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4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 4.00 (1,768 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Hannah Arendt Narrator: Wanda McCaddon Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: December 2007 ISBN: 9781455188697
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A recognized classic and definitive account of its subject, The Origins of Totalitarianism traces the emergence of modern racism as an “ideological weapon for imperialism,” begining with the rise of anti-Semitism in Europe in the nineteenth century and continuing through the New Imperialism period from 1884 to World War I.

In her analysis of the institutions and operations of totalitarian movements, Arendt focuses on the two genuine forms of totalitarian government in the twentieth century: Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia, which she adroitly recognizes as two sides of the same coin rather than opposing philosophies of the Right and Left. From this vantage point, she discusses the transformation of classes into masses, the role of propaganda, and the use of terror essential to this form of government. In her brilliant concluding chapter, she discusses the nature of individual isolation and loneliness as preconditions for total domination.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “The work of one who has thought as well as suffered…A disquieting, moving, and thought-provoking book.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “The most influential single book on the theme of totalitarianism.”

    Foreign Affairs 50-Year Bibliography

  • “Looks at almost every pernicious trend in the last century’s politics with stunning subtlety.”

    Christopher Caldwell, National Review

  • “With The Origins of Totalitarianism, Hannah Arendt emerges as the most original and profound—therefore the most valuable—political theoretician of our times.”

    New Leader

  • An Amazon.com Bestseller

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Bill Zhou | 1/29/2014

    " If you still have some illusion for so-called "collectivism", please read this book and make yourself clear. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Elsie | 1/27/2014

    " She's amazing, but I've heard some convincing criticism, too. (That we can't interpret imperial cruelty from the Holocaust down.) "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Brendan | 1/26/2014

    " I like to underline important passages when I read, especially philosophical/sociological landmarks like this. But a few pages in I realized that I was just underlining everything. This is truly one of the densest, most well-written and well-argued books I've ever read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Damien | 1/26/2014

    " Alright, so I didn't read the whole thing. Good book, though. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Michael Williams | 1/13/2014

    " A very expansive work. Not possessed of a well-constructed argument or great empirical support but full of powerful and influential insights, nonetheless. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Dylan Suher | 1/3/2014

    " Her views on Anti-Semitism are mostly what my grandfather would have called "German Jewish thinking" and whenever she writes about America or Africa, it's frankly embarrassing. But when she's talking about European pre-war politics, she's absolutely on point. She has great insight into the basic human impulses at the heart of the great evils of the 20th century, insights which I found useful even when thinking about the Tea Party Movement. I found myself nostalgic (a blessedly rare mode for me) for the days when Arendt was a notable public intellectual: this book is written clearly and mostly free of jargon, but still strongly argued and well researched. Today, by contrast, we have Thomas Friedman. It also helps that she's a remarkable writer. The portions on statelessness, life in the camps and human loneliness are as about as moving as political thought gets. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Denise Derocher | 1/2/2014

    " Another guru of mine, Arendt's philosophy and gifted prose make for a straightforward yet somber, and at times scary, approach to this form of political unity. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Florencia | 1/2/2014

    " I did not finish this book, but what I read blew me away. The way it explores how we give in to Totalitarianism, the horror of the human truth that she confronts amazed me. I just think I was not ready to finish it, and it was not an easy beach reading:) "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 behemothing | 12/12/2013

    " sometimes i just don't know about you ms. arendt. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sharon | 11/11/2013

    " Important especially now. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Lorna Bracewell | 8/24/2013

    " I learned a TON about the history of European Jewry, colonialism and imperialism, and simultaneously, in typical Arendt fashion, a ton about human nature and the importance of and the challenges inherent in living an examined life. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Nate | 1/29/2013

    " A history lesson, a philosophical discussion. An amazing book, still timely, that allows you to delve deeply into tangible thought. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Cresten St.clair | 1/6/2013

    " Kinda boring, didn't get through the whole thing but I read everything that I was assigned in class. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 ömer | 11/25/2012

    " though not like what i had hoped before reading, it gives you some different viewpoints. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Sarahlou | 9/19/2012

    " don't always agree with her position, but i always respect and admire her fearlessness in the face of complex phenomena, as well as her formulations of them. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Demetri | 7/19/2012

    " genius. if a little unpolished. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Amanda | 7/11/2012

    " I skimmed through this one as I was writing my thesis last year. I find it hard to remember it precisely because I was going through so many books at the time. I do remember she made some interesting points about what makes a regime totalitarian, with some interesting insight into European history. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Sean Chick | 6/21/2012

    " This was the first real philosophy book I tried to tackle and it was worth it. Arendt is probably the best 20th century philosopher, in part because she asked political questions and avoided postmodernism. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Wm | 4/15/2012

    " Required historical reading. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jessica Keener | 1/25/2012

    " This book unequivocally helped me understand how things like genocide can and do happen. Timeless. One of the most important book of the last century. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 rosalie | 10/31/2011

    " This book seems even more relevant today. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Fran | 8/8/2011

    " splendid and profound reflection on the roots of totalitarianism "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jvalentine07 | 5/11/2011

    " A MUST READ IF ONE IS TO UNDERSTAND OUR WORLD TODAY. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Prakhar | 3/9/2011

    " Through Nazism and Stalinism, looks at almost every pernicious trend in the last century's politics with stunning subtlety. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Fran | 6/15/2010

    " splendid and profound reflection on the roots of totalitarianism "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Amanda | 1/26/2010

    " I skimmed through this one as I was writing my thesis last year. I find it hard to remember it precisely because I was going through so many books at the time. I do remember she made some interesting points about what makes a regime totalitarian, with some interesting insight into European history. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Don | 2/20/2009

    " I'm on my second consecutive read of this illuminating and seemingly sound book. She covers antisemitism, nationalism, racism, and then delves into details on Stalinism and Nazi Germany. Very eye opening. Very worth reading. "

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About the Author
Author Hannah Arendt

Hannah Arendt (1906–1975) was born in Hanover, Germany, fled to Paris in 1933, and came to the United States after the outbreak of World War II. She was editorial director of Schocken Books from 1946 to 1948. She taught at Berkeley, Princeton, the University of Chicago, and the New School for Social Research.

About the Narrator

Wanda McCaddon (a.k.a. Nadia May or Donada Peters) has narrated well over six hundred titles for major audiobook publishers, has earned numerous Earphones Awards, and was named a Golden Voice by AudioFile magazine.