100 books like Between Past and Future

By Hannah Arendt, Jerome Kohn,

Here are 100 books that Between Past and Future fans have personally recommended if you like Between Past and Future. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Postwar: A History of Europe Since 1945

Adin Dobkin Author Of Sprinting Through No Man's Land: Endurance, Tragedy, and Rebirth in the 1919 Tour de France

From my list on people and societies grapple with the end of wars.

Who am I?

Before I started writing, my understanding of war largely came about through its manifestation over subsequent decades in individuals. My grandfather selectively shared stories from his time as a bomber, then as a POW in Germany. Maybe it was this conjunction, a personal sense of rebuilding and of storytelling, that has driven my interest in the subject over these years, as a journalist and critic and then as an author of a book on the subject.

Adin's book list on people and societies grapple with the end of wars

Adin Dobkin Why did Adin love this book?

My own background, process, and style have me reaching for ever-tinier stories that I think I can go deep on, in order to hopefully excavate something larger. Judt’s Postwar is the opposite: a colossal swing at a multi-decade period across European history. In this, he synthesizes political, economic, social, and cultural histories to guide the reader through Europe’s development after World War II. It’s a book where you find yourself going over each line a few times in order to make sure you’ve wrung all meaning from it and every sentence returns you to your notes.

By Tony Judt,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Postwar as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Finalist for the Pulitzer Prize * Winner of the Council on Foreign Relations Arthur Ross Book Award * One of the New York Times' Ten Best Books of the Year

"Impressive . . . Mr. Judt writes with enormous authority." -The Wall Street Journal

"Magisterial . . . It is, without a doubt, the most comprehensive, authoritative, and yes, readable postwar history." -The Boston Globe

Almost a decade in the making, this much-anticipated grand history of postwar Europe from one of the world's most esteemed historians and intellectuals is a singular achievement. Postwar is the first modern history that covers…


Book cover of The Prince

Keith Grint Author Of Leadership: A Very Short Introduction

From my list on understanding why we get the leaders we do.

Who am I?

There’s something about leadership that intrigues me. I was an army child and that might help explain why I was expelled from school and had a rather unorthodox pre-academic career: I had fourteen jobs in nine years between leaving school and starting university, and several of those involved significant leadership roles that clashed with managerial authority. Both my undergraduate degrees and my doctorate were focused on trying to understand how authority worked, so it was almost inevitable that I ended up as a leadership scholar. But my greatest achievements have been co-founding the journal Leadership in 2005 and its related International Studying Leadership Conference, now in its 20th year.

Keith's book list on understanding why we get the leaders we do

Keith Grint Why did Keith love this book?

Machiavelli is often despised as the man who promoted both authoritarian leaders and the notion that the ends justify the means, but this is to misunderstand the importance of the context within which he was writing: 16th century Florence – which was besieged by enemies on every side who proclaimed adherence to the Christian faith but acted as monsters. Machiavelli’s writing made two things clear to me. First, leaders and leadership cannot be understood if you abstract them from their context – when political morality is a contradiction in terms then leaders must be wary of sacrificing their followers for the sake of that same fallacious morality. Second, he lays out how dictators obtain and retain power – and in doing so establishes what we need to do to stop them or remove them. 

By Niccolò Machiavelli, Tim Parks (translator),

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked The Prince as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Here is the world's most famous master plan for seizing and holding power.  Astonishing in its candor The Prince even today remains a disturbingly realistic and prophetic work on what it takes to be a prince . . . a king . . . a president.  When, in 1512, Machiavelli was removed from his post in his beloved Florence, he resolved to set down a treatise on leadership that was practical, not idealistic.  In The Prince he envisioned would be unencumbered by ordinary ethical and moral values; his prince would be man and beast, fox and lion.  Today, this small…


Book cover of Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin

Ursula Wong Author Of Amber Wolf

From my list on WWII and Eastern Europe (that you may not know about).

Who am I?

I’m a Lithuanian-American with a Chinese name, thanks to my husband. Thirty years ago, I found papers among my uncle’s possessions telling a WWII story about our ancestral Lithuania. I had heard about it in broad terms, but I could hardly believe what I was reading. I spent years validating the material. The result was Amber Wolf, a historical novel about a war within the war: the fight against the Russian occupation of Eastern Europe. While many countries were involved in separate struggles, I focused on Lithuania and their David and Goliath fight against the Russian army. After all this time, the story still moves me.

Ursula's book list on WWII and Eastern Europe (that you may not know about)

Ursula Wong Why did Ursula love this book?

Bloodlands is a story about the dead. Using archives made available after the break-up of the Soviet Union, Mr. Snyder sheds light on both Stalin’s and Hitler’s brutality.

In a confined area that includes just eastern Poland, Ukraine, Belarus, and the Baltic countries, 14 million civilians died from the 1930s to the end of the war. Most were either starved or shot. Even more startling were the plans to kill millions more.

Stalin said, “a single death is a tragedy, a million deaths are a statistic.” Mr. Snyder reminds us of the tragedy.

By Timothy Snyder,

Why should I read it?

9 authors picked Bloodlands as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Americans call the Second World War "the Good War." But before it even began, America's ally Stalin had killed millions of his own citizens-and kept killing them during and after the war. Before Hitler was defeated, he had murdered six million Jews and nearly as many other Europeans. At war's end, German and Soviet killing sites fell behind the Iron Curtain, leaving the history of mass killing in darkness.
?
Assiduously researched, deeply humane, and utterly definitive, Bloodlands is a new kind of European history, presenting the mass murders committed by the Nazi and Stalinist regimes as two aspects of…


Book cover of Toward Perpetual Peace and Other Writings on Politics, Peace, and History

Matt Qvortrup Author Of Referendums and Ethnic Conflict

From my list on deep thinkers of politics, democracy, and philosophy.

Who am I?

"Why don’t they want to have their own country?” I asked this question as I was 12 years old and we were watching the results of the Quebec independence referendums coming in. The Quebecois nationalists had lost- and lost big. And I wanted to know why. I grew up in a political family but none of the adults were able to give me an answer. So, I began to do research on my own. Being a bit of an obsessive, my interest in referendums took me to Oxford University, and as a professor I have specialised in direct democracy. I have advised the US State Department and the British Foreign Office on referendums around the world – and written several books on democracy. 

Matt's book list on deep thinkers of politics, democracy, and philosophy

Matt Qvortrup Why did Matt love this book?

Immanuel Kant is often seen as a pure philosopher, one who was interested in abstract principles. He was that, but his essays on "Perpetual Peace" and especially his essay "Idea for a Universal History from a Cosmopolitan Perspective" are literally the best things I have ever read, and have so much resonance for us today.

Democracies tend not to go to war as much as dictatorships because the people are likely to be the ones who are killed on the battlefield. In Kant’s time Frederick the Great was able to go to war whenever he wanted. Today, Vladimir Putin can go to war without asking anyone and the people, and Russian conscripts too – suffer the consequences. Kant’s experience of living in a militarised state governed by a single man is eerily relevant today. Reading this thinker tells as much about contemporary politics as it teaches us about 18th…

By Immanuel Kant, David L. Colclasure (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Toward Perpetual Peace and Other Writings on Politics, Peace, and History as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Immanuel Kant's views on politics, peace, and history have lost none of their relevance since their publication more than two centuries ago. This volume contains a comprehensive collection of Kant's writings on international relations theory and political philosophy, superbly translated and accompanied by stimulating essays.
Pauline Kleingeld provides a lucid introduction to the main themes of the volume, and three essays by distinguished contributors follow: Jeremy Waldron on Kant's theory of the state; Michael W. Doyle on the implications of Kant's political theory for his theory of international relations; and Allen W. Wood on Kant's philosophical approach to history and…


Book cover of On Liberty

Matt Qvortrup Author Of Referendums and Ethnic Conflict

From my list on deep thinkers of politics, democracy, and philosophy.

Who am I?

"Why don’t they want to have their own country?” I asked this question as I was 12 years old and we were watching the results of the Quebec independence referendums coming in. The Quebecois nationalists had lost- and lost big. And I wanted to know why. I grew up in a political family but none of the adults were able to give me an answer. So, I began to do research on my own. Being a bit of an obsessive, my interest in referendums took me to Oxford University, and as a professor I have specialised in direct democracy. I have advised the US State Department and the British Foreign Office on referendums around the world – and written several books on democracy. 

Matt's book list on deep thinkers of politics, democracy, and philosophy

Matt Qvortrup Why did Matt love this book?

While the cover only lists John Stuart as the author, he acknowledged in his autobiography that the book was “directly and literally our joint production” with his wife Harriet. And certainly, the book has a different tone than ‘his’ other works; less academic, and more lively. Anyway, what they wanted to show was that the “only way in which a human being can make some approach to knowing the whole of a subject, is by hearing what can be said about it by persons of every variety of opinion, and studying all modes in which it can be looked at by every character of mind.” This is so relevant today when autocrats from Beijing, through Moscow, to Budapest are muzzling voices with different degrees of severity. All silencing of discussion is an assumption of infallibility. And the evidence shows that dictators and despots are fallible. Democracy works. Dictatorship does not.…

By John Stuart Mill,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked On Liberty as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Discussed and debated from time immemorial, the concept of personal liberty went without codification until the 1859 publication of On Liberty. John Stuart Mill's complete and resolute dedication to the cause of freedom inspired this treatise, an enduring work through which the concept remains well known and studied.
The British economist, philosopher, and ethical theorist's argument does not focus on "the so-called Liberty of the Will…but Civil, or Social Liberty: the nature and limits of the power which can be legitimately exercised by society over the individual." Mill asks and answers provocative questions relating to the boundaries of social authority…


Book cover of Aristotle's Politics

Matt Qvortrup Author Of Referendums and Ethnic Conflict

From my list on deep thinkers of politics, democracy, and philosophy.

Who am I?

"Why don’t they want to have their own country?” I asked this question as I was 12 years old and we were watching the results of the Quebec independence referendums coming in. The Quebecois nationalists had lost- and lost big. And I wanted to know why. I grew up in a political family but none of the adults were able to give me an answer. So, I began to do research on my own. Being a bit of an obsessive, my interest in referendums took me to Oxford University, and as a professor I have specialised in direct democracy. I have advised the US State Department and the British Foreign Office on referendums around the world – and written several books on democracy. 

Matt's book list on deep thinkers of politics, democracy, and philosophy

Matt Qvortrup Why did Matt love this book?

Reading Aristotle is easier than you might think. Even those who are not able to read him in the original Greek cannot fail to be enamoured by his enthusiasm. What is so fascinating about Aristotle’s Politika (in English normally translated as The Politics) is the way this enormously erudite man got carried away babbling and digressing in his lectures. Aristotle, simply, could not help but tell his students about a certain Hippodamus (“the son of Eryphon”). This 5th Century BC Athenian was, “the first man not engaged in politics to speak on the subject of the best Constitution,” and, according to Aristotle, this first philosopher of politics, was, “somewhat eccentric in his general mode of life owing to his desire for distinction [he] lived fussily, with a quantity of hair and expensive ornaments and a quantity of cheap clothes – not only in winter but also in the…

By Aristotle, Carnes Lord (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Aristotle's Politics as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

One of the fundamental works of Western political thought, Aristotle's masterwork is the first systematic treatise on the science of politics. For almost three decades, Carnes Lord's justly acclaimed translation has served as the standard English edition. Widely regarded as the most faithful to both the original Greek and Aristotle's distinctive style, it is also written in clear, contemporary English. This new edition of the Politics retains and adds to Lord's already extensive notes, clarifying the flow of Aristotle's argument and identifying literary and historical references. A glossary defines key terms in Aristotle's philosophical-political vocabulary. Lord has made revisions to…


Book cover of The Past as Future

Peter J. Verovšek Author Of Memory and the Future of Europe: Rupture and Integration in the Wake of Total War

From my list on memory and postwar Europe.

Who am I?

I am an international political and critical theorist interested in the way that key events and experiences from the past continue to affect politics in the present. I was born in the US but moved back to Slovenia when I was in high school, before returning to the states to attend Dartmouth College as an undergraduate, and Yale University for my doctoral studies in political science. This international, bi-continental background – as well as my own family’s history of migration following World War II – has fueled my interest in twentieth-century European history, collective memory and European integration. 

Peter's book list on memory and postwar Europe

Peter J. Verovšek Why did Peter love this book?

In addition to being postwar Germany’s most important philosopher, Habermas is also its leading public intellectual. In this volume of his “short political writings” Habermas develops his ideas on a number of concrete issues in the memory politics of postwar Europe that emerged in the early 1990s – including conservative attempts to normalize the Holocaust, the effects of German unification, and the implications of the fall of communism for the EU – in an accessible manner through a series of interviews. This format also allows him to open up the question of the status of public intellectuals and their role in the democratic public sphere, which is the subject of my current book project on Habermas as a public intellectual.

By Jurgen Habermas, Max Pensky (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Past as Future as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Jurgen Habermas is one of the best-known and most influential philosophers in Europe today. Heir to the Frankfurt school, his reputation rests on more than thirty years of groundbreaking works on society knowledge, history, technology; ethics, and many other subjects. He is also a familiar figure in his native Germany where he has often played a prominent role in public de-bates. In recent years, he has spoken out ever more directly on the extraordinary changes taking place in Germany, Europe, and the world.

This volume of interviews reveals Habermas's passionate engagement with contemporary issues. Wide-ranging and informal, the interviews focus…


Book cover of The Politics of Memory in Postwar Europe

Peter J. Verovšek Author Of Memory and the Future of Europe: Rupture and Integration in the Wake of Total War

From my list on memory and postwar Europe.

Who am I?

I am an international political and critical theorist interested in the way that key events and experiences from the past continue to affect politics in the present. I was born in the US but moved back to Slovenia when I was in high school, before returning to the states to attend Dartmouth College as an undergraduate, and Yale University for my doctoral studies in political science. This international, bi-continental background – as well as my own family’s history of migration following World War II – has fueled my interest in twentieth-century European history, collective memory and European integration. 

Peter's book list on memory and postwar Europe

Peter J. Verovšek Why did Peter love this book?

Although this is my final recommendation, this book is where my interest in the topic of memory and the political, intellectual, and social development of postwar Europe began. As an undergraduate student at Dartmouth College, I had the opportunity to assist my advisor, Ned Lebow, with the preparation of this volume. Following a short theoretical introduction to the paradigm of collective memory, this collection then presents chapters on the specific dynamics of the politics of remembrance in various European states written by local country specialists. This is both a great read and a great resource for further information on the dynamics of postwar memory across the continent.

By Richard Ned Lebow (editor), Wulf Kansteiner (editor), Claudio Fogu (editor)

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Politics of Memory in Postwar Europe as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

For sixty years, different groups in Europe have put forth interpretations of World War II and their respective countries' roles in it consistent with their own political and psychological needs. The conflict over the past has played out in diverse arenas, including film, memoirs, court cases, and textbooks. It has had profound implications for democratization and relations between neighboring countries. This collection provides a comparative case study of how memories of World War II have been constructed and revised in seven European nations: France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Poland, Italy, and the USSR (Russia). The contributors include scholars of history, literature,…


Book cover of The Philosophical Discourse of Modernity: Twelve Lectures

Richard Wolin Author Of Heidegger in Ruins: Between Philosophy and Ideology

From my list on intellectuals and fascism.

Who am I?

As a graduate student during the late 1970s, my mentor, Martin Jay, generously introduced me to two members of the Frankfurt School: Herbert Marcuse and Leo Lowenthal. These memorable personal encounters inspired me to write a dissertation on Walter Benjamin, who was closely allied with the Frankfurt School. The completed dissertation, Walter Benjamin: An Aesthetic of Redemption, became the first book on Benjamin in English and is still in print. The Frankfurt School thinkers published a series of pioneering socio-psychological treatises on political authoritarianism: The Authoritarian Personality, Prophets of Deceit, and One-Dimensional Man. These studies continue to provide an indispensable conceptual framework for understanding the contemporary reemergence of fascist political forms.

Richard's book list on intellectuals and fascism

Richard Wolin Why did Richard love this book?

During the early 1990s, I had the good fortune to participate in Habermas’ legendary Monday night philosophy colloquium at the University of Frankfurt.

The experience transformed my understanding of the raison d’être of Critical Theory. The Philosophical Discourse of Modernity is not a book about fascism per se. Instead, it tells the story of how, after the war, the titans of interwar German Kulturpessimismus – Nietzsche (albeit, posthumously), Carl Schmitt, and Heidegger – were canonized by the leading advocates of “French Theory” as the new maîtres à penser or “master thinkers.”

Yet, the canonization of German philosophy came at a high cost. After all, historically speaking, the philosophies in question stood in close proximity to fascist ideology.

Hence, the question arises: to what extent did such pro-fascist “ideologemes” infiltrate and inform the basic tenets of French poststructuralism?

By Jurgen Habermas, Frederick G. Lawrence (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Philosophical Discourse of Modernity as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This critique of French philosophy and the history of German philosophy is a tour de force that has the immediacy and accessibility of the lecture form and the excitement of an encounter across national cultural boundaries as Habermas takes up the challenge posed by the radical critique of reason in contemporary French postmodernism.

The Philosophical Discourse of Modernity is a tour de force that has the immediacy and accessibility of the lecture form and the excitement of an encounter across, national cultural boundaries. Habermas takes up the challenge posed by the radical critique of reason in contemporary French poststructuralism. Tracing…


Book cover of The Climate of History in a Planetary Age

Jeremy Bendik-Keymer Author Of Involving Anthroponomy in the Anthropocene: On Decoloniality

From my list on how we got to climate change and mass extinction.

Who am I?

I’m the grandson of a coal miner from a multi-generational, Ohio family. What matters most to me is having some integrity and being morally okay with folks. I never thought of myself as an environmentalist, just as someone trying to figure out what we should be learning to be decent people in this sometimes messed-up world. From there, I was taken into our environmental situation, its planetary injustice, and then onto studying the history of colonialism. This adventure cracked open my midwestern common sense and made me rethink things. Happily, it has only reinforced my commitment to, and faith in, moral relations, giving our word, being accountable, and caring.

Jeremy's book list on how we got to climate change and mass extinction

Jeremy Bendik-Keymer Why did Jeremy love this book?

I love how Dipesh’s book shows a historian at the height of his powers explaining how history has become geological. Decades ago, Chakrabarty began as someone arguing for a history that made Europe “provincial”. Now he argues that all human history is relative to planetary time. His writing is infused with humanism and is up to date on Earth System Science.

By Dipesh Chakrabarty,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Climate of History in a Planetary Age as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

For the past decade, historian Dipesh Chakrabarty has been one of the most influential scholars addressing the meaning of climate change. Climate change, he argues, upends long-standing ideas of history, modernity, and globalization. The burden of The Climate of History in a Planetary Age is to grapple with what this means and to confront humanities scholars with ideas they have been reluctant to reconsider-from the changed nature of human agency to a new acceptance of universals.

Chakrabarty argues that we must see ourselves from two perspectives at once: the planetary and the global. This distinction is central to Chakrabarty's work-the…


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