Conor Cruise O’Brien, 1917-2008
Conor Cruise O’Brien, Irish intellectual, politician, diplomat, writer, critic, professor, journalist, historian, and playwright, died yesterday in Dublin at the age of 91. He had been in ill health since suffering a stroke in 1998.
The scope of O’Brien’s life and career can only be gestured at in this space. He was a special representative to Dag Hammarskjöld, secretary-general of the United Nations, in the Congo crisis of 1961. He was chancellor of the University of Ghana as well as the Albert Schweitzer Professor of Humanities at New York University. He was Ireland’s Minister for Posts and Telegraphs. He was editor-in-chief of the London-based newspaper the Observer. At the age when most retire from work, he taught and lectured at numerous universities around the world. And throughout he wrote many books.
The University of Chicago Press is honored to have published:
- The Great Melody: A Thematic Biography of Edmund Burke, which historian Paul Johnson described as “a book by the greatest living Irishman on the greatest Irishman who ever lived.”
- The Long Affair: Thomas Jefferson and the French Revolution, 1785-1800, which critic Richard Brookhiser said “should be read by anyone interested in Jefferson—or in a good fight.”
- Ancestral Voices: Religion and Nationalism in Ireland, in which O’Brien draws his own life experiences to interpret Ireland’s past and present, its conflicts, politics, and “sacred nationalism.”