Judt, Tony 1948- (Tony Robert Judt)
Judt, Tony 1948- (Tony Robert Judt)
Born in 1948, in London, England. Education: King's College, Cambridge University, B.A., 1969, Ph.D., 1973; attended the Ecole Normale Superieure, Paris.
King's College, Cambridge, England, fellow, 1972-78; University of California at Berkeley, assistant professor, 1978-80; St. Anne's College, Oxford University, Oxford, England, fellow, 1980-87; New York University, New York, NY, professor of history, 1987—, director of Remarque Institute, 1995—.
Royal Historical Society (fellow), American Academy of Arts and Sciences (fellow).
American Council of Learned Societies, fellow, 1980; British Academy Award for Research, 1984; Nuffield Foundation fellow, 1986; Guggenheim fellow, 1989; Pulitzer Prize in general nonfiction finalist, 2006, for Postwar: A History of Europe since 1945.
La reconstruction du parti socialiste, 1921-1926, preface by Annie Kriegel, Presses de la Fondation Nationale des Sciences Politiques (Paris, France), 1976.
(Editor) Conflict and Compromise: Socialists and Socialism in the Twentieth Century, 1976.
Socialism in Provence, 1871-1914: A Study in the Origins of the Modern French Left, Cambridge University Press (New York, NY), 1979.
Marxism and the French Left: Studies in Labour and Politics in France, 1830-1981, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1986.
(Editor) Resistance and Revolution in Mediterranean Europe, 1939-1948, Routledge (New York, NY), 1989.
Past Imperfect: French Intellectuals, 1944-1956, University of California Press (Berkeley, CA), 1992.
A Grand Illusion? An Essay on Europe, Hill and Wang (New York, NY), 1996.
The Burden of Responsibility: Blum, Camus, Aron and the French Twentieth Century, University of Chicago Press (Chicago, IL), 1998.
(Editor, with Istvan Deak and Jan T. Gross) Europe on Trial, Princeton University Press (Princeton, NJ), 2000.
(Editor, with Denis Lacorne) Language, Nation, and State: Identity Politics in a Multilingual Age, Palgrave Macmillan (New York, NY), 2004.
(Editor, with Denis Lacorne) With Us or against Us, Palgrave Macmillan (New York, NY), 2005.
Postwar: A History of Europe since 1945, Penguin (New York, NY), 2005.
Reappraisals: Reflections on the Forgotten Twentieth Century, Penguin (New York, NY), 2008.
Tony Judt is a highly regarded scholar of French history who has written on the waxing and waning fortunes of socialism in the France of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. His views have drawn the attention of critics on both ends of the political spectrum.
In his first book, La reconstruction du parti socialiste, 1921-1926, Judt attempts to account for the resurrection of the socialist party in French politics between the two world wars. In focusing on the 1920s, Judt fills a significant gap in the literature on the subject, most of which focused on the 1930s, according to American Historical Review contributor Steven Philip Kramer. The greatest contribution Judt's monograph makes to the literature, according to Journal of Economic History reviewer Michael Hanagan, is the author's "description of the party's precarious internal balance which was heavily weighted to the Left." Though both reviewers found something of value in La reconstruction du parti socialist, both considered Judt's effort flawed. Hanagan contended: "The major weakness of Judt's study is its lack of social and economic context." For Kramer, "the major flaw of this book is its pedestrian quality." Judt gets bogged down in details, Kramer noted, adding: "Considering the passionate quality of this period, one is surprised by how little excitement is conveyed in the prose."
In Socialism in Provence, 1871-1914: A Study in the Origins of the Modern French Left, the author examines the support Provence peasants gave the socialist program, a heretofore unrecognized aspect of French populist support for the ideology of socialism. Judt claims that support for socialism grew out of the specific promises of the program rather than out of a rural tradition of radicalism. Leslie Derfler, writing in the American Historical Review, commented: "Judt … has asked the right questions and has consequently produced an important and probably enduring book."
In Marxism and the French Left: Studies in Labour and Politics in France, 1830-1981, Judt continues his focus on the Marxism of people as they experienced it rather than on Marxist theory. With the electoral defeat of the communists and the socialists in 1986, just prior to the publication of this book, reviewers were sensitive to Judt's historical analysis of the rise and fall of the socialist ideal in a country as prone to revolutions as France. "Judt is concerned to explain—in the French context—the failure of Marxism to fulfill its main aspiration: to change the world in a desired direction," observed Jack Hayward in the Times Literary Supplement. Here for the first time Judt occasionally exhibits what Hayward characterized as "the enviable combination of sardonic wit, intellectual mastery and moral revulsion" that would characterize his subsequent writings on moral responsibility in modern French political figures. Marthe Lavallee-Williams reviewed the book for America, noting the difficulties in reading Judt's "dense text," but adding: "His command of interacting forces—demographic, economic and financial—clarifies the apparent contradictions cloaked under the appeal of Marx and Lenin for sophisticates and railway workers alike."
In Past Imperfect: French Intellectuals, 1944-1956, Judt takes to task Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, and others, who proudly aligned themselves with the French resistance during World War II but who remained silent on the subject of Stalinism during the postwar years as news of labor camps and repression reached the West. Carlin Romano, who reviewed Past Imperfect for the Nation, pointed out that Judt's earlier treatise, Marxism and the French Left, declared Sartre and his circle "pro-Soviet apologists who made a ‘daily contribution’ to the ‘enslavement of the satellite states.’" In Past Imperfect, Romano contended, Judt continues in the same vein: "The Greeks bashed their barbarians, Moe knuckle-punched Larry and Curly, and Tony Judt likes to stick it in the eye of French leftist intellectuals." Martin Bright in New Statesman and Society predicted that "[Judt's] fascinating book will be a sobering experience for anyone who has ever flirted with the ideas of French postwar philosophers," and Romano contended that "[Judt's] agenda, plainly, is to destroy Sartre's credibility, and counter-evidence gets brushed aside in the process." "If Judt argued merely that Sartre and Co. were wrong about policy issues or the future, his book would be a fair assault," Romano continued. "Its sinister quality stems from Judt's insistence that the postwar French leftists were morally bankrupt and intellectually dishonest. The truth is, they simply disagreed with Judt's conservative premises about politics and ethics."
Critics agreed that the essays in Judt's The Burden of Responsibility: Blum, Camus, Aron and the French Twentieth Century, based on lectures first given at the University of Chicago, continue the argument made in Past Imperfect that most of the leading French intellectuals of the post-World War II era were morally irresponsible. Instead of singling out figures to vilify, however, in The Burden of Responsibility, Judt singles out three praiseworthy figures who withstood the tide of the times and acted with exemplary regard for their fellow human beings. The Burden of Responsibility was reviewed by New Republic reviewer Tzvetan Todorov, who commented that Judt's history of modern French political thought as expressed by Leon Blum, Albert Camus, and Raymond Aron "displays the same qualities of deep learning, lively writing, and subtle, considered judgments as the previous book."
Judt is also the editor of Resistance and Revolution in Mediterranean Europe, 1939-1948, a collection of essays that trace the development of communism in countries in the Mediterranean during and just after World War II. In A Grand Illusion? An Essay on Europe, Judt widens his focus to include all of Europe as it neared the deadline for creating the European Union. The text is based on lectures the author gave at the Johns Hopkins Center in Bologna, Italy, in 1995. Here, Judt displays a deep skepticism about the possibility of a successful European Union.
The Politics of Retribution in Europe: World War II and Its Aftermath was edited by Judt along with Istvan Deak and Jan T. Gross. The collection of essays by eminent European scholars reviews the actions taken by European countries to lay guilt for the war and make the war part of their national history.
Reappraisals: Reflections on the Forgotten Twentieth Century is Judt's study of a century he considers to be a period of political extremes, poor choices, mistakes, and delusion. Nearly all of the twenty-four essays in this collection were originally published in either the New York Review of Books or the New Republic. His subjects range from the Holocaust to the Cuban Missile Crisis, and he reprints an essay on the 1967 Six-Day War that sparked controversy when it was first published. Judt evaluates the work and impact of various historians and intellectuals and criticizes such figures as Henry Kissinger, Tony Blair, and Pope John Paul II. A Publishers Weekly reviewer commented that although this volume contains no new content, it "cannot be bested." A Kirkus Reviews contributor noted that Judt "delivers body blows" to liberals, including Thomas Friedman, who favored the war in Iraq. The reviewer concluded: "An educative, intelligent voice urges us to attend to history and the life of the mind "
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
America, August 29, 1987, Marthe Lavallee-Williams, review of Marxism and the French Left: Studies in Labour and Politics in France, 1830-1981, p. 114.
American Historical Review, April, 1977, Steven Philip Kramer, review of La reconstruction du parti socialiste, 1921-1926, p. 373; June, 1980, Leslie Derfler, review of Socialism in Provence, 1871-1914: A Study in the Origins of the Modern French Left, p. 642.
Journal of Economic History, December, 1977, Michael Hanagan, review of La reconstruction du parti socialiste, 1921-1926, p. 1068.
Kirkus Reviews, February 1, 2008, review of Reappraisals: Reflections on the Forgotten Twentieth Century.
Nation, April 26, 1993, Carlin Romano, review of Past Imperfect: French Intellectuals, 1944-1956, p. 562.
New Republic, December 28, 1998, Tzvetan Todorov, review of The Burden of Responsibility: Blum, Camus, Aron and the French Twentieth Century, p. 42.
New Statesman and Society, February 19, 1993, Martin Bright, review of Past Imperfect, p. 40.
Publishers Weekly, January 28, 2008, review of Reappraisals, p. 51.
Times Literary Supplement, July 18, 1986, Jack Hayward, review of Marxism and the French Left, p. 782.