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.
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.)