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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.

Critic Reviews

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

What listeners say about Thinking the Twentieth Century

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

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.

6 people found this helpful

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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.

18 people found this helpful

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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.

2 people found this helpful

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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.

1 person found this helpful

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Fantastic

This is being a fly on the wall for an incredibly fascinating intellectual discussion between two brilliant minds. Notice I don’t limit these scholars to their label of historian, because they are clearly so much more. I consider myself fairly educated and well read, yet I never heard of many of the authors and works these men referee off the top of their heads as if I’m talking about the ‘82 Chicago Cubs lineup - except my knowledge is baseball while theirs spans topics of life and death importance, not a child’s memory of his first love in baseball.

I enjoyed these men in conversation as much as I did any single volume non-fiction book I’ve ever spent time with. If you love history, politics, and important issues... you will enjoy this book. I liken it to my years of enjoyment of Charlie Rose’s discussions with great minds. Sucks for his victims that Charlie was a sexual predator. That one hurt because I respected Charlie and never in a hundred years would have guessed his disgusting sickness. Regardless, his work was stellar and I enjoyed it for decades (you think you know someone, but you don’t). I digress.

Get this book! You can return it if you don’t like it, but if you like history I suspect you will love this one.

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Needed two narrators

Sophisticated dialogue by two top intellectuals on Twentieth century European history. It is narrated by Ralph Cosham who does a fine job; however, since this is a dialogue between two persons, two voices, we need two narrators. I am reminded of the Audible recordings of Plato’s Dialogues I have. I can’t imagine how a listener using only the Audible recording could distinguish Snyder’s dialogue and Judt’s. It’s impossible. Cosham makes no distinction in his voice. I was reading the book while listening to the Audible. That was the only way I could distinguish them. (May I recommend David Rintuil [sic] as a narrator.)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.