Very Short Introductions: Brilliant, Sharp, Inspiring Hannah Arendt (1906-1975) was one of the major intellectual figures of the twentieth century. Born in Konigsberg to secular Jewish parents, she was a student of the two major exponents of Existenz philosophy in Germany, Karl Jaspers and Martin Heidegger. Arendt escaped Nazi Germany in 1933, traveling first to Paris and then in 1940 to the United States, where she gained citizenship in 1951.
As director of the Jewish Cultural Reconstruction she oversaw the collection and presentation of over 1.5million articles of Judaica and Hebraica that had been hidden from or looted by the Nazis. This Very Short Introduction explores the philosophical ideas and political theories belonging to one of the most important thinkers of the twentieth century. As a survivor of the Holocaust, Arendt’s life informed her work exploring the meaning and construction of power, evil, totalitarianism, and direct democracy.
Through insightful readings of Arendt’s best-known works, from The Origins of Totalitarianism (1951) to The Life of the Mind (1978), Dana Villa traces theimportance of Arendt’s ideas for today’s reader. In so doing, Villa explains how Arendt gained world-wide fame with the publication of Origins, and went on to have a distinguished career as a political theorist and public intellectual. A sometimes controversial figure, Arendt is now recognised as one of the most importantpolitical thinkers of the twentieth century and her works have become an acknowledged part of the Western canon of political theory and philosophy.
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