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Hope and Memory: Lessons from the Twentieth Century

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Hope and Memory: Lessons from the Twentieth Century Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Both a political history and a moral critique of the twentieth century, this is a personal and impassioned book from one of Europe's most outstanding intellectuals. Identifying totalitarianism as the major innovation of the twentieth century, Tzvetan Todorov examines the struggle between this system and democracy and its effects on human life and consciousness.

Totalitarianism managed to impose itself because, more than any other political system, it played on people's need for the absolute: it fed their hope to endow life with meaning by taking part in the construction of a paradise on earth. As a result, millions of people lost their lives in the name of a higher good. While democracy eventually won the struggle against totalitarianism in much of the world, democracy itself is not immune to the pitfall of do-goodery: moral correctness at home and atomic or "humanitarian" bombs abroad.

Todorov explores the history of the past century not only by analyzing its spectacular political conflicts but also by offering moving profiles of several individuals who, at great personal cost, resisted the strictures of the communist and Nazi regimes. Some--Margarete Buber-Neumann, David Rousset, Primo Levi, and Germaine Tillion--were deported to concentration camps. Others--Vasily Grossman and Romain Gary--fought courageously in World War II. All became exemplary witnesses who described with great lucidity and humanity what they had endured.

This book preserves the memory of the past as we move into the twenty-first century--arguing eloquently that we must place the past at the service of a just future.

Review:

?Todorov warns that totalitarianism, a major, scary phenomenon of the last century, still lingers, while democracy is increasingly vulnerable?. Cal McCrystal, The Independent

Synopsis:

"Almost alone among contemporary critics, Tzvetan Todorov has chosen to apply his prodigious talents to the literature of twentieth-century totalitarianism. His unique gift is his ability to elucidate the memoirs and writings of some of the century's greatest survivors, not merely discovering their literary qualities but also finding in their works moral and political lessons relevant to us all."--Anne Applebaum

"This is a very rich book, full of interesting--and often highly controversial--conversation as well as moving portraits of striking figures of the century that has just passed. It is addressed to a general public very much engaged in discussing what the twentieth century was all about and where we are going from here."--Charles Taylor

Synopsis:

Both a political history and a moral critique of the twentieth century, this is a personal and impassioned book from one of Europe's most outstanding intellectuals. Identifying totalitarianism as the major innovation of the twentieth century, Tzvetan Todorov examines the struggle between this system and democracy and its effects on human life and consciousness.

Totalitarianism managed to impose itself because, more than any other political system, it played on people's need for the absolute: it fed their hope to endow life with meaning by taking part in the construction of a paradise on earth. As a result, millions of people lost their lives in the name of a higher good. While democracy eventually won the struggle against totalitarianism in much of the world, democracy itself is not immune to the pitfall of do-goodery: moral correctness at home and atomic or "humanitarian" bombs abroad.

Todorov explores the history of the past century not only by analyzing its spectacular political conflicts but also by offering moving profiles of several individuals who, at great personal cost, resisted the strictures of the communist and Nazi regimes. Some--Margarete Buber-Neumann, David Rousset, Primo Levi, and Germaine Tillion--were deported to concentration camps. Others--Vasily Grossman and Romain Gary--fought courageously in World War II. All became exemplary witnesses who described with great lucidity and humanity what they had endured.

This book preserves the memory of the past as we move into the twenty-first century--arguing eloquently that we must place the past at the service of a just future.

Table of Contents

List of Abbreviations and Acronyms vii

Preface to the English Edition ix

Prologue: the last hundred years 1

Chapter 1: What Went Wrong in the Twentieth Century 5

Our Liberal Democracies 5

The Ideal Type of Totalitarianism 14

Scientism and Humanism 19

The Birth of Totalitarian Doctrine 26

War As the Truth of Life 32

The Two-Edged Knife 40

The Achievement of Vasily Grossman 48

Chapter 2: Two of a Kind 74

Peas in a Pod 74

Apples and Oranges 82

The Reckoning 91

The Achievement of Margarete Buber-Neumann 93

Chapter 3: Preserving the Past 113

The Control of Memory 113

The Three Stages 119

Testimony, History, and Commemoration 129

Moral Judgment 134

Master Narratives 142

The Achievement of David Rousset 148

Chapter 4: The Uses of Memory 159

The Frying Pan and the Fire 159

Serving Purposes 164

What Memory Is For 168

The Achievement of Primo Levi 177

Chapter 5: The Past in the Present 187

"Moral Correctness" 187

History and Myth 197

History and the Law 205

The Achievement of Romain Gary 213

Chapter 6: The Perils of Democracy 228

The Hiroshima and Nagasaki Bombs 228

Kosovo: The Political Context 237

Military Intervention 251

Humanitarian Action and the Law 265

The Right to Interfere versus the Obligation to Aid 274

The Achievement of Germaine Tillion 291

epilogue: the next hundred years 311

Bibliography 319

Index 327

Product Details

ISBN:
9780691096582
Translator:
Bellos, David
Publisher:
Princeton University Press
Translator:
Bellos, David
Author:
Todorov, Tzvetan
Author:
Bellos, David
Location:
Princeton, N.J.
Subject:
General
Subject:
Modern - 20th Century
Subject:
20th century
Subject:
World politics
Subject:
History & Theory - General
Subject:
History, Criticism, Surveys
Subject:
Philosophy
Subject:
European History
Subject:
World politics -- 20th century.
Subject:
Politics - General
Copyright:
Series Volume:
O-01-03
Publication Date:
December 2003
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Grade Level:
College/higher education:
Language:
English
Pages:
368
Dimensions:
9 x 6 in 23 oz

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Related Subjects

History and Social Science » Politics » General
History and Social Science » World History » 1650 to Present

Hope and Memory: Lessons from the Twentieth Century New Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$61.75 In Stock
Product details 368 pages Princeton University Press - English 9780691096582 Reviews:
"Review" by , ?Todorov warns that totalitarianism, a major, scary phenomenon of the last century, still lingers, while democracy is increasingly vulnerable?.
"Synopsis" by , "Almost alone among contemporary critics, Tzvetan Todorov has chosen to apply his prodigious talents to the literature of twentieth-century totalitarianism. His unique gift is his ability to elucidate the memoirs and writings of some of the century's greatest survivors, not merely discovering their literary qualities but also finding in their works moral and political lessons relevant to us all."--Anne Applebaum

"This is a very rich book, full of interesting--and often highly controversial--conversation as well as moving portraits of striking figures of the century that has just passed. It is addressed to a general public very much engaged in discussing what the twentieth century was all about and where we are going from here."--Charles Taylor

"Synopsis" by , Both a political history and a moral critique of the twentieth century, this is a personal and impassioned book from one of Europe's most outstanding intellectuals. Identifying totalitarianism as the major innovation of the twentieth century, Tzvetan Todorov examines the struggle between this system and democracy and its effects on human life and consciousness.

Totalitarianism managed to impose itself because, more than any other political system, it played on people's need for the absolute: it fed their hope to endow life with meaning by taking part in the construction of a paradise on earth. As a result, millions of people lost their lives in the name of a higher good. While democracy eventually won the struggle against totalitarianism in much of the world, democracy itself is not immune to the pitfall of do-goodery: moral correctness at home and atomic or "humanitarian" bombs abroad.

Todorov explores the history of the past century not only by analyzing its spectacular political conflicts but also by offering moving profiles of several individuals who, at great personal cost, resisted the strictures of the communist and Nazi regimes. Some--Margarete Buber-Neumann, David Rousset, Primo Levi, and Germaine Tillion--were deported to concentration camps. Others--Vasily Grossman and Romain Gary--fought courageously in World War II. All became exemplary witnesses who described with great lucidity and humanity what they had endured.

This book preserves the memory of the past as we move into the twenty-first century--arguing eloquently that we must place the past at the service of a just future.

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