We Are Free to Change the World: Hannah Arendt's Lessons in Love and Disobedience
A timely guide on how to live—and think—through the challenges of our century drawn from the life and thought of political theorist Hannah Arendt, one of the twentieth century’s foremost opponents of totalitarianism
“We are free to change the world and to start something new in it.”—Hannah Arendt
The violent unease of today’s world would have been familiar to Hannah Arendt. Tyranny, occupation, disenchantment, post-truth politics, conspiracy theories, racism, mass migration: She lived through them all.
Born in the first decade of the last century, she escaped fascist Europe to make a new life for herself in America, where she became one of its most influential—and controversial—public intellectuals. She wrote about power and terror, exile and love, and above all, about freedom. Questioning—thinking—was her first defense against tyranny. She advocated a politics of action and plurality, courage and, when necessary, disobedience.
We Are Free to Change the World is a book about the Arendt we need for the twenty-first century. It tells us how and why Arendt came to think the way she did, and how to think when our own politics goes off the rails. Both a guide to Arendt’s life and work, and its dialogue with our troubled present, We Are Free to Change the World is an urgent call for us to think, as Hannah Arendt did—unflinchingly, lovingly, and defiantly—through our own unpredictable times.
Praise for We Are Free to Change the World: Hannah Arendt's Lessons in Love and Disobedience
“An absorbing new biography . . . [Stonebridge] imagines her way into Arendt’s life, in places literally retracing her subject’s footsteps, sensing the climate and smelling the (typically smoke-filled) air in an effort of understanding.”—The Economist
“In this extraordinary book, Lyndsey Stonebridge details the life and thought of Hannah Arendt in ways that speak to our troublesome times. Beautifully written, this is biography at its best.”—Eddie S. Glaude Jr., author of Begin Again
“An invigorating and fresh invitation into the world of Hannah Arendt’s life/work connection. Stonebridge’s accessible and thoughtful writing allows the reader to glide into a complex engagement with ease and joy.” —Sarah Schulman, author of Let the Record Show
“Exhilarating, brilliant, and utterly original . . . An iconic twentieth-century figure brought to life in all her facets.”—Philippe Sands, author of East West Street
“Lyndsey Stonebridge walks the world in Hannah Arendt’s footsteps, reaching back a hand to bring us along. One feels Arendt is still with us, still commenting on events, still cross, ironic, or ebullient, still brilliant, but also always a person. . . . A brilliant and wonderful book.”—Bonnie Honig, author of Public Things
“In this brilliantly imagined and compulsively readable book, Lyndsey Stonebridge reveals how Hannah Arendt’s life and thought across the twentieth century matter to our own time. This is a breathtaking triumph.”—Samuel Moyn, author of Humane
“The book about Hannah Arendt I’ve always wanted to read, that only Lyndsey Stonebridge could write . . . Witty, moving, and inspiring, at once fiercely angry and a work of deep moral wisdom.”—Sarah Churchwell, author of Behold, America
“Expertly analyzed and beautifully written, Stonebridge on Arendt is a rare gem, combining painstaking, complex history and stark contemporary resonance with sparks of hope that we really are free to change the world.”—Baroness Shami Chakrabarti, former director of Liberty and author of On Liberty
“Both a warmly engaging intellectual biography and a tract for the times, this is a needful reminder of what political thinking looks like when it is humane, literate, and radical all at once.”—Rowan Williams, former Archbishop of Canterbury
“Bold and exhilarating . . . sparkles with ideas and plumbs new depths in the great Hannah Arendt’s thinking. Stonebridge brilliantly brings our own troubled times face to face with Arendt’s to wake us into urgency and a greater appreciation of an iconic woman.”—Lisa Appignanesi, author of Mad, Bad and Sad and Everyday Madness
“A splendid, ever-so-timely consideration of Arendt and her thoughts on how nations sink into tyranny.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)