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4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 4.00 (245 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Tony Judt Narrator: Ralph Cosham Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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An unprecedented and original history of intellectual life throughout the past century

Thinking the Twentieth Century is the final book of unparalleled historian and indomitable public critic Tony Judt. Where Judt’s masterpiece Postwar redefined the history of modern Europe by uniting the stories of its eastern and western halves, Thinking the Twentieth Century unites the century’s conflicted intellectual history into a single soaring narrative. The twentieth century comes to life as the age of ideas—a time when, for good or for ill, the thoughts of the few reigned over the lives of the many. Judt presents the triumphs and the failures of public intellectuals, adeptly extracting the essence of their ideas and explaining the risks of their involvement in politics. Spanning the entire era and all currents of thought in a manner never previously attempted, Thinking the Twentieth Century is a triumphant tour de force that restores clarity to the classics of modern thought with the assurance and grace of a master craftsman.

The exceptional nature of this work is evident in its very structure—a series of luminous conversations between Judt and his friend and fellow historian Timothy Snyder, grounded in the texts of their trade and focused by the intensity of their vision. Judt’s astounding eloquence and range of reference are here on display as never before. Traversing the century’s complexities with ease, he and Snyder revive both thoughts and thinkers, guiding us through the debates that made our world. As forgotten treasures are unearthed and overrated thinkers are dismantled, the shape of a century emerges. Judt and Snyder make us partners in their project as we learn the ways to think like a historian or even like a public intellectual. We begin to experience the power of historical perspective for the critique and reform of society and for the pursuit of the good and the true from day to day.

In restoring, and indeed exemplifying, the best of the intellectual life of the twentieth century, Thinking the Twentieth Century charts a pathway for moral life in the twenty-first. An incredible achievement, this book is about the life of the mind—and about the mindful life.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “An intellectual feast, learned, lucid, challenging, and accessible.”

    San Francisco Chronicle

  • “Fans will find plenty to sustain them in this poignant coda to a life marked by great feats of penmanship, scholarly insight and contemporary polemic…[Judt’s] bravery is ever-present, but rightly understated. As Mr. Snyder notes in his introduction, the book is both about the life of the mind and a mindful life. Judt exemplified both.”


  • “A lively, browsable, deeply satisfying meditation on recent history by a deservedly celebrated public intellectual.”

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  • “The two authors range over the entire twentieth century, focusing on the ideas that shaped it rather than events…Essential reading for anyone who purports to be well educated.”

    Library Journal

  • “Two brilliant scholars parse the politics and economics of the past one hundred years. That could be a dry task, but for the quiet passion of Judt and Snyder…Social democracy has rarely had better-informed, more ethically rigorous advocates than these two distinguished men…For readers who like to be challenged, this searching look at our recent history provides a firm intellectual and moral foundation for understanding the dilemmas of our time.”

    Kirkus Reviews

Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Brian Cole | 2/20/2014

    " A very indepth conversation of two scholars about Eastern and Western Europe from the 1930's onward to include in the last chapter some interesting thoughts about the United States. Very hard plowing at first but a very interesting last chapter. The older scholar, Tony Judt, has ALS and died by the time the book was printed. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Richard | 1/17/2014

    " Intriguing, thoughtful, provoking. A "spoken book" that complements Judt's other work, from Past Imperfect through Postwar but with a lot more besides. Anyone interested in mid- to late twentieth century history, especially in regard to Europe, should give this one a serious look. "

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

    " Judt is the Stephen Hawking of history. Enjoyed this book a lot and saw things from a different perspective. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Jim Talbott | 1/9/2014

    " I really enjoyed this... You get to sit in on really brilliant people having a brilliant conversation. In truth though, it moves so fast that it feels like a blur. It's a bit like Postwar in that way. "

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