Tony Judt has apparently passed away following a two-year battle with ALS. No obituaries seem to be online yet. I’ll update this post with links to them and some thoughts of my own later in the day.
UPDATE I: While the official New York Times obituary has yet to be posted, this short appreciation by William Grimes has appeared on the NYT’s website. See also this piece on Judt’s working with ALS that appeared in this morning’s Irish Independent before news of Judt’s death had been announced.
UPDATE II: The NYT has now posted a complete obituary, also by Grimes. The Guardian (UK) also has an obit up.
A few thoughts of my own: I never had the opportunity to meet Tony Judt, so I can’t offer any personal reminiscences; my knowledge of him is entirely through his historical scholarship and his career as a public intellectual. When I read a piece by Judt, I could always count on its intelligence, its wit, and its independence from the orthodoxies that plague those of us who think about the past or try to comment on the present. To say that he was brilliant and independent is not at all to say that he was always right or that I always agreed with him. But he was always worth reading. In my opinion he was the model of a public intellectual. The historical profession has lost one of its most distinguished members and our public discourse has lost one of its most valuable and distinctive voices.