Posts Tagged ‘Tony Judt’

What use are historians anyway?

9 August 2010

By Kevin O’Sullivan

It’s been a tough few months for history. In June, Diarmuid Whelan, lecturer in international politics at UCC, died at the age of just 37. The following month Peter Hart passed away in Newfoundland. And on Friday 6 August the profession lost Tony Judt, professor of European Studies at New York University, author of Post War: A History of Europe since 1945 (2005) and frequent essayist for the New York Review of Books, The New Republic, the TLS and the London Review of Books.

They left many friends, co-travellers, correspondents and discontents among history circles. Yet their work was also vitally important to a world beyond the gated communities of academia. Whelan’s searches through the Owen Sheehy-Skeffington collection in the National Library unearthed Peter Tyrrell’s Founded on Fear, a memoir of his life in Letterfrack Industrial School in the 1920s and 1930s and a vital contribution to the debate on child abuse in Ireland. The public view of Hart’s work may have, as one poster (Captain Rock) put it to Pue’s, ‘differed greatly from the academy’, but its findings and – most significantly – the debate it sparked were an important contribution to changing perceptions of Ireland and Irishness in the late 1990s. Judt’s contribution with Ill Fares the Land (2010) was a global one, but no less important to Irish society in its assertion that ‘something is profoundly wrong with the way we live today’. Read More

Pue’s Recommendations for June

7 June 2010

Juliana Adelman: Summer always makes me a bit homesick for the USA, where just about now I would be putting my coat away for the next three months.  I’ve been reading the New Yorkers which arrive at our house more than a few weeks behind, but I can recommend a slightly dated piece on the politics of history which is available online.  By Professor Jill Lepore, it’s about the Boston tea party and the current Tea Party, but has resonances for this country.  I also read a great book over one recent sunny weekend, Still life: adventures in taxidermy by Melissa Milgrom (thank you, Dad).  Ok, so it might not be your usual deck chair reading, but if you have even a slight interest in the history of natural history it is fascinating.  Lightly written but not lightweight.

Lisa-Marie Griffith:I have spent the last week working at the Dublin Writer’s Festival so my main aim this month is to get through the large pile of books I have acquired. I promised to limit myself to three this year and here are my recommendations: The first book I succumbed to is David Mitchell’s The Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet which is about a Dutch Clerk who travels to India in 1799. There is a forum for discussion of the book here. The second book is Sarah Bakewell’s How to Live, or a Life of Montaigne in which Bakewell has taken the works of Montaigne and used them as a guide to modern living. My final book is Yann Martel’s new book Beatrice and Virgil. I loved The Life of Pi so I am curious to see if this is as good. I learned at the weekend that in order to promote literacy and encourage the Canadian Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, to engage with the arts Martel is sending him a book a fortnight. Any suggestions for where we can post our?

Tina Morin: As I’m writing this, it’s lovely and sunny here and Belfast, and I have every intention of getting out there and enjoying the good weather while it lasts! I plan to bring with me Penelope Lively’s 1979 novel, Treasures of Time. Recently republished by Penguin in its Penguin Decades series, it features a history PhD named Tom Greenway, who, while not busy in the archives, spends his time worrying about his future in a field in which job security isn’t always the name of the game. So familiar!! If that gets all a bit too depressing, I’ll head over to the Ulster Museum to enjoy some of the events they have planned for Archaeology Month 2010. They have various ‘History Hunts’ and meet-and-greets with Vikings planned throughout the month, and I’m particularly looking forward to the Hidden History Walking Tours on 8, 15, 22, and 29 June.  Promising a new perspective on Belfast’s past, this tour sounds too good to miss, especially if the sun holds out!

Kevin O’Sullivan: Long days, sunshine, weekends spent getting as far from the city as possible; love it while it lasts. Not that sunny days can tear your average historian away from the usual vices. This month’s? A book: historian Tony Judt’s Ill Fares the Land, a persuasive history/state of the world call to re-evaluate our political and social priorities and re-embrace the strengths of social democracy. Two podcasts: Talking History’s recent World Cup special and the return of BBC Radio 4’s A History of the World in 100 Objects. And, finally, a blog that I’d forgotten about until a conversation last week directed me back to it: Spangly Princess, a brilliantly-titled mix of history, culture, and football written by Vanda Wilcox, an English First World War historian working in Rome.