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Thinking the Twentieth Century Audiobook

Thinking the Twentieth Century

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Publisher's Summary

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 the failures of public intellectuals, adeptly extracting the essence of their ideas and explaining the risks of their involvement in politics. Spanning the entire era and all currents of thought, this is a triumphant tour de force that restores clarity to the classics of modern thought with the assurance and grace of a master craftsman.

The exceptional nature of this work is evident in its very structure - a series of luminous conversations between Judt and his friend and fellow historian Timothy Snyder, grounded in the texts of their trade and focused by the intensity of their vision. Judt’s astounding eloquence and range of reference are on display as never before. Traversing the century’s complexities with ease, he and Snyder revive both thoughts and thinkers, guiding us through the debates that made our world. As forgotten treasures are unearthed and overrated thinkers are dismantled, the shape of a century emerges. Judt and Snyder make us partners in their project as we learn the ways to think like a historian or even like a public intellectual. We begin to experience the power of historical perspective for the critique and reform of society and for the pursuit of the good from day to day.

In restoring - and exemplifying - the best of the intellectual life of the 20th century, Thinking the Twentieth Century charts a pathway for moral life in the 21st. An incredible achievement, this book is about the life of the mind - and the mindful life.

©2012 the Estate of Tony Judt. Introduction 2012 by Timothy Snyder (P)2012 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

What the Critics Say

“A lively, browsable, deeply satisfying meditation on recent history by a deservedly celebrated public intellectual.” (Publishers Weekly)

What Members Say

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  •  
    Norman Auburn, CA, United States 03-07-12
    Norman Auburn, CA, United States 03-07-12
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    "UNINTELLIGIBLE"
    Any additional comments?

    This book is a conversation between Tony Judt and Timothy Snyder, but unfortunately, whoever conceived the format for the audio book has taken no trouble to distinguish who is speaking and when. Sometimes it's clear, but most of the time it's not. Snyder's questions are often highly involved so just because someone is presenting their opinion doesn't mean it's Judt speaking. This book should have had two narrators and at the very least needs to be edited to add cues to signal who is speaking. As it is, the reader's accent is marvelously even and not at all unhelpful in aiding the listener to distinguish who is who.

    17 of 19 people found this review helpful
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    Eleanor 12-13-12
    Eleanor 12-13-12 Member Since 2012
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    "A fascinating synthesis of recent history"

    I had never heard of Tony Judt, but this book was a great introduction to his thinking, presented in an accessible style. Because Judt was dying, the book consists of a series of interviews -- so there is no chance for long footnotes or an overly-academic tone. The interview format can get a little confusing because the reader doesn't use different voices for the Snyder and Judt, so it can be hard to figure out what is question and what is anser. Judt had a strong moral compass and although he was certainly left of center, a lot of this book deals with criticism of the Left for their silence on the atrocities of the USSR. Basically a history of the Left in the 20th century that I'd never been exposed to.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mike Johnson 05-16-17 Member Since 2012
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    "Thanks to R. Cosham"

    For this type of material (subject matter) I found Mr. Cosham's approach to be perfectly well suited.
    Mr. Judt had a brilliant though very uneven mind so his work is to be commended to a critical thinker who can se where he is very solid and where he runs badly into the hedges. The challenge is that he is so well polished one feels pressured to accept al that he says uncritically and you may wish to be very alert in this regard.
    Here is the base case which has two primary aspects. Academics like Mr. Judt are attached to Late Edwardian England and the entire World which would be blown apart by the Wars of Modernity 1914-1945. The figure most attractive to them is J.M. Keynes who epitomized the English Gentleman Academic in an era when servants were still available at a good price and the International Academic Clerisy traveled with no questions from upstart governments or their officials. Passport controls emerged from WW1 and is the reason our reactionary academic class is currently trying to get them discarded so that they may travel as Keynes once did.
    The main aim of turn of the century Europe was that academics would eventually seize state power and the commanding heights of culture to which they had been striving since Louis 14 and which had always been denied them by Royals, Merchants, Clerics, Peasants and so forth.
    The 75 Years War (if you like) put paid to all that everywhere other than the NW NATO countries and the residual rump states of collapsed Euro empires. Colonial Police were sent home from Burma/India as in the case of the very embittered George Orwell for example and the nominally marxist nations of the east deported their antiquated intellectuals by the boatload to the West- these were the Marielistas of the time known as 56ers and so forth in contemporary argot. This was certainly a 2 edged sword as New Years Gift in that this enormous class of deportees from the 19th Century provided some glorious gas lighting to our colleges at the cost of holding them back to the era of gas light itself.
    The second difficulty is that loss of their 19th Century Eden has obsessed them with those who they blame for taking it all away from them. Academics were almost prepared to seize power if they could just somehow summon up some sort of motivation when of a sudden the prize was seized from them by Lenin, Stalin, Mussolini, Hitler, and innumerable unnamed lower social types. As a result there is no other perspective for them but their rape and disempowerment by the people prepared to actually act in the course of the 20th Century and subsequently.
    In the 21st Century we do need to be alert to the onrushing Totalitarian Technocratic State but it is NOT going to be a rerun of 1845 to 1945 in terms of strutting operatic dictators.
    For our purposes in retrospect Fascism and Bolshevism (Communism) can be taken as equivalent if not identical. Yet for academics like Judt and Snyder the traumas of the 20th Century are endlessly re-enacted as in a sort of PTSD induced state though neither Mr. Judt or Mr. Snyder can proceed by any other means than that of *selected* personal accounts and the archives.
    One terrible outcome is the wave of current students they have consciously ruined and who wave Fascist and USSR flags as they are inundated by debts for worthless dysfunctional credentials. They would find advocating a return to Horse traction to be of more advantage.
    The USA will never have any sort of Totalitarian Government of the Wagnerian Euro type because we are individuals, primarily, who despise centralized dictation. Please see US War of Independence. People like Judt do not understand that one does not become the citizen of another country other than in a legal sense through some sort of endorsement. So we see Judt drift back and forth from country to country swapping jobs, ideologies, and grad student 'wives' along with citizenship almost as often as often as he purchases new more stylish shoes.
    He is the Republic of Tony Judt at the end and slips below the waves in the Sea of Solipsism. For Dr. Snyder I am concerned as it seems to me that Tony Judt has knocked the brains out of him and that while Judt claims some genuine identity as a postwar Jew riding the bus from Putney - certainly a fact- poor Mr. Snyder is left as a sort of rootless cosmopolitan inhabiting a vanished virtual world. Other than this the book is good practice for deconstruction.
    Afterword: Mr Judt died from the effects of ALS and contrary to his claim ALS often carries comorbidities affecting cognition and inducing dementia and one may see such influences in this work.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Quinndiesel 08-15-17
    Quinndiesel 08-15-17
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    "required reading for any intellectual."

    This book is masterfully done. Tony Judt's intellectual contributions are priceless. I'll go back and read the print version this year.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    Barbara Kautz 06-28-17 Member Since 2016
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    "Philosophical Discussion of 20th Century Issues"

    High level, intellectual discussion of the 20th century by two brilliant intellectuals. Does not work well as an audio book for two reasons: first, it is dense and portions should be re-read; second, the book is, in part, framed as the conversation of two people. Unfortunately, the reader does not make it at all clear which of the authors is speaking, using indistinguishable voices for the two of them, so much is lost.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    Olga Tomchin 04-21-17
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    "Should have two different readers"

    Though a conversation, the audiobook has both people's words read by the same reader, which is confusing.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    Adam S. Ryan 02-15-17 Member Since 2012
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    "Incredible"

    So packed with fascinating ideas I had to keep hitting 30 second rewind. Not easy to tell in audio version what is judt and what is Snyder but doesn't matter - both interesting. Also very timely discussion - even suggests rise of Trump-like figure in America in last chapter.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    Tojo 10-03-16
    Tojo 10-03-16 Member Since 2013
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    "Could have been excellent"
    Any additional comments?

    Cosham has an excellent voice, but the content of this book is nearly unintelligible in this format. It matters who is speaking, and if the producers had used two narrators, so you could identify whether a quote was coming from Judt or Snyder, this could have been a great audiobook. As it is, Cosham does nothing to distinguish who is speaking, and each man's speech blends into the other's. As audio, it's a mess, which is really unfortunate. Imagine a book that is written in the form of an interview in which neither speaker is identified and the text is all written in exactly the same font, that is what this audiobook is like.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    K. Boyle 09-22-15
    K. Boyle 09-22-15
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    "Amazing insight into a historical mind!"

    Judt's biography informed his work more than one could know, and this book is an excellent account of that rich interaction between living the postwar period and writing its history.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    ManInTheHighFlat LONDON, United Kingdom 09-03-15
    ManInTheHighFlat LONDON, United Kingdom 09-03-15 Member Since 2014
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    "Truly outstanding"

    Making intellectual discourse relevant, gripping and useful. Cosham is superb. It ended ended too soon!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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