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Left in Dark Times

A Stand Against the New Barbarism

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Paperback published by Random House Trade Paperbacks (Random House Publishing Group)

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About This Book
In this unprecedented critique, Bernard-Henri Lévy, one of the world’s leading intellectuals revisits his political roots, scrutinizes the totalitarianisms of the past as well as those on the horizon, and argues powerfully for a new political and moral vision for our times. Are human rights Western or universal? Does anti-Semitism have a future, and, if so, what will it look like? And how is it that progressives themselves–those who in the past defended individual rights and fought fascism–have now become the breeding ground for new kinds of dangerous attitudes: an unthinking loathing of Israel; an obsessive anti-Americanism; an idea of “tolerance” that, in its justification of Islamic fanaticism, for example, could become the “cemetery of democracies”; and an indifference, masked by relativism, to the greatest human tragedies facing the world today? Illuminating these and other questions, Lévy also brings to life his own autobiography, highlighting the thinkers he has known and scrutinized and the ideological battles he has fought over thirty years–revealing their bearing on the present.

Above all, Lévy offers a powerful new vision for progressives everywhere, one based neither on the failed idealisms of the past neither nor on their current misguided, bigoted, and dangerously sentimental attachments but on an absolute commitment to combat evil in all its guises. The “new barbarism” Levy compellingly diagnoses is real and must be confronted. At a time of ideological and political transition in America, Left in Dark Times is a polemical, incendiary articulation of the threats we all face–in many cases without our even being aware of it–and a riveting, cogent stand against those threats. Surprising and sure to be controversial, wise and free of cynicism, it is one of the most important books yet written by one of the crucial voices of our time.

Praise for Bernard-Henri Lévy’s American Vertigo

“An entertaining trip, as much in the tradition of Jack Kerouac as Tocqueville.”
The New York Times

“Perceptive, pugnacious, passionate [and] exquisitely written.”
The New York Observer

“It’s difficult to remember when a writer of any nationality so clearly and thoughtfully delineated both the good and bad in America. [Grade:] A.”
Entertainment Weekly (Editor’s Choice)

“Lévy is a true friend of the American experiment and a comrade in the American struggle against the barbarisms.”
The New Republic

“Lévy writes brilliantly. American Vertigo is filled with insights and goodwill.”
The Wall Street Journal

“Provocative . . . [Lévy is] a writer of enormous power and vitality.”
–San Francisco Chronicle

“Vigorous . . . impressive.”
–The Boston Globe


From the Hardcover edition.
Show less
In this unprecedented critique, Bernard-Henri Lévy, one of the world’s leading intellectuals revisits his political roots, scrutinizes the totalitarianisms of the past as well as those on the horizon, and argues powerfully for a new political and moral vision for our times. Are human rights Western or universal? Does anti-Semitism have a future, and, if so, what will it look like? And how is it that progressives themselves–those who in the past defended individual rights and fought fascism–have now become the breeding ground for new kinds of dangerous attitudes: an unthinking loathing of Israel; an obsessive anti-Americanism; an idea of “tolerance” that, in its justification of Islamic fanaticism, for example, could become the “cemetery of democracies”; and an indifference, masked by relativism, to the greatest human tragedies facing the world today? Illuminating these and other questions, Lévy also brings to life his own autobiography, highlighting the thinkers he has known and scrutinized and the ideological battles he has fought over thirty years–revealing their bearing on the present.

Above all, Lévy offers a powerful new vision for progressives everywhere, one based neither on the failed idealisms of the past neither nor on their current misguided, bigoted, and dangerously sentimental attachments but on an absolute commitment to combat evil in all its guises. The “new barbarism” Levy compellingly diagnoses is real and must be confronted. At a time of ideological and political transition in America, Left in Dark Times is a polemical, incendiary articulation of the threats we all face–in many cases without our even being aware of it–and a riveting, cogent stand against those threats. Surprising and sure to be controversial, wise and free of cynicism, it is one of the most important books yet written by one of the crucial voices of our time.

Praise for Bernard-Henri Lévy’s American Vertigo

“An entertaining trip, as much in the tradition of Jack Kerouac as Tocqueville.”
The New York Times

“Perceptive, pugnacious, passionate [and] exquisitely written.”
The New York Observer

“It’s difficult to remember when a writer of any nationality so clearly and thoughtfully delineated both the good and bad in America. [Grade:] A.”
Entertainment Weekly (Editor’s Choice)

“Lévy is a true friend of the American experiment and a comrade in the American struggle against the barbarisms.”
The New Republic

“Lévy writes brilliantly. American Vertigo is filled with insights and goodwill.”
The Wall Street Journal

“Provocative . . . [Lévy is] a writer of enormous power and vitality.”
–San Francisco Chronicle

“Vigorous . . . impressive.”
–The Boston Globe


From the Hardcover edition.
Product Details
Paperback (256 pages)
Published: October 13, 2009
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Imprint: Random House Trade Paperbacks
ISBN: 9780812974720
Other books byBernard-Henri Levy
  • American Vertigo

    American Vertigo
    Traveling America in the Footsteps of Tocqueville
    What does it mean to be an American, and what can America be today? To answer these questions, celebrated philosopher and journalist Bernard-Henri Lévy spent a year traveling throughout the country in the footsteps of another great Frenchman, Alexis de Tocqueville, whose Democracy in America remains the most influential book ever written about our country. The result is American Vertigo, a fascinating, wholly fresh look at a country we sometimes only think we know. From Rikers Island to Chicago mega-churches, from Muslim communities in Detroit to an Amish enclave in Iowa, Lévy investigates issues at the heart of our democracy: the special nature of American patriotism, the coexistence of freedom and religion (including the religion of baseball), the prison system, the “return of ideology” and the health of our political institutions, and much more. He revisits and updates Tocqueville’s most important beliefs, such as the dangers posed by “the tyranny of the majority,” explores what Europe and America have to learn from each other, and interprets what he sees with a novelist’s eye and a philosopher’s depth. Through powerful interview-based portraits across the spectrum of the American people, from prison guards to clergymen, from Norman Mailer to Barack Obama, from Sharon Stone to Richard Holbrooke, Lévy fills his book with a tapestry of American voices–some wise, some shocking. Both the grandeur and the hellish dimensions of American life are unflinchingly explored. And big themes emerge throughout, from the crucial choices America faces today to the underlying reality that, unlike the “Old World,” America remains the fulfillment of the world’s desire to worship, earn, and live as one wishes–a place, despite all, where inclusion remains not just an ideal but an actual practice. At a time when Americans are anxious about how the world perceives them and, indeed, keen to make sense of themselves, a brilliant and sympathetic foreign observer has arrived to help us begin a new conversation about the meaning of America. From the Hardcover edition.

    Public Enemies

    Public Enemies
    Dueling Writers Take On Each Other and the World
    The international publishing sensation is now available in the United States—two brilliant, controversial authors confront each other and their enemies in an unforgettable exchange of letters.   In one corner, Bernard-Henri Lévy, creator of the classic Barbarism with a Human Face, dismissed by the media as a wealthy, self-promoting, arrogant do-gooder. In the other, Michel Houellebecq, bestselling author of The Elementary Particles, widely derided as a sex-obsessed racist and misogynist. What began as a secret correspondence between bitter enemies evolved into a remarkable joint personal meditation by France’s premier literary and political live wires.  An instant international bestseller, Public Enemies has now been translated into English for all lovers of superb insights, scandalous opinions, and iconoclastic ideas. In wicked, wide-ranging, and freewheeling letters, the two self-described “whipping boys” debate whether they crave disgrace or secretly have an insane desire to please. Lévy extols heroism in the face of tyranny; Houellebecq sees himself as one who would “fight little and badly.” Lévy says “life does not ‘live’” unless he can write; Houellebecq bemoans work as leaving him in such “a state of nervous exhaustion that it takes several bottles of alcohol to get out.” There are also touching and intimate exchanges on the existence of God and about their own families. Dazzling, delightful, and provocative, Public Enemies is a death match between literary lions, remarkable men who find common ground, confident that, in the end (as Lévy puts it), “it is we who will come out on top.”

    War, Evil and the End of History

    War, Evil and the End of History
    From the maverick author of the international bestseller Who Killed Daniel Pearl? — "a gripping blend of reportage and philosophy," according to The New York Times — comes another startlingly original work of literature. In WAR, EVIL AND THE END OF HISTORY, Bernard-Henri Lévy continues his daring investigation into the breeding grounds of terrorism with a series of riveting first-person reports from five of the world's most horrific "forgotten" war zones. In Sri Lanka, he conducts a clandestine interview with a terrified young woman escaped from a suicide-bomber training camp . . . he journeys, blindfolded, into the Colombian jungle to interview a psychotic drug lord who considers himself the successor to Che Guevara and fronts a bloodthirsty "guerilla" army . . . Lévy surreptitiously observes the nameless slaves working the diamond mines that fund an endless war in Angola . . . airdrops into a rebel stronghold in the blockaded Nuba mountains of the Sudan . . . and reports on the ongoing carnage in Burundi between Hutus and Tutsis. But Lévy is more than just a journalist: as France's leading philosopher, he follows the reports with a series of intensely personal and probing "reflections" considering how, in an enlightened, cultured, and well-informed society, these wars have acquired such a perverse "non-meaning." He considers war literature from Stendhal, Hemingway, Proust and others, and issues an excoriating response to those who have glorified it. He reconsiders his own background as a student revolutionary in Paris in May 1968, and as a 22-year-old war reporter in Bangladesh. And, in one of the book's most moving passages, he recounts his travels with Ahmad Massoud, the anti-Taliban Afghan leader assassinated hours before the September 11 attacks. Already a huge bestseller in Europe, WAR, EVIL, AND THE END OF HISTORY is the work of a scintillating intellect at the height of its powers. Bernard-Henri Lévy's previous book foresaw today's headlines about Pakistan's secret trading of nuclear technology and the nexus of terrorist groups behind the murder of Daniel Pearl. WAR, EVIL, AND THE END OF HISTORY is his brilliant foray into the next danger zones.

    Who Killed Daniel Pearl?

    Who Killed Daniel Pearl?
    The shocking book that caused a furor in Europe now comes to America... It was a horrible tragedy, but what if, hidden behind the story of the gruesome on-camera murder of journalist Daniel Pearl, was another, still darker story? What if the people who murdered him weren't actually fanatic followers of Osama bin Laden? What if he wasn't murdered – as was universally assumed – because he was Jewish and American? What if he was murdered because he was onto something? In a groundbreaking book that combines a novelist's eye with riveting investigative journalism, Bernard-Henri Lévy, one of the world's most esteemed writers, retraces Pearl's final steps through a murky Islamic underworld, suffused by "an odor of the apocalypse." The investigation plunges Lévy into his own heart of darkness – and a series of stunning revelations about who the real terrorists are.

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