A leading American social theorist, Hannah Arendt was also one of the most original and incisive thinkers of political theory - ever.

Highly idiosyncratic in style and approach, Arendt's themes could be described as a study of beginnings, and the layers upon layers of revolution and history that build civilization. Throughout her work, Arendt records thought-provoking criticism of such elders as Immanuel Kant, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Karl Marx and Plato*. Arendt was also very concerned with the Holocaust and totalitarianism - very real, horrific tales of the unexpected. Arendt also edited Illuminations by post-structuralist Walter Benjamin.

A good book to start with when reading Arendt: The Human Condition, Chicago: 1958, 2nd edition ed. Margaret Canovan 1998, The University of Chicago Press.

Considering humankind from the perspective of actions of which it is capable (namely, labour - the things you do to survive, work - the things you do to stay part of society; and action - the things you do to affect others), in The Human Condition Arendt reflects on humanity's capacity to start something new.

Arendt identifies problems of diminishing human agency, political freedom, and the paradox that as human power increases through technological and humanistic inquiry, we are less equipped to control the consequences of our actions. (The Human Condition)

Other books by Hannah Arendt:

Eichmann in Jerusalem : A Report on the Banality of Evil. New York: Penguin Twentieth-Century Classics, 1994
The Origins of Totalitarianism. New York : Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1973
On Revolution. Westport, Conn. : Greenwood Press, 1982, c1963
Between Past and Future : eight exercises in political thought. New York : Penguin Books, 1978, c1968

There is also a Penguin Classics Library Portable Hannah Arendt.

...and hundreds of other books and lectures.

* Bear with me. This node will improve as I plan to add additional biographical info, quotes and more commentary.