Postwar: A History of Europe Since 1945

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Title Postwar: A History of Europe Since 1945
Author Tony Judt
ISBN 978-0-1430-3775-0

“Post-national, welfare-state, cooperative, pacific Europe was not born of the optimistic, ambitious, forward-looking project imagined in fond retrospect by today’s Euro-idealists. It was the insecure child of anxiety.”

PostwarWisdom is the product of time and experience. A Marxist/Zionist as a young man, British historian and essayist Tony Judt (1948-2010) became a self-described “universalist social-democrat” only later in life. Not one to obfuscate the knowledge gained by progressive insight, Mr Judt seldom failed to surprise. After a stint at a kibbutz during the 1967 Six-Day War, Mr Judt started to question the premise of the Zionist enterprise. He caused an uproar in 2003 with an essay published in the New York Review of Books that described Israel as “a belligerently intolerant, faith-driven ethno state.”

Nonetheless the voice of reason for an entire generation, Mr Judt remained a teacher of history first. The writing of books, essays, and commentaries appeared further down the list of priorities. Originally a specialist in French history, Mr Judt’s broadened the scope of his research and in 2005 produced Postwar: A History of Europe Since 1945 which was promptly branded a masterwork. The book, of encyclopaedic proportions, traces the rise of the European Union and the demise of communism. In this, Mr Judt offers the readers a narrative that includes both halves of the previously divided continent and includes coverage of key events in the oft-overlooked minor powers.

Mr Judt warns that if World War II indeed holds moral lessons, these “need to be taught afresh with each passing generation.” He further argues, convincingly, that the European Union may indeed be an answer to history, but cannot ever be a substitute for it.

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