Selected by "The New York Times Book Review" as a Notable Book of the Year Final reflections on a happy life-from acclaimed historian Tony Judt. Tony Judt's "The Memory Chalet" is a memoir unlike any other. Each essay brings the smallest details of personal experience into the larger frame of history. Judt's youthful love of a London bus route becomes a reflection on public civility. Food and trains and smells all come alive as Judt takes us from the postwar London of his childhood through Paris, Prague, and points east to New York, where he found his home. Judt brings his moral clarity and wit to bear on everything from fast cars to radical politics and, finally, the devastating illness that took his life. This book, composed when Judt was paralyzed and unable physically to write, found its shape in the ordered rooms of a Swiss Chalet of the mind: a warm refuge in the closing darkness of his final years.
Tony Judt was the Erich Maria Remarque Professor of European Studies at New York University, as well as the founder and director of the Remarque Institute, dedicated to creating an ongoing conversation between Europe and the United States. He was educated at King's College, Cambridge, and the Ecole Normale Superieure, Paris, and also taught at Cambridge, Oxford, and Berkeley. Professor Judt was a frequent contributor to "The New York Review of Books," "The Times Literary Supplement," " The New Republic," "The New York Times," and many journals across Europe and the United States. He is the author or editor of fifteen books, including "Thinking the Twentieth Century," "The Memory Chalet," "Ill Fares the Land," "Reappraisals: Reflections on the Forgotten Twentieth Century," and "Postwar: A History of Europe Since 1945," which was one of "The New York Times Book Review"'s Ten Best Books of 2005, the winner of the Council on Foreign Relations Arthur Ross Book Award, and a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. He died in August 2010 at the age of sixty-two.