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The Portable Hannah Arendt (Penguin Classics) Paperback – July 29, 2003


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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Hannnah Arendt (1906-1975) was for many years University Professor of Political Philosophy in the Graduate Faculty of the New School for Social Research and a Visiting Fellow of the Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago. She is also the author of Eichmann in Jerusalem, On Revolution, and Between Past and Future (all available from Penguin Twentieth-Century Classics).

Peter Baehr teaches in the department of politics and sociology at Lingnan University in Hong Kong.

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Product Details

  • Series: Penguin Classics
  • Paperback: 575 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; Reissue edition (July 29, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0142437565
  • ISBN-13: 978-0142437568
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 1.1 x 7.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #254,878 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

73 of 74 people found the following review helpful By R. B. Bernstein on October 8, 2000
Format: Paperback
Hannah Arendt (1906-1975) was one of the great thinkers of the twentieth century. She was equally at home in philosophy, political theory, and history, and blended all three disciplines in her pursuit of integrity in political thought and action. This fine book is perhaps the single best place to begin to get to know her thought and work. The introduction is first-rate -- clear, accessible, yet intellectually rigorous, respectful of Arendt while critical. The choices of readings -- both complete and self-contained essays and extracts from larger books such as ORIGINS OF TOTALITARIANISM, EICHMANN IN JERUSALEM, and ON REVOLUTION -- are excellent. The annotations don't get in the way and are of much aid to the reader. The bibliography of works by and about Arendt is excellent. All in all, this is a superb addition to the VIKING PORTABLE series.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Liron Rubin on October 19, 2009
Format: Paperback
Although this volume intends to introduce Arendt to new readers, those familiar with her writings will find some choice morsels scattered among the excerpts from her better-known works. Of these, I particularly enjoyed her analysis of enforced segregation, her startling letter to Gershom Scholem (in which she responds to his criticisms of EICHMAN IN JERUSALEM), and her conception of a wartime (World War Two, that is) Jewish army. After reading these and other pieces, you will, I think, understand why so many hail her as a truly monumental figure: a scholar who was at home in journalism, a critic of totalitarianism who was no leftist, a supporter of Israel who did not hesitate to address its flaws, a political philosopher who balked at that label.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
i like most of the penguin classics. this book, which includes a sample of her letters, books, articles, and speeches, is very thoughtful. the introduction was, as the previous reviewer suggested, scholarly, respectful yet, at times, engaging. she is, indeed, a political - historian - philosopher, regardless of her own denials. astute observations at times, among the very finest i've ever read. but, then, there are other times in which she just seems to gloss over the premise, analyze the process, and reach fallacious conclusions because, perhaps, the premise never even occurred to her? i don't know. it's not consistent with the rest of her brilliant work. she seemed to start out in germany very strong willed but her tenacity seemed to peter out over the decades. maybe we're all like that, huh? i've never found any of her writings for which i would proffer anyting other than an A+. this work comes highly recommended for anyone with an interest in philosophy, political theory, history, jewish studies.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Kirsti K. Simonsuuri on April 6, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Hannah Arendt is a political philosopher whose work is still highly relevant and inspirational. This selection of her writings, essays and excerpts from her books aims to give the scope of her ideas to the full. That includes her work on the human mind, the role of imagination, and the human condition. But there is also a full coverage of her political writings that relate to the history of the Jewish people in the 20th century. These analyses rank among the very best that have been written on the subject in history. The reader can follow the emergence of such widely-known concepts like "the banality of evil", concepts that Arendt examines with clarity and intelligence.
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Format: Paperback
Hannah Arendt covers many topics in this volume [Review based on 2000 Edition]. This includes various political philosophies and philosophers, the history of German Jews, the unfolding Holocaust, the similarities between Soviet Communism and German Nazism, and much more. She believes that government-forced racial desegregation in the USA violates the freedom of association. She compares it to forcing Jews in Jewish-only vacation resorts to associate with non-Jews. (p. 238).

Arendt is most remembered for her analysis of the Eichmann trial, and this book contains an extract from her EICHMANN IN JERUSALEM, including her unsparing criticism of the JUDENRATs (JUDENRAETE). (pp. 348-on). Editor Peter Baehr describes the furious reaction of part of the Jewish community to Arend't conclusions. For instance, the ADL (Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith) issued condemnatory memorandums of her. (p. xxvi).

In a 1963 letter to Gershom Scholem, Hannah Arendt defended her condemnation of the Jewish Councils, and rejected the argument that the desperate situation facing Jews exculpated their collaboration with the Nazis against other Jews. She wrote, (quote) I have made my own position plain, and yet it is obvious that you do not understand it. I said that there was no possibility of resistance, but there existed the possibility of DOING NOTHING. And in order to do nothing, one did not need to be a saint, one needed only to say: "I am just a simple Jew, and I have no desire to play any other role." Whether these people or some of them, as you indicate, deserved to be hanged is an altogether different question. What needs to be discussed are not the people so much as the arguments with which they justified themselves in their own eyes and in those of others.
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