Skip to main content

With the Death of Bernard Lewis, the Age of Academic Giants Has Come to an End

Michael Doran

As a graduate student at Princeton University in the mid-1990s, I grew to know and love Bernard Lewis, the preeminent historian of the Middle East who passed away on May 19, less than two weeks before his 102nd birthday. At the time, I was in my early thirties and he was a year or two short of eighty, though you would not have known it from the pace of his work—a pace with which I soon became familiar as his research assistant.

By then I had met any number of extremely accomplished people, but never anyone quite like him. Lewis was a genius, by which I mean not just that he was extremely intelligent but that he possessed dazzling and unique intellectual gifts. He knew somewhere between ten and fifteen languages. The ones that mattered most to him professionally—Arabic, Hebrew, Farsi, modern Turkish, Ottoman Turkish, French, and German—he knew extremely well. He also had a photographic memory.

To read the full piece on Mosaic Magazine’s website, click here.

Related Articles

Ancestry.Com(ics)

Martha Bayles

It’s just another TV ad, but it speaks volumes. Titled “Anthem,” the latest commercial from Ancestry.com offers a video montage of an African wo...

Continue Reading

Will U.S. Foreign Policy Change?

Craig Kennedy

Michael Doran on how the U.S. will respond to new evidence that suggests Saudi Arabia’s crown prince orchestrated the killing of Jamal Khashoggi...

Listen Now

American Politics and the Deadliest Attack on Jews in U.S. History

Lela Gilbert

In democracies, politics and politicians come and go, but Trump or no Trump, Jew-hatred moves steadily along its historic path as an unrivaled and utt...

Continue Reading