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on January 28, 2014
If you are a historian (and I am not), I don't know what to say to you about this book. But if you are not and want better to understand what happened in Europe after World War II, this is an extremely readable book with a wealth of information and explanations of how we got from a to z, as it were. It's long and you have to be interested enough to stay with it, but I read it with enormous satisfaction in the sense that I was obtaining a legitimate understanding of something that otherwise I knew only in somewhat disconnected bits and pieces. It is not written from a U.S.-centric view, which makes it seem particularly fresh. Judt is a fine writer and a highly regarded historian. Excellent work, in my view.
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on September 13, 2013
Everyone has said what can be said here but I would add my 10 cents that this should be required reading for policy makers, not just in Europe itself but in the US. You may not like Judt's conclusions but his argument is forcefully made and thorough in its factual support and deserves consideration if not necessarily acceptance. An added advantage, it is an excellent read; I found his chapters on the collapse of Communism and of the wars in the former Yugoslavia to be tours de force. If I give this four stars rather than five it's only because five stars in my opinion is reserved for the superstars of literature.
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on January 15, 2011
A wonderful book by a top grade intellectual who seems unafraid to voice opinions. Political synthesis intersects cultural criticism in a work thoroughly serious yet at times heartbreaking or ironic as appropriate. Judt looks at Europe as it recovers from World War II, showing how politics, economics and culture (he seems especially sensitive to the cinema and music) interacted in the various countries involved and combined to create a more unified Europe. Lest this sound stuffy and boring, please note that Judt is a master story-teller. Do not let the phone-book proportions of this compelling book put you off. The paperback edition I scored from Amazon reads beautifully, with good margins. If you try to read it in bed, however, and drop off to sleep unexpectedly,it could hurt you.
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on December 18, 2005
This book really gives one a view of where we are in the world and how we arrived here.

If one was to read only one book this year, this would be the book to read. The author describes in detail ( too much detail perhaps for some) the extensive changes that have occurred following the Second World War.

All of us alive have in one way or another been affected by the war, in our culture, our government and in our material being.
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on July 5, 2007
The subject of the book is Europe since the end of WWII. Such large scale histories are interesting because, although they can't possibly describe all important events, they can provide a better understanding of a certain period from the perspective emphasized by the author, e.g. economic, social, military etc.

My concern is that the range of perspectives this book focuses on is unusually broad and, at the same time, the author's opinions, even on very controversial issues, are not sufficiently elaborated upon. This has the effect of giving the impression of one-sidedness and subjectivity.

To give an example that is quite prominent in the book: concerning the conflict(s) in Yugoslavia during the 90's, the book gives a solid account of the Serbian crimes as they became widely known by the media, but it does not attempt to illuminate the motives and concerns behind the policies leading up to these crimes. This does not mean that, if some of these underlying concerns had a real basis, the crimes would be in the least bit excused, but such a analysis would have offered the reader a better insight into this important part of post-WWII European history.

In particular, the analysis of the Yugoslav conflict fails to account for atrocities against Serbians and which would seem to confirm that some of the Serbian concerns (as opposed to the way by which they addressed them) were justified: e.g. the deportation of the entire Serbian population from Krajina in Croatia or the terrorist activities of the Kosovo Liberation Army. Some of that is mentioned in the book, but only in passing and with an emotional detachment which is very different from the appropriately passionate denunciations of the Serbian crimes.

Such problems would probably not have arisen if the events discussed had been analyzed from a narrower perspective or a more extended argumentation had been provided in support of the author's interpretation.

In the same vein, the reference to the facts underlying some of the author's conclusions is too minimal and even the statement of the conclusions themselves is too telegraphic to be clear. Complex issues Europe has been trying to address for years, including things as disparate as the reform of the financial structures of EU, or Turkey's difficulty to genuinely adopt Western values about human rights and dealing with its History, are often brushed upon without any special explanation leaving the reader with only a vaguest idea of the nature of the problem and of the author's view.

In summary, the breadth of the material covered made it hard for the book to live up to the expectations for a careful and enlightening analysis of post-war European history.
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on September 29, 2008
This is a marvellous book, so nice and easy to read. The author's account of the end of the Soviet Era in the East Countries is very, very interesting. Also excellent are the insights of the events of the 50' and 60', of which I do not remember, since I was a kid.

This is a book that teaches you for live, and makes you think and reflect so much aboout the present.

It is a "must read" for all interested in Europe and the evolution of the Western World.
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on May 8, 2014
A lot has been written about Europe between 1939 and 1945. Indeed, a lot went on in those years that would have a profound effect on the future of the European continent, and the world. But just what were those effects? In this masterpiece of narration, historian Tony Judt takes the reader on a journey from the ashes of 1945 right up to the middle of the 1980′s that is both enthralling in its detail and brilliantly written. True, the author is at times quite-single minded in his views on certain topics, but one can hardly expect an author to remain entirely neutral throughout a work of this scope. That said, I had no trouble distinguishing fact from opinion.

What really captivated me about this book is the sheer scope of what is covered. Far from concentrating on the west, Judt takes us behind the iron curtain, providing a clear and vivid picture not only of events, but attitudes, mindset and the thinking behind much of the cold war and its effect on both sides of the divide.

In summary, of all the books I have read on this period, this one is by far the most comprehensive. It is also written in a way that is guaranteed to captivate the reader, something that cannot be claimed by all of its contemporaries. As for who should read it, I would recommend it to anyone with an interest in the state of modern Europe and the path which has led us to where we are today.
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on April 5, 2013
What a learning experience. This is a history of which most all readers are a part. It connects time periods, experiences, and political decisions with one's own lifetime. Then it draws you into a wider movement, a more comprehensive social and political picture, and provides a scope behind any one boundary (be it time, nation, people, language, or political belief.

And it is really well written. A most enjoyable read. We lost a great mind when Tony Judt died, this is an amazing tale.
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on November 12, 2009
Tony Judt's book Postwar: A History of Europe Since 1945 superbly covers events in Central and Eastern Europe as well as giving attention to the more widely covered Western European states. Judt's ability to point out hidden as well as long-term trends should prove useful to all serious students of Europe after WW II.
In addition, Judt's style makes his content readily available to most of us.
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on August 17, 2008
In this long and detailed resection of Europe post World War II, Judt has finally put all the little pieces that led to "modern Europe" into place and, more importantly, into perspective. Not since Barbara Tuchman carefully negotiated events has anyone made such a profound effort to help us understand where we are now by retracing the path to the present.
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