We are currently making improvements to the Audible site. In an effort to enhance the accessibility experience for our customers, we have created a page to more easily navigate the new experience, available at the web address www.audible.com/access.
 >   > 
The Origins of Totalitarianism | [Hannah Arendt]

The Origins of Totalitarianism

This classic, definitive account of totalitarianism traces the emergence of modern racism as an "ideological weapon for imperialism", beginning with the rise of anti-Semitism in Europe in the 19th century and continuing through the New Imperialism period from 1884 to World War I.
Regular Price:$31.47
  • Membership Details:
    • First book free with 30-day trial
    • $14.95/month thereafter for your choice of 1 new book each month
    • Cancel easily anytime
    • Exchange books you don't like
    • All selected books are yours to keep, even if you cancel
  • - or -

Your Likes make Audible better!

'Likes' are shared on Facebook and Audible.com. We use your 'likes' to improve Audible.com for all our listeners.

You can turn off Audible.com sharing from your Account Details page.

OK

Publisher's Summary

This classic, definitive account of totalitarianism traces the emergence of modern racism as an "ideological weapon for imperialism", beginning with the rise of anti-Semitism in Europe in the 19th century and continuing through the New Imperialism period from 1884 to World War I.

©1966 Hannah Arendt; (P)2007 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.9 (85 )
5 star
 (40)
4 star
 (20)
3 star
 (11)
2 star
 (6)
1 star
 (8)
Overall
4.3 (46 )
5 star
 (28)
4 star
 (9)
3 star
 (4)
2 star
 (3)
1 star
 (2)
Story
4.0 (48 )
5 star
 (22)
4 star
 (12)
3 star
 (10)
2 star
 (2)
1 star
 (2)
Performance
Sort by:
  •  
    Roger South Orange, NJ, United States 08-04-08
    Roger South Orange, NJ, United States 08-04-08 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
    306
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    396
    54
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    10
    0
    Overall
    "Vast and intricate analysis of horror"

    Arendt uses Marxist economics, combined with a Hobbesian outlook, to evaluate the rise of Hitler and Stalin. Her thesis is that their totalitarian regimes were qualitatively different from other despotisms, both inwardly and outwardly, because their aim was not self or national aggrandizement, but pursuit of a blinding ideology, leading ultimately to total destruction.

    She describes totalitarianism arising out of anti-Semitism and global imperialism. There are some wonderful insights here, such as the change in anti-Semitism from anti-Judaism to anti-Jewishness and the change in the concept of nation from one of geography to one of ethnicity or race. The pattern of anti-Semitism and imperialism leading to totalitarianism seems to fit the German model better than the Russian, however. In addition, her discussion of racism suffers from ignoring New World slavery. She acknowledges the irony of the US as a land of liberty founded on slavery, but she does not consider the totalitarian nature of American slavery.

    Arendt is at her best evaluating the nature of totalitarian regimes. She describes the ability of Stalin and Hitler to destroy the connections of individuals with others in society and eventually self-identity. She also explains how the focus of a totalitarian regime on ideology isolates it from reality and makes it so much harder for the non-totalitarian world to understand or deal with regimes focused on goals other than self or national interest. This incomprehension also makes it harder for the rest of the world to grasp the reality of the Radical Evil adopted in pursuit of totalitarian ideology. She describes in academic terms much of what Orwell illustrated in 1984.

    Arendt also gives ominous warnings about the need for the separation of law and power, meaning that those charged with executing the law should not be the ones deciding what the law is, as well as the assault on civil society that results from constant or unending war.

    32 of 32 people found this review helpful
  •  
    A User Frederick, MD, United States 08-05-08
    A User Frederick, MD, United States 08-05-08 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
    61
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    33
    8
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    "Difficult to follow"

    My review only applies to the audio version. Whatever the merits of the book itself. I found it very hard to follow as the mass of detail and the manner of writing was such that it was difficult to listen. For a work of this type you need to be able to go back and reread sentences and whole paragraphs. The narrator was good but the complexity of the subject matter was hard to keep up with. I found I had to stop and think about what was just said. I have listened to hundreds of audio books over the years and this was the most difficult book to listen to given the way the subject is presented and the not exactly clear presentation of it. Plus the fact that some of the material is dated particularly that on the Soviet Union and the characterization of Lenin.

    19 of 22 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Douglas Atlanta, GA, United States 02-10-15
    Douglas Atlanta, GA, United States 02-10-15 Member Since 2015

    I like to read but listening is better.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    33
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    36
    36
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    1
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Very Heady Look at Theory of Totalitarianism"

    This was not at all what I was expecting. I was thinking this would be more of a history of the early stages of Totalitarianism governments such as in USSR and Germany. Those are the two governments that Arendt focuses on but this really isn't that sort of book. This is a theory book; meaning it focuses more on psyche and philosophy and behavior theory than facts, anecdotes, and events. There was a totally superfluous digression concerning Benjamin Disraeli that was quite lengthy, and that was actually one of the more interesting parts of the book for me. The reason I gave it 4 stars overall is that I think if you're looking for a theory book, this is an excellent one. It just wasn't what I was looking for. I don't want that to influence people who might be thinking of buying this though. And Nadia May is brilliant as always as narrator. In fact, if not for May, I probably would have checked out more than I did. She makes even the driest theory ramblings seem sort of interesting. More than that, she always convinces me 100% that she herself believes what she's reading and that what she's reading is absolutely true.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michael 05-10-15
    Michael 05-10-15 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    2
    1
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Excellent"

    A well thought out and engaging work. She explains so much through the analysis of human history. I believe that much of Arendt is still relevant today. An excellent audiobook reproduction btw.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Deborah Bronx, NY, United States 12-19-09
    Deborah Bronx, NY, United States 12-19-09 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
    20
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    289
    5
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    "Poor narration"

    This seems like a very interesting book, but I could not follow it because of the narration. Her accent is hard for me to understand, and she speaks fast and flat. There are a few other books I would like to purchase that are read by this narrator, but I won't due to the fact that I cannot follow her narration.

    9 of 17 people found this review helpful
Sort by:
  • Terje
    Aalesund, Norway
    5/13/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A must read, for people interested in history."
    Would you listen to The Origins of Totalitarianism again? Why?

    Hanna Arendt gives us great insight into European history, espesially the period 1800-1950. Why the first generation of educated young Jews, leaves the profession of their parents, and become revolutionaries, and end up in gulags and concentration camps. She also lists the differences and similarities, between Nazi-Germany and Soviet-Union.


    What other book might you compare The Origins of Totalitarianism to, and why?

    "The Road to Serfdom" by F.A. Hayek
    "In the Shadow of Satan" by Janusz Subczyski


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

    Clear and easy listening.


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

    Yes


    2 of 2 people found this review helpful

Report Inappropriate Content

If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.

Cancel

Thank You

Your report has been received. It will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.