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The Three Escapes of Hannah Arendt
Cover of The Three Escapes of Hannah Arendt
The Three Escapes of Hannah Arendt
A Tyranny of Truth
Borrow
Winner of the Bernard J. Brommel Award for Biography & Memoir
Best Graphic Novels of the Year—Forbes
Jewish Book Award Finalist
Finalist for the Chautauqua Prize

For Persepolis and Logicomix fans, a New Yorker cartoonist's page-turning graphic biography of the fascinating Hannah Arendt,
the most prominent philosopher of the twentieth century.

One of the greatest philosophers of the twentieth century and a hero of political thought, the largely unsung and often misunderstood Hannah Arendt is best known for her landmark 1951 book on openness in political life, The Origins of Totalitarianism, which, with its powerful and timely lessons for today, has become newly relevant.

She led an extraordinary life. This was a woman who endured Nazi persecution firsthand, survived harrowing "escapes" from country to country in Europe, and befriended such luminaries as Walter Benjamin and Mary McCarthy, in a world inhabited by everyone from Marc Chagall and Marlene Dietrich to Albert Einstein and Sigmund Freud. A woman who finally had to give up her unique genius for philosophy, and her love of a very compromised man—the philosopher and Nazi-sympathizer Martin Heidegger—for what she called "love of the world."

Compassionate and enlightening, playful and page-turning, New Yorker cartoonist Ken Krimstein's The Three Escapes of Hannah Arendt is a strikingly illustrated portrait of a complex, controversial, deeply flawed, and irrefutably courageous woman whose intelligence and "virulent truth telling" led her to breathtaking insights into the human condition, and whose experience continues to shine a light on how to live as an individual and a public citizen in troubled times.
Winner of the Bernard J. Brommel Award for Biography & Memoir
Best Graphic Novels of the Year—Forbes
Jewish Book Award Finalist
Finalist for the Chautauqua Prize

For Persepolis and Logicomix fans, a New Yorker cartoonist's page-turning graphic biography of the fascinating Hannah Arendt,
the most prominent philosopher of the twentieth century.

One of the greatest philosophers of the twentieth century and a hero of political thought, the largely unsung and often misunderstood Hannah Arendt is best known for her landmark 1951 book on openness in political life, The Origins of Totalitarianism, which, with its powerful and timely lessons for today, has become newly relevant.

She led an extraordinary life. This was a woman who endured Nazi persecution firsthand, survived harrowing "escapes" from country to country in Europe, and befriended such luminaries as Walter Benjamin and Mary McCarthy, in a world inhabited by everyone from Marc Chagall and Marlene Dietrich to Albert Einstein and Sigmund Freud. A woman who finally had to give up her unique genius for philosophy, and her love of a very compromised man—the philosopher and Nazi-sympathizer Martin Heidegger—for what she called "love of the world."

Compassionate and enlightening, playful and page-turning, New Yorker cartoonist Ken Krimstein's The Three Escapes of Hannah Arendt is a strikingly illustrated portrait of a complex, controversial, deeply flawed, and irrefutably courageous woman whose intelligence and "virulent truth telling" led her to breathtaking insights into the human condition, and whose experience continues to shine a light on how to live as an individual and a public citizen in troubled times.
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  • Library Journal

    September 1, 2018

    New Yorker cartoonist Krimstein's biography of leading German-born philosopher Hannah Arendt (1906-75) opens with Arendt as a child, demonstrating insatiable curiosity and preternatural smarts ("By the time I'm 14, I've read all of Kant's books. But I still don't have all the answers"), even as she discovers what it means to be a Jew in increasingly hostile 1920s-30s Germany. As a young woman, she wows the era's great artists and thinkers, smartly identified in side panels, and develops her own philosophy ("Throwness," she says drily to a puzzled Albert Einstein). As Krimstein deftly weaves Arendt's life and thought, he captures the excitement of the philosophical enterprise in both word ("THINKING HAS BECOME EROTIC. ELECTRIC, ECSTATIC") and image: fine, wiry black lines with the occasional brush of green effectively echo Arendt's energized thinking and the tensions of a life lived in constant escape, one step ahead of the Nazis. Through it all, Arendt remains witty, even saucy. And Krimstein doesn't shy away from Arendt's complicated love for philosopher and Nazi sympathizer Martin Heidegger. VERDICT Both smart and entertaining; highly recommended and not just for graphic novels readers. [See Prepub Alert, 3/26/18; previewed in Jody Osicki's "Graphically Speaking," LJ 6/15/18.]--Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal

    Copyright 2018 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Publisher's Weekly

    May 21, 2018
    Krimstein’s fascinating if cluttered biographical portrait divides political theorist Hannah Arendt’s extraordinary life into a loose triptych. In Germany, she is a curly-haired scribble of a girl (a smudge of green in a black-and-white landscape) and a precocious scholar among a who’s-who of 20th-century thinkers. Martin Heidegger is her lover and foil. As the Nazis rise, she flees to France and, later, New York. The footnote-heavy primer suffers by being more intent on recording names, faces, and historical details than on quality storytelling. Krimstein’s use of the first person, adopting Arendt’s voice, is sporadic and jarring. Yet his love for his subject is undeniable, as he argues that Arendt’s struggles as a Jew and a woman enabled her to transcend the work of traditional truth seekers. His tribute is at its most tender when Arendt speaks to the ghost of Walter Benjamin, who appears to her as a water stain on her ceiling. When Arendt says about captured SS officer Adolf Eichmann, “If we turn into a demonic monster, we somehow absolve him of his crime, and all of us our potential crime,” she roils under backlash that evokes today’s woker-than-thou Twitter pile-ons. This is a complicated, moving, uneven story that resonates in just such times. Agent: Jennifer Lyons, Jennifer Lyons Literary Agency

  • Kirkus

    Starred review from July 1, 2018
    The astounding life of a 20th-century original as told by a skillful cartoonist frolicking in long form.This creative biography takes considerable liberties in retelling the story of Hannah Arendt (1906-1975), the German political theorist who fled the Nazis to Paris before settling in the United States and becoming the first female professor at Princeton. Krimstein (Communications/DePaul Univ.; Kvetch as Kvetch Can: Jewish Cartoons, 2010), who draws for the New Yorker and the Wall Street Journal, among others, ventriloquizes the writer's thoughts and conversations, an approach that risks making her into a "Great Philosophers" finger puppet. However, he bases this narrative bricolage on well-regarded Arendt biographies and intellectual histories as well as her own writing. Moreover, the book relates the starkest moments in a tumultuous life without trivializing--e.g., Arendt's arrest and detainment for researching Nazi propaganda and her time in a French work camp. Krimstein's wry, expressive faces enliven the debates and lend poignancy to the turmoil that beset Arendt and her circle of intellectual refugee friends, including Walter Benjamin, who vouchsafed his final manuscript with Arendt just before his death. Krimstein shares his wonder at the richness of Arendt's networks in countless name-dropping cameos supported by lengthy but skimmable footnotes. Arendt's coverage of the Adolf Eichmann trials in Jerusalem alienated her from her community of American Zionist supporters, and her infamous affair with her one-time professor and Nazi sympathizer Martin Heidegger, revealed after her death and illustrated here in moments of overt historical fiction, further damaged the popular reception of her work. This timely reimagining revives her distinctive existential spirit and dwells on her theory of the "abyss," the rip in the fabric of humanity she attributed to totalitarian regimes of the 20th century. The irony remains that this book celebrates--even as it violates--Arendt's arguments for keeping public and private lives separate. Perhaps the cartoons' hasty, unfinished style acknowledges the unbridgeable distance between the author and the personalities he imaginatively inhabits.A compelling performance with great pacing that makes abstruse political theory both intelligible and memorable.

    COPYRIGHT(2018) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Minneapolis Star Tribune Gorgeous . . . despite the often dark subject matter, it's packed with wit . . . it's a fun and, especially in a final illustration that encapsulates Arendt's hopes for a better world, inspiring work.
  • The Forward [The Three Escapes of Hannah Arendt] depicts Arendt in a way no other book has—bringing her passion and physicality to life using the medium of comics to distill Arendt's dense writings to their essence and to make us feel the passion of her thinking . . . intimate, immediate and real.
  • 5 Hot Books, The National Book Review Krimstein brings brilliant political theorist Arendt to life in his artful and compelling biographical collage.
  • Kirkus (Starred Review) The astounding life of a 20th-century original as told by a skillful cartoonist frolicking in long form . . . A compelling performance with great pacing that makes abstruse political theory both intelligible and memorable.
  • Starred Review, Library Journal As Krimstein deftly weaves Arendt's life and thought, he captures the excitement of the philosophical enterprise in both word and image. . . Both smart and entertaining; highly recommended and not just for graphic novels readers.
  • Starred Review, Shelf Awareness A graphic novel that plays with memory and thought . . . What's certainly clear is how deeply the author respects and understands his subject, beautifully elucidating key arguments in [Arendt's] work as well as defending her robust reputation as a thinker during her lifetime . . . A wonderful honoring of one of the greatest minds of the 20th century.
  • The Jerusalem Post The Three Escapes of Hannah Arendt: A Tyranny of Truth is startlingly original and offers us insights that traditional literary criticism can't. [Krimstein's] wonderful drawings and provocative and unconventional text illuminates unfamiliar aspects of philosopher Hannah Arendt's controversial life.
  • The Chicago Reader It's remarkable how lively Krimstein makes thought look in the book . . . cafe society scenes in Weimar Berlin in particular show how propulsive Krimstein's style is, how fluidly he conveys freewheeling conversations, how nimbly he switches gears.
  • The New York Jewish Week Krimstein tells Arendt's story with eloquence in his text and illustrations, as she continues her quest for truth and understanding, through difficult times.
  • Book Reporter A bold and lovely graphic biography . . . Krimstein's original look at Arendt—thoughtful, entertaining and provocative—will answer a number of questions and inspire many others.
  • Library Journal The book that will make me a graphic-format reader.
  • Morris Dickstein As an émigré intellectual who lived through dark times, Hannah Arendt led a life that was the stuff of legend, yet it was largely a life of the mind. In a remarkable feat of imagination, Ken Krimstein has condensed and envisioned it into a fully dimensional graphic novel, at once the story of an iconic figure and a requiem for a generation.
  • Michael Tisserand, author of KRAZY In this brilliant, beautiful, and all-too-timely reimagining of the life of Hannah Arendt, Ken Krimstein has invented a new way to chronicle one of the 20th century's most inventive thinkers. The Three Escapes of Hannah Arendt is in turns a wartime adventure tale, coming-of-age story, graphic novel of ideas, political biography, and love letter to truth-telling. There is magic on these pages.
  • Roger Berkowitz, Academic Director, Hannah Arendt Center for Politics and Humanities, Bard College Riveting, engaging, and enlightening, Ken Krimstein's graphic biography is the most intimate and imaginative dive to date into Arendt's personal and political lives.
  • Emil Ferris, author of MY FAVORITE THING IS MONSTERS As an admirer of Hannah Arendt, I appreciate the significant enrichment that this book
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The Three Escapes of Hannah Arendt
The Three Escapes of Hannah Arendt
A Tyranny of Truth
Ken Krimstein
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