Tony Judt, R.I.P. -

Tony Judt, R.I.P.


I can’t add much to the tributes that will soon be written to Tony Judt, the historian who died this weekend from Lou Gehrig’s disease. Only this: When I contacted him to draw on his thoughts and expertise for articles I was writing, he complied even when his sickness left him unable to speak clearly, instead sending me carefully considered responses by email, which must have taken forever to compose. He was an excellent historian and a good man.

Here are some of his essays.

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Tony Judt, R.I.P.

  1. A brave man as well, in many ways.

  2. Tony Judt's memoirs are so beautifully written, insightful, and generally instructive that readers may not notice a serious historical distortion in one of them. When, in “Revolutionaries” [NYR, February 25], he mocks the idea that in May 1968 “a community of students…seriously intended to overthrow President Charles de Gaulle and his Fifth Republic,” he neglects to say that from mid-May to early June, most of France was on strike—not just students. The country was paralyzed for three weeks. A general strike is revolutionary by its very nature. That there was finally no revolution does not mean, as Raymond Aron famously said, that “nothing happened in May ‘68.” I regret that Tony Judt, who has written such fine books about contemporary France, is now “disposed to share his contempt.”

    David Ball
    Professor Emeritus of French and Comparative Literature
    Smith College
    Northampton, Massachusetts