The Three Escapes of Hannah Arendt: A Tyranny of Truth

Bloomsbury USA. Sept. 2018. 256p. illus. ISBN 9781635571882. $28; ebk. ISBN 9781635571905. BIOG
OrangeReviewStarNew 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.]

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