Dreams of Peace and Freedom


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Utopian Moments in the Twentieth Century

Jay Winter

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In the wake of the monstrous projects of Hitler, Stalin, Mao, and others in the twentieth century, the idea of utopia has been discredited. Yet, historian Jay Winter suggests, alongside the “major utopians” who murdered millions in their attempts to transform the world were disparate groups of people trying in their own separate ways to imagine a radically better world. This original book focuses on some of the twentieth-century’s “minor utopias” whose stories, overshadowed by the horrors of the Holocaust and the Gulag, suggest that the future need not be as catastrophic as the past.

The book is organized around six key moments when utopian ideas and projects flourished in Europe: 1900 (the Paris World's Fair), 1919 (the Paris Peace Conference), 1937 (the Paris exhibition celebrating science and light), 1948 (the Universal Declaration of Human Rights), 1968 (moral indictments and student revolt), and 1992 (the emergence of visions of global citizenship). Winter considers the dreamers and the nature of their dreams as well as their connections to one another and to the history of utopian thought. By restoring minor utopias to their rightful place in the recent past, Winter fills an important gap in the history of social thought and action in the twentieth century.

Jay Winter is Charles J. Stille Professor of History, Yale University. He is author or coauthor of more than a dozen books including Remembering War: The Great War between Memory and History in the 20th Century, published by Yale University Press. He lives in Guilford, CT.



"An original, stimulating, and deeply felt book by one of our leading historians of Twentieth-Century Europe that tells us as much about our present world as it does about the past."—Robert Wohl, author of The Spectacle of Flight: Aviation and the Western Imagination, 1920-1950

"Winter has done it again: this book promises to define the field in the same way that his meditations on the cultural history of warfare have already done."—Joanna Bourke, Birkbeck College, London


"Winter is an acclaimed cultural historian of world war I and early 20th-century conflicts. Here, with refreshing, new-millennium insight, he reflects on inter-world war attempts—excluding the awful accomplishments born of the ostensibly idealistic goals of the century's roster of monster totalitarians—to build a better, fairer society on a grand scale. . . . Highly recommended."—Library Journal

"To anyone with a flame of utopian hope still flickering in his or her soul, this moving, wise, and passionate book can only be a blessing."—Stanley Hoffman, Foreign Affairs

"Dreams of Peace and Freedom refuses to concede the death of utopianism. An intellectual gem, Winter's book is a major utopian study."—Howard P. Segal, Technology and Culture

‘A thought-provoking and positively humane book that aims to do to interpretations of twentieth-century history what Blair did to the politics of Labour in Britain.’

ISBN: 9780300126020
Publication Date: January 8, 2008
272 pages, 5 1/2 x 8 1/4
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