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31 October 1996
Adventures on the Freedom Road: The French Intellectuals in the 20th Century 
by Bernard-Henri Lévy, translated by Richard Veasey.
Harvill, 434 pp., £20, December 1995, 1 86046 035 6
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The Imaginary Jew 
by Alain Finkielkraut, translated by Kevin O’Neill and David Suchoff.
Nebraska, 230 pp., £23.95, August 1994, 0 8032 1987 3
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The Defeat of the Mind 
by Alain Finkielkraut, translated by Judith Friedlander.
Columbia, 165 pp., $15, May 1996, 0 231 08023 9
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... Raymond Aron, future historians of French intellectuals in the Eighties and Nineties may well be condemned to structuring their narratives around the post-Marx brothers of French intellectual life, Bernard-HenriLévy and Alain Finkielkraut. This is not a case simply of contemporary thinkers being dwarfed by the giants of the past – the familiar lament about the decline of French intellectuals is rather ...

Diary

Robert Walshe: Bumping into Beckett

7 November 1985
... when he was alive, Barthes likewise, Jean Genet, Wolfromm, Françoise Giroud, Le Roy Ladurie (who loafs by on a bicycle), d’Ormesson, Cartano, Genevieve Dormann, Michel Serres, Jean Dutourd and Bernard-HenriLévy (Prix Bernard-HenriLévy). My critics will think of me as a namedropper as distinct from a reader and writer of books, and there is an atom of truth in it: I am not saying which atom. But ...

The Terror Trail

Tariq Ali: The real story of Daniel Pearl

20 May 2004
A Mighty Heart: The Brave Life and Death of My Husband, Daniel Pearl 
by Mariane Pearl.
Virago, 278 pp., £7.99, March 2004, 1 84408 126 5
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Who Killed Daniel Pearl? 
by Bernard-Henri Lévy.
Duckworth, 454 pp., £20, September 2003, 0 7156 3261 2
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... always been against the bombings,” Jenna says.’ On this issue at least, Jenna Bush is well to the left of much of the liberal intelligentsia. In December 2001, at the Berlin Literature Festival, Bernard-HenriLévy and Daniel Cohn-Bendit, the German Green MEP, berated the New York poet Eliot Weinberger and myself for opposing the bombing and occupation of Afghanistan. Lévy had told the Berlin audience ...

Short Cuts

Chase Madar: Human Rights Window Dressing

1 July 2015
... has called for military intervention to oust Robert Mugabe. It’s not just Americans: Michael Ignatieff ardently supported the invasion of Iraq in the name of humanitarian values. The inescapable Bernard-HenriLévy was at the fore in demanding Nato go to war against Gaddafi. (Lévy has ‘moved on’ to other causes now that Libya is deep in chaos.) Human rights organisations have also been at it ...

Communiste et Rastignac

Christopher Caldwell: Bernard Kouchner

9 July 2009
Le Monde selon K. 
by Pierre Péan.
Fayard, 331 pp., €19, February 2009, 978 2 213 64372 4
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... humanitarianism as he practises it is just a larval form of neoconservatism. The book hit Paris like a bomb. Kouchner accused Péan of anti-semitism and rallied celebrity friends to defend him, from Bernard-HenriLévy at home to Hillary Clinton and Kofi Annan abroad. Newspapers of the left – notably Libération – opened their columns to Péan, while Le Monde attacked his book. The news weekly Le Point ...

Short Cuts

Jeremy Harding: Who is François Hollande?

13 September 2012
... but it was a dab of antiseptic on an injury that needed stitches. Binet was always troubled by the Guardian interview – as he was by what he saw as Hollande’s other great mistake, a lunch with Bernard-HenriLévy in a swanky restaurant near Fouquet’s – and he brought up the interview again, on 6 May, during the victory flight from Tulle that took Hollande to Paris for his Bastille moment. On the ...

Closely Missed Trains

Joanna Biggs: Florian Zeller’s Hair

12 March 2009
Artificial Snow 
by Florian Zeller, translated by Sue Rose.
Pushkin, 119 pp., £10, January 2009, 978 1 901285 84 0
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Elle t’attend 
by Florian Zeller.
Flammarion, 154 pp., €12, September 2008, 978 2 08 120749 3
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... been translated into a dozen languages, taught at Sciences Po, left Sciences Po to direct his plays (he’s written four) and won the Prix Interallié (whose other winners include Malraux, Bernard-HenriLévy and Michel Houellebecq). He says his biggest regret is not being English, and indeed, despite his quickly achieved yet continuing fame in France, he is almost unknown here. In the opening pages ...

Under the Ustasha

Mark Mazower: Sarajevo, 1941-45

6 October 2011
Sarajevo, 1941-45: Muslims, Christians and Jews in Hitler’s Europe 
by Emily Greble.
Cornell, 276 pp., £21.50, February 2011, 978 0 8014 4921 5
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... pride of the Serbs, which West had so admired, was what had got us into this mess. That the Serbs were not heroic defenders of Christian values but plotters of ethnic cleansing. Susan Sontag and Bernard-HenriLévy felt it their duty to visit Sarajevo and publicise its plight. It was, as Sontag put it, the Spanish Civil War for her generation. Was this version any closer to reality than West’s? What the ...

Diary

Peter Pomerantsev: Iammmmyookkraaanian

19 February 2015
... to destroy Russia’s traditional spiritual and social order’, mean we have to take him in? The seduction of big ideas was internationally infectious. Returning to my hotel lobby I encountered Bernard-HenriLévy bathed in TV lights, giving an interview to a local network. BHL had just delivered a lecture at the local university about ‘Putinism as Fascism’: ‘Putin is frightened of the loss of ...

Episteme, My Arse

Christopher Tayler: Laurent Binet

14 June 2017
The Seventh Function of Language 
by Laurent Binet, translated by Sam Taylor.
Harvill Secker, 390 pp., £16.99, May 2017, 978 1 910701 58 4
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... use to discredit Mitterrand. Bayard is fine with that, but he’s an honest cop too, and his investigation isn’t perfunctory. Does the victim have any enemies? Sollers and Kristeva – flanked by Bernard-HenriLévy, who has also showed up, as he does throughout the novel – indicate that he does. Who? ‘The Stalinists! The fascists! Alain Badiou! Gilles Deleuze! Pierre Bourdieu! Cornelius Castoriadis ...
31 July 1997
The Serbs: History, Myth and the Destruction of Yugoslavia 
by Tim Judah.
Yale, 368 pp., £19.95, April 1997, 0 300 07113 2
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... Oh those awful Serbs! Until recently no one cared or knew much about them in the West and now almost everyone has an opinion about them and it’s most likely to be unfavourable. Karadzic and Mladic – icons of inhumanity – are taken as embodiments of the soul of their people. Even before the wars in the former Yugoslavia started, American newspapers are offering analyses of the Serbs. A New York ...

Diary

Jenny Diski: Rape-Rape

5 November 2009
... the woman concerned (Samantha Geimer – she has allowed her name to be published) has now said that she doesn’t want the matter pursued. Then I got twitchy when I read the petition written by Bernard-HenriLévy, and signed by Paul Auster, Milan Kundera, William Shawcross, Claude Lanzmann, Salman Rushdie, Mike Nichols, Neil Jordan, and, to bring up the female numbers, Diane von Furstenberg, the ...

Is there a Libya?

Issandr El Amrani

28 April 2011
... Tunisia’s Ben-Ali and Egypt’s Mubarak just weeks before, the success of the rebellion seemed a safe bet, particularly when France unexpectedly recognised the Transitional National Council after Bernard-HenriLévy persuaded Sarkozy to act quickly. Only a few years before, Sarkozy had given Gaddafi a warm welcome in Paris and, when criticised for it, pointed in his defence to Libya’s abandonment of its ...

Come and see for yourself

David A. Bell: Tocqueville

18 July 2013
Tocqueville: The Aristocratic Sources of Liberty 
by Lucien Jaume, translated by Arthur Goldhammer.
Princeton, 347 pp., £24.95, April 2013, 978 0 691 15204 2
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... A serious attempt to write a new version of Democracy in America would have to take a very different tack from Tocqueville’s, and no present-day French author seems equal to the task (in 2006, Bernard-HenriLévy published American Vertigo: Travelling America in the Footsteps of Tocqueville; it was an embarrassment even for him). It would also be wonderful to imagine a latter-day Tocqueville being able ...
25 January 2018
Butterfly Politics 
by Catharine MacKinnon.
Harvard, 490 pp., £23.95, April 2017, 978 0 674 41660 4
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... important and pioneering contribution to equality between the sexes and human rights, and in thanks for her warm friendship with the Hebrew University’. One of the people honoured alongside her was Bernard-HenriLévy, the French philosopher and critic of ‘Islamic extremism’, who in an interview in 2006 distilled his objection to the wearing of the hijab: ‘The veil,’ because it conceals the all ...

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