As recently as 2000, Hannah Arendt was considered an esoteric author within the fields of humanities and social science. Since that time, Arendt has moved from the fringes of intellectual discussion toward its center. A number of developments have driven this reappraisal: the renewed respectability of the concept of totalitarianism; the appearance of post-Nazi/Bolshevik genocidal movements in Africa, the Balkans and the Middle East; the reemergence of stateless people; and the revival of interest in civil/classical republicanism as a political alternative to liberalism and socialism. All of these events evoke Arendtian themes. The greater porousness between the humanities and social sciences in recent years, as a result of the impetus toward trans-disciplinary studies, has encouraged academics to move across intellectual borders. Arendt, a wide-ranging thinker with much to say about politics, society, science, history, aesthetics, philosophy and education, is a natural beneficiary of this process.
Extant compendiums of Arendt's work show a strong bias toward philosophy and political theory. In contrast, The Anthem Companion to Hannah Arendt is written principally by sociologists and authors with a keen interest in sociology and social theory. The result is a genuinely original contribution to Arendt studies. Written with the higher level undergraduate student in mind yet sufficiently challenging to engage readers well versed in her work, the book examines Arendt's most important books as they bear on modern social theories, issues and disputes. Her key conceptual distinctions – totalitarianism and dictatorship; labor, work, action; power and violence; thinking, willing and judging – are clarified. The controversies in which Arendt was caught up – notably over the 'banality of evil' epitomized by Adolf Eichmann – are explained. The result enables students to grasp a fully rounded understanding of Arendt's contribution to social inquiry. Written by a distinguished group of international scholars, the clear descriptions and stimulating interpretations of The Anthem Companion to Hannah Arendt bring Arendt's work into the forefront of sociological discussion.