I just wanted to point to this NYRB essay on the late writer Tony Judt. Judt was mostly a historian and a political essayist (although he did the odd bit of literary criticism), and he stands out to me as one of the most rigorous and honest thinkers I have ever read. His Postwar is an essential companion to a lot of the European novels that tend to get a lot of play these days, and it’s also just a great thing for being an educated person on planet Earth.
Judt died an untimely death in 2010 from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, which he wrote about chillingly while he was dying of it. Had he lived, he would certainly be one of the essential essayists working today. Read his books. Learn. Become a better and more interesting human being.