Hope and Memory - Lessons from the Twentieth Century

ISBN-10: 0691096589

ISBN-13: 9780691096582

Edition: 2003

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Description:

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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Book details

List price: $55.00
Copyright year: 2003
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Publication date: 10/19/2003
Binding: Hardcover
Pages: 368
Size: 6.25" wide x 9.25" long x 1.25" tall
Weight: 1.452
Language: English

List of Abbreviations and Acronyms
Preface to the English Edition
Prologue: the last hundred years
What Went Wrong in the Twentieth Century
Our Liberal Democracies
The Ideal Type of Totalitarianism
Scientism and Humanism
The Birth of Totalitarian Doctrine
War As the Truth of Life
The Two-Edged Knife
The Achievement of Vasily Grossman
Two of a Kind
Peas in a Pod
Apples and Oranges
The Reckoning
The Achievement of Margarete Buber-Neumann
Preserving the Past
The Control of Memory
The Three Stages
Testimony, History, and Commemoration
Moral Judgment
Master Narratives
The Achievement of David Rousset
The Uses of Memory
The Frying Pan and the Fire
Serving Purposes
What Memory Is For
The Achievement of Primo Levi
The Past in the Present
"Moral Correctness"
History and Myth
History and the Law
The Achievement of Romain Gary
The Perils of Democracy
The Hiroshima and Nagasaki Bombs
Kosovo: The Political Context
Military Intervention
Humanitarian Action and the Law
The Right to Interfere versus the Obligation to Aid
The Achievement of Germaine Tillion
epilogue: the next hundred years
Bibliography
Index
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