Leftist historian Tony Judt dies at 62: report

8th August 2010, Comments 0 comments

Leftist historian and French socialism specialist Tony Judt, who once described himself as a "looney-tunes leftie, self-hating Jewish communist", has died at his home in Manhattan, aged 62, The New York Times reported Sunday.

The newspaper said the historian, who taught at New York University, died Friday from complications of Lou Gehrig's disease.

A British subject by birth and education, Judt lived in the United States and taught at American universities for most of his career as a specialist in postwar French intellectual history, the paper noted.

His dissertation on the French Socialist Party's re-emergence after World War I was published in France as "La Reconstruction du Parti Socialiste: 1921-1926" (1976).

In 1979 he followed up with "Socialism in Provence, 1871-1914: A Study in the Origins of the Modern French Left," and in 1986 he published "Marxism and the French Left: Studies on Labour and Politics in France, 1830-1981".

In January in The Guardian newspaper in London, Judt was quoted as saying: "Today I'm regarded outside New York University as a looney-tunes leftie, self-hating Jewish communist; inside the university I'm regarded as a typical old-fashioned white male liberal elitist."

He added: "I like that. I'm on the edge of both, it makes me feel comfortable."

Although his parents were Jewish and he supported Israel at an early stage, Judt lost faith in the Zionist mission later in life and began to see Israel as a malign occupying power whose self-definition as a Jewish state, he later argued, made it "an anachronism", the NYT noted.

© 2010 AFP

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