Book review – The Philosopher’s Trail: On Samantha Rose Hill’s “Hannah Arendt”

Arendt shows us “how to think the world anew […] how to hold ourselves accountable for our actions, how to think critically without succumbing to ideology,” Hill writes. “Only when we do this, she says, will we be able to love the world.”    The peak of her pariahdom came when she covered Adolf Eichmann’s trial for The New Yorker, which culminated in her 1963 book, Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil. Hill scarcely breaks a sweat defending Arendt on the Eichmann matter, which is still alive and kicking in parts of academe.

Hannah Arendt: by Samantha Rose Hill

Reviewed by Shaan Sachdev

Hill has obviously heard it all, knows where most strictures fail to hold water, and gives Arendt the last word: ‘To Arendt the most upsetting part of the literary show trial was that she was pronounced guilty for a book she had never written. Most of her critics had, she wrote, not even bothered to read it. They objected to her ironic tone, not its content. Worst of all, they were more interested in invalidating her than engaging with her arguments. Arendt’s own response to her friend, the Israeli philosopher Gershom Scholem, who accused her of having no “love for the Jewish people,” captures her abstention from groupthink:

“How right you are that I have no such love, and for two reasons: first, I have never in my life “loved” some nation or collective — not the German, French, or American nation, or the working class, or whatever else there might be in this price range of loyalties. The fact is that I love only my friends and am quite incapable of any other sort of love..” ‘….

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