WWII history in Europe until recently and this was part of learning about that period, about how Europe was rebuilt and how we got to where we are today.

    I'm giving the book 5-stars, if you have even a passing interest in this period you should pick-up this book without giving it another thought.

    With that said let me offer some mild criticism -- these should not keep you from purchasing the book but there were a few things I could have done without.

    The author is by no means anti-American but almost seems to suffer from a really rare strain of not really giving a care. This I must say is rare since generally Europeans are so arrogant and snobish about America you just assuming anything to do with the US will be negative in todays post-USSR world. This is not the case. The author doesn't blame every bad thing that happens in Europe on America -- but he also doesn't really give America credit for anything either. It really seems that the further you go back the more neutral the stance is, as the book gets closer to today it gets a bit more cold towards the US including taking swipes (not shots to be clear) at Reagan basically discounting his role in bringing down the Soviet Union. This is annoying in my mind but wasn't done in an offensive way -- he wasn't bashing but it's pretty obvious he wasn't a fan of Reagan or Thatcher. At the same time he does a great job of explaining how people in the eastern block lived and how communists ruled, which means it's a pretty negative take on that.

    So in total this book is very balanced and works extremely well as a modern history.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Annika Sweden 03-13-14
    Annika Sweden 03-13-14
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    "Impossible to see the wood for the trees"
    Where does Postwar: A History of Europe Since 1945 rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    Tedious enumeration of too many unnecessary facts and sentences full of subclauses reiterating the obvious, makes this very tiresome listening. It is impossible to get an overview, and the text is also rather devoid of interesting insights . ( In other words, a typical example of the unfortunate style of history writing so often emanating from the tutorial system at Oxbridge.) Would suggest pretty much any American account of the same period, eg Lewis Gaddis.

    The reading is uninspiring and monotone.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Chris Pearland, Texas, United States 01-12-14
    Chris Pearland, Texas, United States 01-12-14 Member Since 2012

    I teach high school physics and read/listen to books in my free time. My favorite genres are history, sci fi, fantasy, and science writing.

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    "Long, challenging, all-encompassing"
    Where does Postwar: A History of Europe Since 1945 rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    It's in the middle for me. The author is great about covering all aspects of postwar history. The narration is beyond dull however. He does nothing to keep you listening, instead droning on in a near monotonous voice for 43 hours.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The coverage of the political and social changes wrought in Europe after the war. There was so much I didn't know. I especially liked the chapters on the EU and social democrats.


    What do you think the narrator could have done better?

    Having a narrator with some voice inflection.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    God no. I'd sit for a full day even at double speed.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 1-10 of 42 results PREVIOUS125NEXT
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  • jane
    London, UK
    4/14/13
    Overall
    "Postwar: A History of Europe Since 1945"

    POSTWAR is a masterpiece. It fills in all the gaps in all subject areas pertaining to Europe after World War II and makes sense of a complicated period. But it is a massive book and the paper back has very small writing. I found it hard to wade through the complicated Introduction. Eventually, I bought the audio book and once I got through the Introduction (still complicated) I was sailing.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Adam
    United Kingdom
    7/8/13
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    "A fantastically in-depth history"
    What made the experience of listening to Postwar: A History of Europe Since 1945 the most enjoyable?

    The depth of Judt's research and analysis is sensational. He admits himself that a full comprehensive history of post-war Europe would be impossible, but this is as close a realisation of that goal as is imaginable.


    What about Ralph Cosham’s performance did you like?

    Cosham's voice has a great sincerity and gravity. He reads slowly and clearly, and gives the words the weight they deserve without overly dramatising his performance.


    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • ed
    hove, United Kingdom
    11/14/12
    Overall
    "a dull man puked up a thesaurus"

    absolutely impossible to listen to.



    THE most longwinded prose i've encountered in a long time narrated by a most uninspiring monotonous reader. kudos. the thought of wading through the whole book fills me with dread which is a real shame. the subject matter is super interesting but ruined here. please can someone do an abridged version and have someone else read it?



    the first audiobook ive given up on.



    unfortunately for now avoid avoid avoid.

    6 of 10 people found this review helpful
  • Carl Rodgers
    Zurich,Switzerland
    3/31/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Enlightening"

    The book was informative without being dogmatic in any way.
    The writer lets you come to your own conclusions.
    The reader was excellent.
    For those who want to go on a journey, I recommend this book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Julie
    12/1/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Tony Judt's Magnum Opus"
    If you could sum up Postwar: A History of Europe Since 1945 in three words, what would they be?

    A clear and compelling review of developments in /Europe post World War II by an acknowledged expert in the history of the period.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Postwar: A History of Europe Since 1945?

    The general depiction of the state of Europe after the War: Germany's status then; the economic and population growth in the 60's and 70's.


    Did Ralph Cosham do a good job differentiating each of the characters? How?

    Yes, and he pronounced the non-English words well, but his voice needs to cheer up a bit - as a lecturer, I find you need to inject energy, by standing perhaps..


    If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    How today's Europe was born..


    Any additional comments?

    Well done to Audible for publishing this, a fascinating and stimulating read. It would be nice to have an audio of Ill Fares the Land, the wonderful and somewhat polemical book he wrote so brilliantly when he was terminally ill.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Adam
    11/21/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "It's amazing"
    If you could sum up Postwar: A History of Europe Since 1945 in three words, what would they be?

    Europe: it's complicated


    What did you like best about this story?

    The bit where the Nazis got beat, that was good. And the bit(s) where Satre looks like a twit. And every other word of it.


    Which scene did you most enjoy?

    There's a couple of pages where nobody gets killed, at least not en masse and Europe (or a part of) learns to play nice and act smug and then off we go again


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    Willy Brandt kneeling. The many choice. quotes. Too many.


    Any additional comments?

    You could argue about the emphasis here or there depending on your taste but really you can't go wrong. The reader is terrific and the writer is superhuman. the incredible knowledge, facility and insight here is worth anyones time. It should be worth everyones.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Andrew Dalton
    UK
    4/16/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A massive overview which contextualises 50 years"
    Would you listen to Postwar: A History of Europe Since 1945 again? Why?

    I have listened to it twice as there is a huge amount to take in.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The sweeping overview.


    Any additional comments?

    The narrator has come in for some criticism for reasons I do not understand. He has a pleasant educated English accent with an understated delivery style which was perfect for this book. I feel some countries were ignored, Finland in particular but overall a wonderful overview which sets into perspective much of Europe's success and why it is failing. Fascinating.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Dr.Stuart
    Rickmansworth, United Kingdom
    2/1/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Finest Post War History of Europe"
    If you could sum up Postwar: A History of Europe Since 1945 in three words, what would they be?

    An in-depth account of the history of Europe since 1945. Tony Judt was probably the pre-eminent historian of this period and his mastery of sources is second to none. Follow the effects of wartime defeat on French policy in Europe and in N.Africa. Was it accidental they used Gestapo methods on the arabs ? The story of Britain's failure to establish a role independent of the US is also fascinating especially before and after the Suez Crisis in 1956.


    What other book might you compare Postwar: A History of Europe Since 1945 to, and why?

    There are many post war histories but this is the best both in its detail and in its analysis.


    What does Ralph Cosham bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

    He reads with expression and understanding so the book flows even in some of the more complex parts.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    No, it's too long and detailed for that.


    Any additional comments?

    No.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Sune
    Lund, Sweden
    1/8/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A Masterpiece"

    Excellently written, and excellently read by Cosham. I'm almost tempted to listen to it all over again.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • K. P. Clark
    UK
    1/22/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Very interesting Topic, Poorly Delivered"
    Would you try another book written by Tony Judt or narrated by Ralph Cosham?

    Probably not. The information was fascinating and lots of material packed in. The writing style/language was a little pompous at times and some of the lists used to amplify a point were simply unnecessary. I've listened to 25 audiobooks in the last 18 months and this narrator was the worst by a long way. Very flat.


    What other book might you compare Postwar: A History of Europe Since 1945 to, and why?

    Masters of the Air - the content is very comprehensive.


    What didn’t you like about Ralph Cosham’s performance?

    Flat, monotone and he seemed to revel in the more pompous elements of the book.


    Did Postwar: A History of Europe Since 1945 inspire you to do anything?

    Punctuate my learning with a good thriller to make my commute less drab.


    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
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