Thinking Without a Bannister: Essays in Understanding, 1953–1975

Hannah Arendt, edited by Jerome Kohn. Schocken, $40 (608p) ISBN 978-0-8052-4215-7
This collection of erudite writings from esteemed political theorist Arendt (1906–1975) consists of essays, reviews, speeches, letters, and interviews published during the latter days of her career. Though perhaps best known for her studies of European totalitarian movements, Arendt took a keen interest in American politics, as shown here. The selections include ruminations on some of the most quintessential events of modern American history, including the civil rights movement and the Vietnam War. In “Kennedy and After,” she reflects on JFK after his assassination, deeming him a great politician who “elevated politics... to a new, higher level.” The book also acts as a continuation of and extensive postscript for some of Arendt’s best-known theories. In an introduction for a revised edition of her classic The Origins of Totalitarianism, she finds a cause for hope in the 1956 Hungarian Revolution, despite its ultimate failure, admitting, “I am not sure that I am right in my hopefulness, but I am convinced that it is as important to present all of the inherent hopes of a present as it is to confront ruthlessly all its intrinsic despairs.” Here and elsewhere, the collection gives rare insights into Arendt’s personal opinions and reflections on her own work. his collection contains a variety that will be illuminating and fascinating for both Arendt novices and experts. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 03/12/2018
Release date: 03/06/2018
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 608 pages - 978-0-8052-1165-8
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