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4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 4.00 (3,047 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Benedict Anderson Narrator: Kevin Foley Publisher: Tantor Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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Imagined Communities, Benedict Anderson’s brilliant book on nationalism, forged a new field of study when it first appeared in 1983. Since then it has sold over a quarter of a million copies and is widely considered the most important book on the subject. In this greatly anticipated revised edition, Anderson updates and elaborates on the core question: what makes people live and die for nations, as well as hate and kill in their name?

Anderson examines the creation and global spread of the ‘imagined communities’ of nationality, and explores the processes that created these communities: the territorialization of religious faiths, the decline of antique kingship, the interaction between capitalism and print, the development of secular languages-of-state, and changing conceptions of time and space. He shows how an originary nationalism born in the Americas was adopted by popular movements in Europe, by imperialist powers, and by the anti-imperialist resistances in Asia and Africa.

In a new afterword, Anderson examines the extraordinary influence of Imagined Communities: he also explores the book’s international publication and reception, from its first publication towards the end of the Cold War era to the present day.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “[A] brilliant little book.”

    Observer (London)

  • “[S]parkling, readable, densely packed.”

    Guardian (London)

  • “Anderson’s knowlege of a vast range of relevant historical literature is most impressive; his presentation of the gist of it is both masterly and lucid.”

    New Statesman

Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Ralowe Ampu | 2/17/2014

    " this text is confusing. the point seems to be that the nation is merely a social ordering technology that is fun to dismiss, yet the writer frequently refers to nationalities as knowable entities, presumably to make the writing accessible, yet i noticed no caveat for this. i might have missed it, but he carries on so. would such a contradiction deserve better treatment than a footnote? i wished that he would just simply state what his unseemly predispositions were rather than insinuating through sociology. what winds up happening is the feeling that the only basis for a theory of the life of nationality outside of social construction is bias. there's material to source here for a both/and thesis of race despite the perils of anderson's voice. the usage of race as a coherent and solid entity, i.e. as 'black' is made to cohere for the consideration of 'the black question,' reminded me of marxists, so i decided anderson is a marxist. i don't know if he's really a marxist, but he does talk about benjamin twice at meaningful moments near the beginning and near the end of the text, presumably for emphasis. not that i mind marxists, until they start talking about race like that. and talking about race in a lot of different contexts with an ease that makes me kinda suspicious, in a way where i just have to wind up taking your word for it. he talks about a lot of different parts of the world in a way that kind of made me uncomfortable. like they were all supposed to make sense under one unifying concept (capitalism? class?) that never materially effects each place differently. even calling attention to that makes me sound like a globalization denialist. i'm not a globalization denialist. it's just that talking about too many different places as if they're all the same in some ways seems to just further globalization. but if you come into this being aware of the contingency/hegemony problem, you should be okay. i do feel that, assuming he is indeed a marxist, he shouldn't be making you do that extra work. who does that? someone who for this edition needs to add a lengthy ramble on the anecdotes surrounding the translation and publication history of the boo you've just read. i tried to figure out how i could care but i gave up. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Izetta Autumn | 1/16/2014

    " Read it. Especially if you are into or study cultural studies. This book was one of my formal introductions to identity politics and is part of the reason I study and do the work I do today. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Ash | 1/10/2014

    " I've read this book a number of times for different classes and always, ALWAYS find something new in it. Although many have now expanded on Anderson's work, his book is still a central piece in the literature of nationalism and nation-states. It can be a bit dense at times, but the dedicated reader will find much of value in it. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Celeste | 1/10/2014

    " One of my professors told me that this is currently the most cited book in the social sciences. A ground-breaking (in the eighties when it was published) study of the origins of nationalism, it nonetheless left me with some questions. And occasionally Benedict Anderson seems like he's been a little too clever in his wordplay and his refusal to translate large passages out of the French. "

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About the Author

Benedict Anderson is the Aaron L. Binenkorb professor of international studies Emeritus at Cornell University. He is the author of Language and Power: Exploring Political Cultures in Indonesia, The Spectre of Comparisons, and Under Three Flags: Anarchism and the Anti-Colonial Imagination.