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In a career spanning more than sixty-five years, John Lukacs has established himself as one of our most accomplished historians. Now, in the stimulating book History and the Human Condition, Lukacs offers his profound reflections on the very nature of history, the role of the historian, the limits of knowledge, and more.
Guiding us on a quest for knowledge, Lukacs ranges far and wide over the past two centuries. The pursuit takes us from Alexis de Tocqueville to the atomic bomb, from American “exceptionalism” to Nazi expansionism, from the closing of the American frontier to the passing of the modern age.
Lukacs’s insights about the past have important implications for the present and future. In chronicling the twentieth-century decline of liberalism and rise of conservatism, for example, he forces us to rethink the terms of the liberal-versus-conservative debate. In particular, he shows that what passes for “conservative” in the twenty-first century often bears little connection to true conservatism.
Lukacs concludes by shifting his gaze from the broad currents of history to the world immediately around him. His reflections on his home, his town, his career, and his experiences as an immigrant to the United States illuminate deeper truths about America, the unique challenges of modernity, the sense of displacement and atomization that increasingly characterizes twenty-first-century life, and much more. Moving and insightful, this closing section focuses on the human in history, masterfully displaying how right Lukacs is in his contention that history, at its best, is personal and participatory.
History and the Human Condition is a fascinating work by one of the finest historians of our time. More than that, it is perhaps John Lukacs’s final word on the great themes that have defined him as a historian and a writer.
Publisher: Intercollegiate Studies Institute (ORD)