Learning from the Germans: Confronting Race and the Memory of Evil

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Penguin Books Limited, Aug 27, 2019 - History - 432 pages
3 Reviews
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'An ambitious and engrossing investigation of the moral legacies which stubbornly refuse to pass' Brendan Simms

As the western world struggles with its legacies of racism and colonialism, what can we learn from the past in order to move forward?

Susan Neiman's Learning from the Germans delivers an urgently needed perspective on how a country can come to terms with its historical wrongdoings. Neiman, who grew up as a white girl in the American South during the civil rights movement, is a Jewish woman who has spent much of her adult life in Berlin. In clear and gripping prose, she uses this unique perspective to combine philosophical reflection, personal history and conversations with both Americans and Germans who are grappling with the evils of their own national histories.

Through focusing on the particularities of those histories, she provides examples for other nations, whether they are facing resurgent nationalism, ongoing debates over reparations or controversies surrounding historical monuments and the contested memories they evoke. It is necessary reading for all those confronting their own troubled pasts.

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User Review  - rivkat - LibraryThing

Starts with a powerful idea borrowed from Tzvetan Todorov: “Germans should talk about the singularity of the Holocaust, Jews should talk about its universality.” The former is taking responsibility ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - hemlokgang - LibraryThing

What can Americans learn from the Germans about "working off our past" in terms of slavery? Susan Neiman, an American Jew who has taught philosophy in Israel and now lives in Berlin, offers insight ... Read full review

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About the author (2019)

Susan Neiman is an American philosopher, cultural commentator and essayist. She writes for wide-ranging international audiences on the juncture between Enlightenment moral philosophy, metaphysics and politics. Formerly a professor of philosophy at Yale University and Tel Aviv University, she is a member of the American Philosophical Society and the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences. Her previous books, translated into many languages, include Slow Fire: Jewish Notes from Berlin, The Unity of Reason, Evil in Modern Thought, Moral Clarity: A Guide for Grown-up Idealists and Why Grow Up? She currently lives in Berlin, Germany, where she is the director of the Einstein Forum.

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