5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on October 8, 2008
What does it mean to be a Leftist after the end of the 1960's New Left in this post Cold War era? That is the central question that Bernard-Henri Lévy (BHL) attempts to answer in this extended essay. Arguably, BHL is a humanist, against all forms of Totalitarianism or what he calls "Barbarism".
The book begins with BHL having a conversation with Nicolas Sarkozy whom BHL considers to be an old acquaintances. When BHL refuses to write a puff piece for his "friend" Sarkozy lashes out at BHL criticizing him for being "soft" after being discredited by his supposed "Leftist family". This prompts BHL to confront his past as a Leftist and to outline a pessimistic vision of the future of the Left in Europe.
What is great about the book is the text is translated in a very colloquial way. Sure, you'll need to have a little background on European intellectual history, but he doesn't muddle the text with too much academic jargon. I definitely recommend reading this book especially if you consider yourself a Leftist.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
I hate to admit it, by I had a very hard time reading this book, for at least two reasons. First, the author is completely incapable of limiting each sentence to a single thought. He interrupts nearly every thought to throw in another, then back to the first thought, then off to another.
In addition, the author keeps making references to European events and people, without any introduction or explanation. Much of the time, it seemed more like showing off than providing information. I felt like I was constantly fighting through the conversational-meets-stream-of-consciousness style to figure out what he was on about.
Putting aside the writing, there is some content here. The author explores the ways in which the Left has gone off tracks in recent years. Of course, he is writing about the European Left, not the American Left. I consider myself, and most of my friends, to be pretty far to the Left. And, if you read my blog, you'll see I am not at all shy about criticizing the United States. Yet, it never even occurred to me to think that the USSR was anything other than a totalitarian nightmare. I guess some on the Left in Europe fell into the trap of thinking that any country that said it was communist deserved our respect, but I sure don't remember anyone around here thinking that way. Furthermore, I am not sure anyone who does fall into that kind of trap was all that bright to begin with!