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Orwell’s heir?

Historian Tony Judt brilliantly dissected the failings of liberalism. But in the end he fell into the same traps

By Pankaj Mishra   February 2012

New century, new ideas: “The Revolt” (1911) by the Italian Futurist Luigi Russolo

Thinking the Twentieth Century by Tony Judt (William Heineman, £25)

“The twentieth century,” Tony Judt asserts in this luminous book of conversations with the Yale historian Timothy Snyder, “is the century of the intellectuals.” What does it say about intellectuals, then, that the century in which they exercised so much influence on policymaking and public opinion was also the bloodiest in history? There are some sobering answers—few of them flattering—in Thinking the Twentieth Century. Published two years after Judt’s death from motor neurone disease, this book contains…

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