Saul Goldberg: Tony Judt: the captivating wit and intellect of my friend and teacher

Historians in the News

[Saul Goldberg cycled across the United States for the organisation Move for ALS]

'Everyone needs a Tony Judt in their life." This was how one of his former students responded in 2009 when asked by a high school teacher to describe what Tony Judt was really like. I remember the teacher well. He was himself an intellectually serious man, not just familiar with Tony's work but an avid follower of it: he proudly owned every one of Tony's seven major history books, and subscribed to the New York Review of Books just to read Tony's essays. The teacher left me with a lasting impression of the addictive intellectual aura that Tony generated. I don't think Tony intended it, though he was certainly aware that his intellect made people all over the world wish that they could spend five minutes with him.

I was Tony's student, but ours was not a regular pupil-teacher relationship. He taught me during my final undergraduate semester at New York University in what was by far the best class I ever took, but I always looked up to him more as a nephew would towards an uncle, or even as a surrogate father. In part, this must be because we are related: my great-grandfather and Tony's grandfather were brothers, part of an influx of eastern European Jews that came to London in the early 20th century....

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