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.
“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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The narrators voice was often grating on my nerves and boring to listen to.
War and Greed
This is the kind of styles I like: good pace, cerebral, well-documented, meaty, mind-bending.
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.
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.
If it weren't for Audible I'd never get any reading done.
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.
I consider this one of the two or three most important and enlightening books I've read in the last 15 years. It presents a very balanced view of post-war Europe, its problems, achievements and challenges. Having read a great deal of traditional European history, I thought I was reasonably well informed in that area, but I was wrong--at least in regard to contemporary Europe. I've had a typical Ameri-centric perspective, with no real knowledge or appreciation of what differentiates Europeans, not only from Americans, but from each other. The problems they have faced and continue to face make our red state/blue state battles seem petty. The author is equally critical of Socialism and Thatcherism, Communism and Fascism, and in my view presents a balanced approach to both America's achievements and contributions and its short-comings from a European perspective.
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.
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.
Over 40 hours but never a dull moment. Judt skill is to give you an overview of the events, but he excels in his analysis. There are all sorts of revelations such as the West didn't mind the Berlin Wall, or there was no chance of a nuclear war. He gives time to all the countries, but also groups parts of the book by themes. Very strong on the political and intellectual history, less so on the cultural, but alway enjoyable. One of the best history books I have ever read.
"really interesting but shame about the reader"
This is a very thorough review of European history since WWII. I really enjoyed it; it refreshed my memory about things I'd forgotten and filled in a lot of gaps. My only gripe is the reader - I know history can be a bit of an arid subject to deliver out loud but I found the reader very wooden and his voice really annoyed me by the end.
"Brilliant book, but for the narrator"
A great book of huge interest yet the narrator has thoroughly ruined this. Quotes that are read with such power and tone by Andrew Marr with his books are totally and utterly confused by Mr Cosham. His voice is dull and is quite honestly difficult to listen to. I for one will never ever download anything read by this man again. (The preview was ok, but listening to him for 10 minutes is too much).
"A Definitive History for 'Modern' Europeans"
I am fortunate enough to have known Tony Judt and regarded him as a friend in the late 70's and early '80's. I can attest to the fact that he is right to have regarded himself first and foremost as a teacher.
This book is an important one for a non-historian, but a European, like myself, because it fills in many of the important gaps, the 'whys and wherefors' of how we have come to be who we are.
The size of the book may be off-putting to non academic readers, so as an audiobook, it truly excels.
The writing style and the interplay between personal stories, politics and the appreciation of the human lives, caught up in the changes after the war, are wonderfully done.
The reading by Ralph Cosham can be well appreciated by those who will know that Tony Judt was unable to perform this himself.
I do have an emotional reaction to key parts of this book. My parents were 'displaced persons' at the end of the war, having left Latvia at the time of the country's third 'invasion' (Soviet/German/Soviet).
I can remember talking with Tony about my parents' experiences and how they came to England, their experiences here of working in industry and in the early NHS.
I was very moved by the sections on the refugees of Europe; the writing was very sympathetic.
Personally, I am so grateful to Audible for publishing Post War as an audiobook.
"Well worth listening to if you can concentrate !"
This is a book that really draws you in with its sheer erudition and scope. You do have to concentrate as there are occasional lists of facts and figures which can be hard to take in whilst you're negotiating a roundabout or overtaking! Generally speaking though you can quickly pick up the thread again. Some of the particular highlights are the analyses of European cinema of the period, and the 1968 student riots. All in all, this is a wonderful introduction to the Europe that we inhabit today and I thoroughly recommend it.
"A stunning piece of synthesis"
I was looking for a book that explained the war in Yugoslavia in the 1990s, and thought I might as well get the rest of Europe and 1945-2005 thrown in for the same price, as it were. I ended up living with this book all summer. It is stunning. And it did explain what went on in Yugoslavia very concisely.
Tony Judt does an amazing job of organising and presenting many threads from all over Europe (including Russia, Ireland, Eastern Europe through the cold war years, right up through the European Treaties that are causing so much angst today). Judt is never shy to give opinions and make judgements, to analyse and explain: it is far from history as one damn fact after another. For a person of my age - who grew up through this period - it explains the background behind and significance of all the half-noted, half-understood news reports of the 60s, 70s, 80s... really a wonderful cornucopia, too much to take in on one reading.
Narration. Sadly, not good enough for the quality of the subject and writing. Ralph Cosham manages to sound like the quintessential boring history teacher, droning on at the front of the class on a sunny afternoon. However, the book is so well constructed and so full of interest that this voice is a cost you just have to cope with.
This is a fantastic book that puts some much needed perspective on the Europe we find ourselves living with at the turn of the 21st century. It filled in many of the gaps that lay in my ignorance of our continent, and opened my eyes - and mind - to many things of which I simply was not aware. Evocatively written, this is historical story telling at its best, and should be read by everyone with an interest in recent history.
"Brilliant, Comprehensive and Thoughtprovoking."
And that is just the title.
Extremely knowledgable book, breathtakingly comprehensive and not afraid to offer some frank opinions. If this is not the definitive book on the subject, I do not know which is.
For anyone interested in the period, it cannot be more highly recommended.
"Brilliant history - explains our modern obsessions"
The history is eyewitness and documented, fresh as if it were yesterday. It is beautifully written and read with no intrusive accents, mispronunciations or odd speech mannerisms.
This book explains the history I was vaguely aware of as a child growing up in the 1950s and 60s and the politics which affected my life in the 1970s. It also serves to explain our modern British obsession about Europe in terms of post war economics and the influence of the USA and Soviet Union.
If you've ever wondered why Europe is the way it is now and what problems had their roots in the postwar period, this book will help you understand. It covers the politics and economics, the beliefs and prejudices, the movement of peoples in the war damaged continent and why the borders ended up where they are. This period is the root of many of our most difficult relationships with our continental neighbours and this book explains them with clarity.
One of the single most gripping non fiction books I've ever bought. Great value for anyone with an interest in our country and its government, the collapse or our industries and the changes to our railways.
Feed your head!
"First Class in all areas"
A real gem. History students will find this an absolute must. Everything the serious student (and the interested enthusiast) ever needed is here. One of the best accounts ever. The reader provides just the right voice for the job. The material speaks for itself if you have the ear to listen. If what you are after is the annoying 'sing song tele sales voice ' delivery you will not get it here. Quite rightly so. The book speaks for itself, as it should.
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