Sunday Salon: Hannah Arendt is Sold Out

I have been looking for a copy of Hannah Arendt’s book Origins of Totalitarianism for two weeks now.  It seems like it would be a timely read and I enjoyed and admired her book Eichmann in Jerusalem about the trial of the notorious architect of the Holocaust.  (I highly recommend it, by the way.)

I’m a big fan of brick-and-mortor bookstores, so I was determined to find a copy of Origins of Totalitarianism in a real store.  It’s an old book, I reasoned, I should be able to get a used copy somewhere.

Okay, it was just an excuse to go visit a lot of bookstores, I admit it.

But, nope.  No copies.  Not at Half Price Books, not at Copperfield’s, not at The Napa Book Mine.  There was one, but it was in hardcover.  I want a paperback that I can carry around with me to impress the other cafe goers while we all sip lattes and type up reviews for our blogs.

file_000-4Should I just break down and order one on Amazon?

No.  I’m going to a workshop at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco this weekend.  I’ll go to City Lights books afterwards. They’re sure to have a copy. They have a whole section of books dedicated to “The Resistance.”  They’re sure to have a copy of Hannah Arendt’s Origins of Totalitarianism.

So, yesterday, after the workshop ended at 12:30, C.J. and I walked over Nob Hill, through Chinatown to North Beach where the famed City Lights is located. Along the way we stopped for some wonderful Dim Sum.  If you’ve never had Dim Sum, you should put it on your list of things to do before you die.  Dim Sum is a type of Chinese food usually made for special occasions.  Most Dim Sum are dumplings of one kind or another, small bites of food, pork or shrimp, in little buns.  The servers come out of the kitchen pushing little cards full of Dim Sum plates. You select the ones you want whenever they come by and pay by the plate at the end.  In Chinatown the best Dim Sum places are down little alleys in basement rooms.

The Dim Sum was delicious but City Lights Books did not have anymore copies of Hannah Arendt’s Origins of Totalitarianism.  So, I’m going to order a copy at my local bookstore, Bookshop Benicia.

I did find a three-in-one edition of Don Carpenter’s Hollywood novels which will probably be much more entertaining reading than Hannah Arendt.

 

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6 Comments

  1. S. C. Flynn says:

    I studied Origins at university long ago. Did not expect it to become so topical again in my lifetime… .

    1. Totalitarianism has never left us. It’s just been busy in countries far from home. Still, I see your point.

  2. Wow! I’ve heard that a lot of books on dystopias and authoritarianism are “selling like hotcakes” these days. I personally was never all that enamored of Arendt; I felt that her book on Eichmann was naive and flawed. I also thought Origins had some dubious simplicity (she was not a historian, and moreover was a lover of Martin Heidegger, a pro-Nazi antisemite, a curious thing which some deduce led to her “self-hating Jew” kinds of conclusions). But her books make great reading, in my opinion, nevertheless!

    1. The BBC’s In Our Time did a very good hour on her a few weeks ago. You can find it as a podcast on their website. I’m going to disagree with you on Eichmann in Jerusalem. Her point on the banality of evil was solid in my view, though she did not exactly make it as clearly as she could have, and she didn’t really help her case all that much once the controversy began. In any case, great reading as you say.

  3. JuditJudithJ says:

    I’d vouch for buying a good or very good copy on Amazon. I live so many hundreds of miles from a city that has lots of bookstores, that I can say unequivocally that I rely on the many used bookstores that advertise on Amazon.
    I think this is an absolutely perfect to set down on your table in a café or anywhere.
    Do keep us informed on the rest of your search and your reading on this.

  4. I recently acquired a Kindle edition of Origins on sale for $1.95. I hope you can locate a book store copy.

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