Hannah Arendt and Martin Heidegger were two of the leading thinkers of the early20th century. Arendt was Heidegger’s student and she became his lover. When the Nazis gained power in Germany, Heidegger joined them. Arendt, a Jew, fled Germany and eventually moved to New York where she taught at the New School for Social Research. Her controversial writings on the nature of totalitarianism and the Eichmann trial, her reflections on “the banality of evil,” and her quest to create a decent society of human beings who can relate to one another show that she was a complex thinker. Her criticism of both Nazism and Zionism as dangerous ethnocentric movements also demonstrates this. Her ability to forgive Heidegger shows that she believed in the possibility of new beginnings. This thought-provoking book will encourage readers to examine their personal beliefs as they gain insight into an important scholar.
Barbara M. Bibel is a librarian at the Oakland Public Library in Oakland, CA; and at Congregation Netivot Shalom, Berkeley, CA.