New Left Review
Tony Judt (illus. Joe Ciardiello)
More circumspectly, the New York Times saluted his ‘deep suspicion of left-wing ideologues’. In June 2011 a Paris conference, jointly organized by the nyrb and ceri SciencesPo, celebrated Judt’s ‘scholarly rigour, elegance of style and acuteness of judgement’. Morally, he was ‘fearless’, ‘prophetic’, a new Orwell; intellectually, he was ‘formidable’, possessed of a ‘forceful lucidity’; as a historian of French political life, happily ‘inoculated against the revolutionary ideas that had been the stock in trade of the intellectual engagé’.
To what extent are these plaudits confirmed by a sober examination of Judt’s work, held to the normal scholarly standards of intellectual coherence and empirical plausibility? What follows will offer an evaluation of his writings, as the necessary precondition for an adequate assessment of his contribution as historian, publicist and scholar.
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