Thinking in Dark Times
13th November 2009
This week’s issue of Publisher’s Weekly features a review of the new collection Thinking in Dark Times: Hannah Arendt on Ethics and Politics, forthcoming from Fordham Press in January.
Thinking in Dark Times: Hannah Arendt on Ethics and Politics Edited by Roger Berkowitz, Thomas Keenan and Jeffrey Katz. Fordham Univ., $28 (288p) ISBN 978-0-8232-3076-1
Artfully balancing conceptual precision and editorial care with a deep sense of urgency, this volume of essays on one of the 20th century’s great theorists of totalitarianism and anti-Semitism offers a stimulating examination of Arendt’s political and philosophical writings. The pieces analyze the sociopolitical ramifications of her life as well as more focused discussions of key topics in the social and the political realms. Cathy Caruth offers an exemplary reading of the relationship between the Pentagon Papers and Arendt’s notion of the modern political lie that attempts not simply to cover over mistakes but to replace reality entirely by fabricating new histories. Uday Mehta gives a fascinating outline of Arendt’s views on politics and terror, while Christopher Hitchens offers some brief, idiosyncratic reflections on anti-Semitism. Contributors return repeatedly to Arendt’s 1963 coverage of the trial of Nazi official Adolf Eichmann. The essays lack a consensus on Arendt’s notion of the “banality of evil,” but it is precisely the rich variety of interpretations together with a wonderful selection of images from her personal library that make the collection so compelling. (Jan.)