Bettina Berch, author of the recent biography, From Hester Street to Hollywood: The Life and Work of Anzia Yezierska, teaches part-time at the Borough of Manhattan Community College.
Thinking in Dark Times: Hannah Arendt on Ethics and Politics
In 2006, Bard College convened an international symposium to celebrate what would have been the 100th birthday of political theorist Hannah Arendt. The conference led to a book, but fortunately, a book with a difference. Each entry in this remarkably intelligent, passionate volume is the result of an oral presentation rather than vice versa, so there is less of the impenetrable jargon that so often plagues the festschrift, although no analysis of Arendt could be called easy reading. With relatively short entries from each of the 25 contributors, a variety of approaches to Arendt can be sampled. For instance, Peg Birmingham takes Arendt’s term, “a lying world order” and suggests its implications for the current ‘war on terror.’ Christopher Hitchens parses the contemporary meaning of ‘anti-Semitism’ in light of Arendt’s analyses. The most interesting essays for the Jewish reader are those exploring Arendt’s Jewish identity — her early history as a German refugee, her support for a world Jewish army brigade to fight the Nazis, the meaning of her analysis of the Eichmann trial in Jerusalem, and, more generally, her complex sense of herself as a Jew. While not a volume for the general reader, this anthology would be appropriate for any scholarly collection. Endnotes, index, photographs.
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