Historian Tony Judt dies aged 62

Tony Judt
Tony Judt: ‘I was raised on words.’ Photograph: Eamonn Mccabe for the Observer
  • Historian Tony Judt dies aged 62 Author of Postwar and New York University professor dies after two-year fight with motor neurone disease:
    Tony Judt, the British writer, historian and professor who was recently described as having the “liveliest mind in New York”, has died after a two-year struggle with motor neurone disease. Considered by many to be a giant in the intellectual world, Judt chronicled his illness in unsparing detail in public lectures and essays – giving an extraordinary account that won him almost as much respect as his voluminous historical and political work, for which he was feted on both sides of the Atlantic.
    Judt was born in 1948 and grew up in south London. His mother’s parents had emigrated from Russia; his father was Belgian, descended from a line of Lithuanian rabbis.
    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”. – guardian.co.uk, 8-7-10
  • Tony Judt dies at 62; leading historian of postwar Europe: The New York University history professor’s career reached its zenith with the publication of ‘Postwar’ in 2005. He also wrote movingly about his struggle with Lou Gehrig’s disease…. – LAT, 8-7-10
  • Tony Judt: A Public Intellectual Remembered: Tony Judt was a historian of the very first order, a public intellectual of an old-fashioned kind and — in more ways than one — a very brave man.
    A professor at New York University and director of the Remarque Institute on European studies there, for the last two years Judt had been living with a degenerative motor neuron disease and wrote movingly and without a touch of self-pity of the impact that it had on his body. Thankfully and remarkably, he continued writing throughout his battle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, with a verve and feeling that added color to what had always been an astonishing breadth of intellectual understanding. His last book, the short polemic Ill Fares the Land — adapted from articles written for the New York Review of Books, long Judt’s home outside the academy — was a cri de coeur for the virtues of social democracy, the political philosophy that had shaped the thinking of so many western Europeans, born and raised, like Judt, in the post-war period. (Read TIME’s review of Judt’s book Postwar)
    Judt was born to a Jewish family in England in 1948, and spent time on a kibbutz in Israel before going up to Cambridge, volunteering as a driver in the Six-Day War of 1967. (He later studied in France, and a fascination with modern French politics and society ran through all his work.) A secular, social-democratic European Jew, his criticisms of Israel in later life — and by extension, of what he considered to be a narrow defensiveness on the part of mainstream American Jewish institutions — made him many intellectual opponents in the US. He stuck to his guns…. – Time, 8-7-10
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