U.S. Intellectual History Blog

My Choice for the Book of 2010

When the editors at the OUP blog asked me to write a piece about my choice for the book of 2010, I knew immediately and without question what book that was: Eric Hill’s intellectually deep and endlessly rewarding Where’s Spot?, which I have read probably 400 times over the past year with my son (those readers with children know what I’m talking about). But more considered reflection made me think that the editors probably had something else in mind, so after a bit more thought I chose Tony Judt’s collection of short memoirs, The Memory Chalet.

Here’s the first paragraph from my post:
“Prior to this year, I was familiar with Tony Judt as the director of the Remarque Institute at New York University and as a controversial public intellectual: his stands against the politics of Israel and the current state of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process made him an object of scorn or celebration, depending on one’s politics. Judt’s presence in the public sphere as both an engaged intellectual and a deeply serious historian was comforting if rare proof that some in the United States still take seriously the life of the mind. But earlier this year, with the announcement that he had amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease), his work took a profound new direction that extended and deepened his intellectual example.”

Read the rest here.