John Lukacs, iconoclastic scholar of history, dies at 95Historians in the News
tags: obituaries, historians, John Lukacs
John Lukacs, a Hungarian-born historian and iconoclast who brooded over the future of Western civilization, wrote a best-selling tribute to Winston Churchill and produced a substantial and often despairing body of writings on the politics and culture of Europe and the United States, died May 6 at his home in Phoenixville, Pa. He was 95.
The cause was congestive heart failure, said his son, Paul Lukacs.
An old-fashioned man with a prominent forehead, cosmopolitan accent, and erudite but personal prose style, Dr. Lukacs was a maverick among historians. In a profession in which liberals were a clear majority, he was sharply critical of the left and of the cultural revolution of the 1960s.
But neither was he satisfied with the modern conservative movement, opposing the Iraq War, mocking hydrogen bomb developer Edward Teller as the “Zsa Zsa Gabor of physics” and disliking the “puerile” tradition, apparently started by Ronald Reagan, of presidents returning military salutes.
“John Lukacs is well known not so much for speaking truth to power as speaking truth to audiences he senses have settled into safe and unexamined opinions,” John Willson, a professor emeritus of history at Hillsdale College in Michigan, wrote in the American Conservative in 2013. “This has earned him, among friends and critics alike, a somewhat curmudgeonly reputation.”
Dr. Lukacs completed more than 30 books, on far-ranging topics including his native country, 20th-century American history and the meaning of history. His books include “Five Days in London” (1999), the memoir “Confessions of an Original Sinner” (1990) and “Historical Consciousness” (1968), in which he contended that the best way to study any subject, whether science or politics, was through its history.
comments powered by Disqus
- History Says Bloomberg 2020 Would Be a Sure Loser
- Then and now: How Trump impeachment hearing is different
- Poland asks Netflix to make changes to documentary about Nazi death camp guard
- What is a caliph? The Islamic State tries to boost its legitimacy by hijacking a historic institution
- Russian Historian Professor, Found With Bag of Severed Arms, Admits He Killed Student
- Black Perspectives Publishes Online Forum: "Researching, Teaching, and Embodying the Black Diaspora"
- Distinguished professor, civil war historian James I. “Bud” Robertson Jr. passes away
- Noel Ignatiev, scholar who called for abolishing whiteness, dies at 78
- Historians Elizabeth Catte, Rebecca Solnit, and Peniel Joseph Quoted in Washington Post Article, "The Democrats Are Moving Left. Will America Follow?"
- When Southern Historians Made History Themselves