Between Two Minds — Stranger from Abroad: Hannah Arendt,
Martin Heidegger, Friendship and Forgiveness
by Daniel Maier-Katkin

In Stranger From Abroad: Hannah Arendt, Martin Heidegger, Friendship and Forgiveness, Daniel Maier-Katkin explores the long-term relationship between Arendt and Heidegger. In thirty-five short but well-written chapters, Maier-Katkin traces the connections that sustained the relationship between these two very different intellects. More time and text is extended to Arendt and her growth as an intellectual and erstwhile academician than to Heidegger. …Maier-Katkin is a scholar of repute and his study reflects a command of not only his subjects and their thoughts, but also the era in which they lived; the book’s documentation is extensive and illustrates that Maier-Katkin is aware of the relevant scholarship on his topic.The great Heidegger emerges as a rather static and manipulative figure who “blossomed” in his thirties and, after his support for Hitler in the early 1930s, spent much of the remainder of his life attempting to disassociate himself from Nazism. Without doubt Maier-Katkin is fascinated with Arendt; the chapters on her are the strongest in this book. In particular, his analysis of the struggling Arendt in America during the 1940s and his account of her coverage of the Eichman trial in Israel are noteworthy for the quality of the scholarship as well as the provocative analysis that he advances. Maier-Katkin’s examination of the role and impact of Karl Jaspers on both Arendt and Heidegger portrayed Jaspers as an understanding and empathetic friend to Arendt who recognized her continuing attachment to Heidegger even though she herself discounted it. Jaspers believed that Arendt’s acceptance of Heidegger’s recanting of his support for the Nazis was at least due in part to her lingering emotional relationship with him; Jaspers was more knowledgeable about Heidegger’s Nazi past and used his influence to block his rehabilitation during the 1950s and 1960s. Where Maier-Katkin appears to be less successful is in his section on Arendt’s rather unsuccessful attempt to explain Heidegger’s Nazi episode; if Arendt was to be applauded for the quality of her research and writing on the Eichman case, should she be permitted to defend or explain Heidegger with nothing more than speculation and weak and incomplete evidence? Regardless of any lingering emotional links that Arendt may have sustained, her arguments in support of Heidegger do not hold much weight; Maier-Katkin’s sympathetic support for Arendt in this case appears unwarranted.

Nonetheless, Maier-Katkin is a scholar of repute and his study reflects a command of not only his subjects and their thoughts, but also the era in which they lived; the book’s documentation is extensive and illustrates that Maier-Katkin is aware of the relevant scholarship on his topic. An important and valuable work that offers many unique insights into Hannah Arendt’s life and thought, it is a substantive contribution to Arendt and Heidegger studies. It evokes aspects of an important life that needs to be known by a larger public and, perhaps, will also stimulate additional research and study from others.

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