Tony Judt, the historian, intellectual and teacher, died on Friday. Mr. Judt was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) a.k.a. Lou Gehrig’s disease, in September 2008 but continued to teach, write and lecture up until the time of his death. Mr. Judt considered himself lucky that much of his work required not the use of his hands, as is the case with many other who have been afflicted with the disease, but his mind, which was left relatively untouched by the ravages of ALS. Although I have never met Mr. Judt (we exchanged emails once), he often comes to mind as one of few intellectuals today who most closely embodies that traits of another intellectual giant of our times, George Orwell. Courageous, honest and introspective, Mr. Judt belongs to the rare breed of intellectual who is not only competent and intelligent enough to reconstruct and examine the foundation of our society in all its flaws and imperfections but is also bold enough to publicly confront those defects head on without pretension or self-aggrandizement. Mr. Judt was 62.
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