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Tony Judt

Tony Judt, who died in 2010, directed the Remarque Institute at New York University. He was the author of Postwar: A History of Europe since 1945, Reappraisals: Essays on the Forgotten 20th Century and Ill Fares the Land.

An Interview

Tony Judt and Kristina Božič, 25 March 2010

Courage is always missing in politicians. It is like saying basketball players aren’t normally short. It isn’t a useful attribute. To be morally courageous is to say something different, which reduces your chances of winning an election. Courage is in a funny way more common in an old-fashioned sort of enlightened dictatorship than it is in a democracy. However, there is another factor. My generation has been catastrophic. I was born in 1948 so I am more or less the same age as George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Gerhard Schröder, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown – a pretty crappy generation, when you come to think of it, and many names could be added.

Why have American liberals acquiesced in President Bush’s catastrophic foreign policy? Why have they so little to say about Iraq, about Lebanon, or about reports of a planned attack on Iran? Why has the administration’s sustained attack on civil liberties and international law aroused so little opposition or anger from those who used to care most about these things? Why, in short, has the liberal intelligentsia of the United States in recent years kept its head safely below the parapet?

From The Blog
16 March 2010

From an interview to be published in the next issue of the 'LRB': One of the most expensive programmes in France, the retirement system for railway workers, was established in the years after World War Two. Its powerful Communist trade union negotiated a very good deal, particularly for train drivers. They could retire at the age of 54 on full salary until their death. At the time it was a very reasonable deal. These men normally started working when they were 13, and they had been working on steam trains all their life, which was physically difficult and dangerous work. When they reached 54, they were exhausted. Their life expectancy after that was about eight years. The pension was therefore not all that expensive for the state. Today their sons and grandsons have the same deal. But they leave school at 16, they go to work on the TGVs, where they sit on comfortable chairs, air-conditioned in the summer, heated in the winter, and the most demanding thing they do is push a button; they retire at 54 on full salary and their life expectancy is another 24 years.

Letter

Anything but Shy

7 June 2007

In his discussion of Fritz Stern’s Five Germanys I Have Known (LRB, 7 June) Thomas Laqueur writes that Stern ‘craves approval and fears exposure’; he is ‘a scholar who craves honours’, his ‘life driven by the next lecture opportunity … by the pursuit of fame and recognition’. He chides Stern for enjoying the company of ‘famous new colleagues’,...
Letter

Bush’s Useful Idiots

21 September 2006

Robert Boyers and Harold Jaffe (Letters, 19 October) take issue with my characterisation of the intellectual scene in the US today, pointing out that there are many dissenting voices and much opposition to the Bush administration. They are of course correct and I did not wish to suggest that a blanket of universal conformity had fallen across the land, silencing or muffling every expression of criticism....
Letter

Questions of Malevolence

20 February 1997

Neal Ascherson’s generous review of Norman Davies’s Europe: A History (LRB, 20 February) raises a number of troubling questions. The book, as even Ascherson acknowledges, is full of errors, yet these apparently in no way reduce its ‘intellectual achievement’. Really? There are eight errors on one page in Chapter 7. In Chapter 11 we learn that the Nazis supported Papen in 1932...

Europe since the War

Neal Ascherson, 17 November 2005

As soon as you realise how good it is, this book will frighten you. This is not just a history. It is a highly intrusive biography, especially if, like me, you belong to the British generations...

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Exit Sartre

Fredric Jameson, 7 July 1994

These two books take an essentially British perspective on the history of fellow-travelling in France since World War Two. Armed with the magic cap of François Furet’s...

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