Saturday, August 7, 2010

Tony Judt...

has died.

Historian Tony Judt dies aged 62 (from the Guardian):

Author of Postwar and New York University professor dies after two-year fight with motor neurone disease.

His academic career began with a history degree and PhD at Cambridge and took him eventually to New York University, where he was the Erich Maria Remarque professor in European studies, director of the Remarque Institute and a renowned teacher.

His finest work was widely thought to be Postwar: A History of Europe since 1945, published in 2005 and an enormous critical success. It was described by the Yale historian Timothy Snyder as "the best book on its subject that will ever be written by anyone".

Judt was awarded a special Orwell prize last year for lifetime achievement for his contribution to British political writing. Penguin published his latest book, Ill Fares the Land, a passionate call for a re-engagment in politics, in March.

But Judt's willingness to voice, as the New York Times recently put it, "impolite truths" brought attacks from fellow intellectuals. He was called cantankerous, which he probably took as a badge of honour.

From University Diaries:

I don’t think there’s anything particularly courageous about what I’ve done… I’m a tenured professor at a university. It’s a peculiarly privileged and advantageous position to find yourself in. And it’s precisely for that reason that it confers upon you certain kinds of duties. Because you can speak out, you should.


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