Oliver Goldsmith
An Appreciation: Tony Judt, the civilized dissenter
An Appreciation: Tony Judt, the civilized dissenter

We suffer these days from a surfeit of talking heads and an ever diminishing number of committed public intellectuals. The former deal in opinions, and what now passes for television and radio news programming is awash in their blather. The latter deal in ideas and their exploration through reasoned argument that proceeds from evidence, and, too often, they must struggle to be heard. The talking heads are scrupulous of little but the party line and speak the language of commissars. They flourish because the 24-hour news cycle and our shrinking collective attention span abhor complexity and nuance. The historian Tony Judt never did, which is why he was one of our most formidable public...