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Rules of the Game

Jon Elster, 22 December 1983

by Raymond Aron.
Julliard, 778 pp., frs 120, September 1983, 9782260003328
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Clausewitz: Philosopher of War 
by Raymond Aron, translated by Norman Stone and Christine Booker.
Routledge, 418 pp., £15.95, October 1983, 0 7100 9009 9
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by Michael Howard.
Oxford, 79 pp., £7.95, March 1983, 0 19 287608 2
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... Raymond Aron died of a heart attack on 17 October, a few weeks after the publication of his memoirs. He died on the steps of the Paris courthouse where he had been testifying on behalf of his friend Bertrand de Jouvenel, who had been violently attacked in a book on French Fascism. The case was not a simple one, as de Jouvenel had said and done some imprudent things in the Thirties ...
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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... In lieu of Sartre and 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-Henri Lévy 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 unfair ...

Exit Sartre

Fredric Jameson, 7 July 1994

Past Imperfect: French Intellectuals, 1944-1956 
by Tony Judt.
California, 348 pp., £11.95, February 1994, 0 520 08650 3
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Arguing Revolution: The Intellectual Left in Post-War France 
by Sunil Khilnani.
Yale, 264 pp., £19.95, December 1993, 0 300 05745 8
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... of the ‘revolutionary year’ 1989). Yet it is sometimes difficult to know whether the wisdom of Raymond Aron is celebrated here simply because it is ideologically compatible, or on the contrary because Aron finally won, by sheer dint of living on into a period in which his old enemies were either dead or ...

Top of the Class

Geoffrey Hawthorn, 8 May 1997

The State Nobility 
by Pierre Bourdieu, translated by Lauretta Clough.
Polity, 475 pp., £45, November 1996, 0 7456 0824 8
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... to exercise intellectual authority in the name of that power. To make their point, they put up Raymond Aron to take down Sartre. The most distinguished living symbol of the one école was publicly, and in Bourdieu’s view resentfully, set against the grand old man of the other. The remorselessly liberal author of The Opium of the Intellectuals, La ...

Hey, Mister, you want dirty book?

Edward Said: The CIA, 30 September 1999

Who Paid the Piper? The CIA and the Cultural Cold War 
by Frances Stonor Saunders.
Granta, 509 pp., £20, July 1999, 1 86207 029 6
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... it still gives me an eerie feeling to read about people like George Orwell, Stephen Spender and Raymond Aron, to say nothing of less admirable characters of the Melvin Lasky stripe, taking part in surreptitiously subsidised anti-Communist ventures – magazines, symphony orchestras, art exhibitions – or in the setting up of foundations in the name of ...

Countries without Currency

Rahmane Idrissa: The CFA Franc, 2 December 2021

Africa’s Last Colonial Currency: The CFA Franc Story 
by Fanny Pigeaud and Ndongo Samba Sylla, translated by Thomas Fazi.
Pluto, 168 pp., £19.99, February, 978 0 7453 4179 8
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... were now countries in their own right.France chose to ignore his advice. The previous year, Raymond Aron had come up with very different findings in an essay titled ‘Economic Consequences of Political Developments in Black Africa’. Aron took the view that colonialism had involved a hefty investment of French ...

Is It Glamorous?

David Simpson: Stefan Collini among the Intellectuals, 6 March 2008

Absent Minds: Intellectuals in Britain 
by Stefan Collini.
Oxford, 544 pp., £16.99, July 2005, 0 19 929105 5
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... world, Collini finds, was always smaller than we like to think; meanwhile, both the Americans and Raymond Aron have imagined Britain as the place where the intellectual can live a happy and well-rewarded life. Collini’s book ought to put a stop to such fantasies. Not least among the virtues of Absent Minds is that it spares us another extended account ...

Bland Fanatics

Pankaj Mishra: Liberalism and Colonialism, 3 December 2015

On Politics: A History of Political Thought from Herodotus to the Present 
by Alan Ryan.
Penguin, 1152 pp., £14.99, September 2013, 978 0 14 028518 5
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Inventing the Individual: The Origins of Western Liberalism 
by Larry Siedentop.
Penguin, 448 pp., £9.99, January 2015, 978 0 14 100954 4
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Liberalism: The Life of an Idea 
by Edmund Fawcett.
Princeton, 496 pp., £16.95, September 2015, 978 0 691 16839 5
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An Imperial Path to Modernity: Yoshino Sakuzō and a New Liberal Order in East Asia 1905-37 
by Jung-Sun Ni Han.
Harvard, 244 pp., £29.95, March 2013, 978 0 674 06571 0
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... put in place systems of government based on a mixture of central planning and market intervention. Raymond Aron, worrying about the appeal of communism in Asia in the 1950s, suggested that non-liberal policies and institutions appealed to many state-builders in Asia because it was clear to them that liberal methods in politics and economics were doomed to ...

After the Cold War

Eric Hobsbawm: Tony Judt, 26 April 2012

... exclusively to academic intellectuals. The pages of the mainstream press had long been open to a Raymond Aron in France (clearly one of Tony’s inspirations), or a Habermas in Germany, and their impact had long been discounted. He was well aware of the risks, personal and professional, he ran in attacking the combined forces of US global conquest, the ...

Legitimate Violence

James Sheehan: After the Armistice, 5 July 2018

The Vanquished: Why the First World War Failed to End, 1917-23 
by Robert Gerwarth.
Allen Lane, 446 pp., £10.99, June 2017, 978 0 14 197637 2
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... fine book. ‘The very situations that bring about a modern war are destroyed in its wake,’ Raymond Aron wrote. ‘It is the battle in and for itself, and not the origin of the conflict or the peace treaty that constitutes the major fact and produces the most far-reaching consequences.’ In the First World War, the battle itself was dramatically ...
On Historians 
by J.H. Hexter.
Collins, 310 pp., £6.95, September 1979, 0 00 216623 2
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... Thus it is thanks to Hexter that I have learnt that, around 1930, Becker was a relativist, just as Raymond Aron was to become one on our side of the Atlantic a few years later. In the aftermath of the crisis of 1929, Becker came to acknowledge the truism that historical research only answers the questions one has prepared in advance to put to it. The 18th ...

Sociology in Cambridge

Geoffrey Hawthorn, 6 November 1986

... they were almost all exhilaratingly equivocal. In none of the arguments which deployed them, as Raymond Aron used repeatedly to say, was there a straight answer to the straight question: was revolution desirable, and if it was, how then was it to be brought about? Was it, as Aron himself hoped, introuvable, or ...


Douglas Johnson, 20 May 1982

La Cérémonie des Adieux 
by Simone de Beauvoir.
Gallimard, 559 pp., £9.25, November 1981
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Mes Années Sartre 
by Georges Michel.
Hachette, 217 pp., £6.15
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Oeuvres Romanesques 
by Jean-Paul Sartre, edited by Michel Contat and Michel Rybalka.
Bibliothèque de la Pléiade, 2174 pp., £22.50, January 1982
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... likely that some of them, at least, will be critical of the role that Simone de Beauvoir played. Raymond Aron has already said that his relations changed from the day that Sartre met her. Until then Sartre liked to have him as his companion, someone with whom he could talk: once Simone de Beauvoir had taken on this role, he was no longer interested in ...

Martial Art

Bruce Robbins: Pierre Bourdieu, 20 April 2006

Science of Science and Reflexivity 
by Pierre Bourdieu, translated by Richard Nice.
Polity, 168 pp., £14.99, September 2004, 9780745630601
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... well as to Bourdieu) to use the life to amend the theory. Perry Anderson has compared Bourdieu to Raymond Williams, another scholarship boy who turned into a social critic – and, however reluctantly, into a kind of social success. Surely there are further conclusions to be drawn from such stories – not least that lowly origins can themselves serve as a ...

Our God is dead

Richard Vinen: Jean Moulin, 22 March 2001

The Death of Jean Moulin: Biography of a Ghost 
by Patrick Marnham.
Murray, 290 pp., £20, June 2000, 0 7195 5919 7
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... One Monday morning in September 1940, Raymond Aron was lying in bed at a camp for Free French soldiers in Aldershot. His roommate, who had arrived the previous afternoon, asked him the time and, when told, replied: ‘Déjà sept heures moins vingt.’ Aron left the room. When he returned, his companion had shot himself ...

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