polemical essays so much, and his collected musings on the role of intellectuals in twentieth-century history, I decided to get a copy of his most famous book: Postwar (2005). This is a 900-page history of Europe from the end of World War II to 2004, the sort of work that gets called "magisterial." It is Olympian in tone; if it were fiction the narrator would be called "omniscient." Judt attempted to strike several different sorts of balance: between East and West, between left and right, between mentioning events in almost every country and focusing on the most important actors, between political and social history, between polemic and strict description. Wherever possible he tries to make connections between disparate phenomena, especially between events in different parts of Europe and between intellectual, political, social, and economic developments. It is an impressive achievement.
this reviewer, who is mostly negative about Judt's work but calls Postwar his "masterpiece." Perhaps people simply find it refreshing to read about recent, ideologically-charged events, some of them still used as partisan talking points, in an even-handed textbook style. It occurs to me as I write that perhaps many people have a checkered knowledge of this period, bits and pieces that they know because they happen to have read about them, without the whole story; if that is your situation and you want more context, by all means read Postwar.