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Reappraisals: Reflections on the Forgotten Twentieth Century Hardcover – Bargain Price, April 17, 2008
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These are the actual reappraisals, I suppose, and the remainder of the book reflects on Europe, the United States and Israel since WW II. In an essay called 'The Silence of the Lambs: On the Strange Death of Liberal America', Judt laments the tacit consent by leading liberals of President Bush's 'catastrophic foreign policy'. Some intellectuals even trip over each other in order to praise the war in Iraq in particular and the GWOT (Global War On Terror) in general. The Left, as represented by Tony Blair, has lost its credibility, perhaps even its raison d'être. In order to survive, it has to shoulder its responsibility for the failures of the 20th century and reassess many of its central themes. In absence of a clear vision the Left will simply stagnate and wither away. As Judt acutely observes: 'to be on the left is to be a conservative'.
I highly recommend 'Reappraisals' to anyone interested in recent history - and in the future, however gloomy it might appear.
In this book he is not a historian but an essayist strongly arguing for the left. He covers a number of topics but his key message is that the end of utopian models of government does not mean a end to the role of government in society. Government still has the power to solve problems and to shape societies to so that breakdown and dislocation do not occur. He is clearly a supporter of the welfare state although his intelligence is such that any of his positions are hedged rather than dogmatic. In facing problems there are no simple answers.
Some of the essays are rather strident attacks on Israel. He appears to have some first hand experience living in Israel in his youth. His attacks are rather simple. He says that Israel is a strong modern state which keeps large numbers of Arabs living in Bantustans. It uses collective punishments and violates international law. Whilst doing these things it trumpets a ideology that it is a state facing extinction and its actions are simply in self defence. It is also the only democracy in an area in which autocracy is the norm.Read more ›
But this weakness is, for me, more than offset by the strengths of the book. Tony Judt is an independent, clear-headed thinker, who writes knowledgeably and lucidly on a wide range of contemporary subjects of an historical/political nature. Few -- correction, probably no one -- will agree with him on every point. His views on Israel are particularly likely to raise hackles, at least here in the U.S. (They led "The New Republic" to treat him as persona non grata.) But his opinions are well-grounded in history and well thought out. They are not, most emphatically, the received strictures of an ideologue -- which, of course, is what irritates so many who fancy themselves liberals about Judt. Then again, what George Orwell said about nationalists is equally applicable to ideologues: "If one harbors anywhere in one's mind a nationalistic loyalty or hatred, certain facts, though in a sense known to be true, are inadmissble.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Tony Judt was an intellectual giant. While many of these essays and book reviews were written years ago I still find them intellectually stimulating. Read morePublished 19 months ago by Mark Donnelly
Mr. Judt surely will be required reading for future generations.
He keeps it interesting. I couldn't put this book down - both times I read it.
Tony Judt is in a brilliant and suggestive thinker and political analyst in the great european tradition of Raymond AronPublished on July 25, 2013 by Rasbe
Tony Judt was a very good historian--one could even say a brilliant historian--but his commentaries on various thinkers and historical periods, and his comparisons of the U.S. Read morePublished on July 5, 2013 by M. J. Newhouse
I'll give it four; the extravagant praise, though, I don't buy. Not sure what's 'forgotten' about the thinkers Judt gleefully dissects, from the preposterous (Althusser, Arendt,... Read morePublished on October 1, 2012 by Simon Barrett 'Il Penseroso'
Part 1 of this book review comments on the general content and the author. Part 2 is about the author's thesis. Read morePublished on July 20, 2012 by Marc Riese
Of Tony Judt's other books, `Postwar' is best known. Tony was an unparalleled master of modern history, and of the English language. That alone gives me much reading pleasure. Read morePublished on December 11, 2011 by Palle E T Jorgensen