Thinking the Twentieth Century by Tony Judt with Timothy Snyder

This is a rather serious and intense book but the format makes it harder to understand than it needs to be.

Tony Judt was a fantastic writer, intellectual and historian and this book was created during the last years of his life, when a debilitating degenerative condition made it physically impossible for him to write. His friend and colleague Timothy Snyder proposed a series of conversations, during which they would review and reflect on the history of the twentieth century. These conversations are the basis of this book, transcribed as it was always envisaged they would be.

Each section is introduced by Judt, with the remainder consisting of a conversation with Snyder. It would be hard to imagine two more expert and learned conversationalists. But the format is a bit distracting, and themes come and go.

It is a valiant adoption of an unusual approach to create something between a memoir and an extended interview. But it is just too diffuse to recommend to any but the most committed reader of the great Tony Judt, in my opinion.


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