Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Albert Hirschman Dies

Albert Hirschman died yesterday at the age of 97. He was one of the most original thinkers of our time, as great a prose stylist as he was an economist, as important an anthropologist and sociologist as he was a theorist of development. France played an important part in his personal history. He spent the war there working for Varian Fry, an American who ran a network in the unoccupied zone that attempted to rescue persecuted, fleeing intellectuals and artists. I was privileged to know him through his two daughters, Lisa, who predeceased him some years ago, and Katia, who still lives in France today. His son-in-law Peter is my closest friend, and I burped his grandchild, Alex, on my shoulder eons ago. His death is a great loss not only for academia but also for the many friends he made in the course of his ceaseless travels, nearly always in the company of his vivacious, cultivated, and acerbically witty wife Sarah, who died earlier this year. Rest in peace.

(Princeton University Press will publish a biography by Jeremy Adelman early next year.)