"Abigail Rosenthal proposes a new way of understanding one of the oldest mysteries--the nature of evil. Drawing on wide literary and philosophical resources, Rosenthal proposes that narrative self-understanding is the key to a good life. She traces the implications of this idea for understanding various types of evil, including the ultimate evil of Nazi genocide--which, she argues, cannot be understood in Arendtian terms as a kind of banality. Highly personal and original, Rosenthal's work offers new ways of grappling with some of the largest ethical questions."
Adam Kirsch, author of The Global Novel: Writing the World in the 21st Century (2016)
"Rosenthal pinpoints the characteristic feature of evil--at least the leading type of evil--that distinguishes it from what is only morally wrong or very, very bad. It is based on her basic notion of an ideal 'life story' or plot. She extends both concepts from individual victims to races and populations as victims. T]here is nothing banal or ordinary about evil, the intentional disrupting of the victim's 'ideal thread' or plot. ... In a fascinating new essay, Rosenthal revisits Hannah Arendt . . . applying her "plot" concept to Arendt herself in light of what is known about Arendt's long intellectual and personal relationship with Heidegger. Rosenthal argues that despite a splendid recovery from early adversity, Arendt went on to 'spoil' her own life story. And in a concluding piece, Rosenthal shows from her own experience how one can have reason to believe that a person's life story has been co-authored by God."
William G. Lycan, author of Real Conditionals (2001)
"It is a most compelling and creative work. Rosenthal is analyzing the 'stories' that people tell us about themselves, in terms of both their lives and their work. She does so in an effort to understand genocidal evil-doers, both those who perpetrate and collaborate with it and those who cover up such crimes."
Phyllis Chesler, author of An American Bride in Kabul: A Memoir (2013)
"As a person who wholeheartedly subscribes to the idea that we must be constantly attentive to, and increasingly watchful over, the 'plots' of our own unfolding stories, I found Abigail Rosenthal's A Good Look at Evil a welcome, revealing, and indispensable book about the slippery crevices of the moral life. I hope it is translated into many languages. Everyone should read it."
Gail Godwin, author of Heart: A Personal Journey Through Its Myths and Meanings (2001)