The words and will of Tony Judt

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Over the course of his career historian Tony Judt has become one of the nation’s most “famously tough-minded and combative” public intellectuals, writes Wesley Yang for the current edition of New York Magazine. The director of NYU’s Erich Maria Remarque Institute, author of eight books on the history of politics and ideas in Europe, and a frequent contributor to the New York Review of Books, “all in all, he is one of the most admired and denounced thinkers living in New York City” says Yang.
In 2008, Judt was diagnosed with ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s Disease, and is now paralyzed throughout most of his body. But as Yang’s article points out, through an extraordinary act of will, Judt has maintained a constant stream of output, producing articles for the NYRB, lecturing, and working on a new book—a follow up to his most famous work Postwar: A History of Europe since 1945—which has already received a glowing review in The New Yorker. Robert Silvers, editor of The New York Review of Books remarks that Judt’s recent work has been some of his best: “The pure intensity of effort and courage needed to arrive at the ability to do it is something difficult to imagine. It’s a great victory for him.”
Yang explores how such a prolific intellectual has been able to successfully grapple with his recent illness, a feat that seems all the more extraordinary as he walks reader’s through the struggles of Judt’s day to day life. Read it online at
The University of Chicago Press has published Judt’s The Burden of Responsibility: Blum, Camus, Aron, and the French Twentieth Century—a book that looks at the lives of three French philosophers—Leon Blum, Albert Camus, and Raymond Aron—to demonstrate their heroic commitment to personal integrity and moral responsibility unfettered by the difficult political exigencies of their time.