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Bernard-Henri Lévy
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Bernard-Henri Lévy is a French philosopher and one of the most esteemed and bestselling writers in Europe. He is the author of over 30 books, including works of philosophy, fiction, and biography, as well as several documentary films. His latest book, L'Esprit du judaïsme, appeared in France in February 2016. An English translation, The Spirit of Judaism, will be published by Random House in early 2017.

Lévy's play, “Hotel Europe,” premiered in Sarajevo on June 27, 2014, and in Paris on September 9. The play is a cry of alarm about the crisis facing the European project and the dream behind it.

Works available in English include American Vertigo: Traveling America in the Footsteps of Tocqueville, a New York Times bestseller in 2006; Left in Dark Times: A Stand Against the New Barbarism (2008); and, with Michel Houellebecq, Public Enemies: Dueling Writers Take on Each Other and the World (2011).

A 2013 book, Les Aventures de la Verité, explored the historical interplay of philosophy and art. The book was written as a companion to an exhibition by the same name that Lévy curated for the Fondation Maeght in Saint Paul de Vence (June 29–November 11, 2013).

Lévy gained renown for his documentary film about the Bosnian conflict, Bosna! (1994). After starting his career as a war reporter for Combat — the legendary newspaper founded by Albert Camus during the Nazi occupation of France — for which he covered the war between Pakistan and India over Bangladesh, Lévy was instrumental in the founding of the New Philosophers group. His 1977 book Barbarism with a Human Face launched an unprecedented controversy over the European left’s complicity with totalitarianism. Lévy’s cultural commentary, novels and journalism have continued to stir up such excitement that The Guardian noted he is ‘accorded the kind of adulation in France that most countries reserve for their rock stars.’

Lévy has undertaken several diplomatic missions for the French government. He was appointed by French President Jacques Chirac to head a fact-finding mission to Afghanistan in 2002 in the wake of the war against the Taliban, a war that Lévy supported. He has traveled to the world’s most troubled areas. He followed the trail of Daniel Pearl in Pakistan to research his ‘investigative novel’ Who Killed Daniel Pearl? (2003). His book War, Evil, and the End of History (2004) took him to the sites of what he calls the world's forgotten wars, from Colombia to Sri Lanka. His reportage and commentary from Israel during the 2006 Lebanon war appeared to wide acclaim in the New York Times Magazine. And after an extensive, clandestine visit to Darfur in 2007, he reported on the ethnic cleansing and genocide there for Le Monde and for The New Republic. His first-hand account of the fall of Moammar Gaddafi in Libya appeared in the form of a writer’s journal (La Guerre sans l’aimer, 2012) and a documentary film ("The Oath of Tobruk," which debuted at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival).

Entries by Bernard-Henri Lévy

After the Brexit: Navigating without a Compass

(0) Comments | Posted July 1, 2016 | 3:29 PM

Could the United Kingdom take another vote? Of course it could; no legal obstacles stand in the way. A referendum, being a national consultation, implicates other nations only insofar as its result is duly reported to them. Suppose a critical number of British citizens were to become convinced that they...

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The United Kingdom's Strange Defeat

(8) Comments | Posted June 27, 2016 | 11:41 AM

The result of last Thursday's Brexit referendum marks a victory not of the people but of populism.

Not of democracy but of demagogy.

It is a victory of the hard right over the moderate right and of the radical over the liberal left.

It is a victory...

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Amid the Tumult Over France's Labor Reform, the Silence of the People

(4) Comments | Posted June 5, 2016 | 11:03 AM

Translator's note: Since the end of March France has been roiled by protests over the Socialist government's proposals to loosen France's famously rigid labor laws. The Nuit Debout movement, modeled on Occupy Wall Street and anti-austerity movements in Spain and elsewhere, began with nightly assemblies in the Place de la...

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The Spirit of the Age: Three Vignettes

(4) Comments | Posted April 27, 2016 | 10:22 AM

"Hijab Day" at Sciences Po

I realize that this is a minor event that has no more importance than we are willing, here and elsewhere, to give it. And yet I cannot quite get over the "Hijab Day" staged last Wednesday by a group of students at the...

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Double Lives: François Sureau, Renaud Girard, Pierre Leroy

(0) Comments | Posted April 8, 2016 | 2:38 PM

Blue on white... The yellow of time... The customs checkpoints of chance like doors open to the sky... I discovered François Sureau in Le Point a quarter-century ago when he published, under the guidance of Jean Schmitt, then the magazine's editor, a report on the Balkans that appeared a short...

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An Insult to Florence Hartmann -- And to International Justice

(22) Comments | Posted March 30, 2016 | 12:37 AM

The Hague, Thursday, March 24, early afternoon.

The international criminal tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), set up in 1993 to adjudicate crimes against humanity and crimes of genocide committed in the former Yugoslavia, was about to sentence Radovan Karadzic, one of the worst criminals of the Balkan wars...

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Writers and War

(10) Comments | Posted March 25, 2016 | 1:46 PM

The scene is a symposium organized by Elie Barnavi at the Bastogne War Museum in Belgium on the topic of war reporting generally and, particularly, how it can become a literary genre.

That was Sartre's thesis, who believed writing about war to be the genre par excellence.


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The World According to Trump

(52) Comments | Posted March 12, 2016 | 10:07 AM

PARIS - The word "trump," according to the dictionary, is an alteration of the word triumph. And because Donald Trump, the US presidential candidate, appears likely to become the nominee of the Grand Old Party of Abraham Lincoln and Ronald Reagan, we owe it to ourselves to ask in what...

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Signs of Umberto Eco

(5) Comments | Posted February 27, 2016 | 12:49 PM

A tumble of memories.

The meeting thirty years ago with our publisher, Jean-Claude Fasquelle: I find Eco zany, brilliant, mischievous, and independent-minded, a Zelig of absolute knowledge, always ready with a witty remark, irrepressible.

Another meeting some time before on the Rue de Bizerte, this one shorter, with Gilles Deleuze,...

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Confusing Jihadism With Internationalism

(10) Comments | Posted February 12, 2016 | 8:34 AM

I return here to Jean Birnbaum's book, Un silence religieux (Seuil 2016), which I mentioned in passing in last week's column.

The book raises a thorny issue and advances debate by highlighting our systematic underestimation of the spiritual element when analyzing jihadism.

Birnbaum gets it right --...

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François Margolin's New Film Explores How Jihadists Are Made

(39) Comments | Posted February 5, 2016 | 8:26 AM

Salafists is causing a sensation in Paris. One of its makers is my friend François Margolin.

We got to know each other in the late 1990s when I was reporting from Ahmad Shah Massoud's base in Panjshir and Margolin was doing his first documentary about the Taliban, which had recently...

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On the Anniversary of the Charlie Hebdo Massacre: A State of Intellectual Emergency

(0) Comments | Posted January 13, 2016 | 7:59 AM

Paris, Sunday, January 10. A day of remembrance and mourning. The streets are quiet, but France's heart is heavy with thoughts of the victims of the shootings at Charlie Hebdo, the kosher market, and the Bataclan. As we grieve, we read three very strange statements.

The first is from...

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Standing up to Saudi Arabia

(0) Comments | Posted January 6, 2016 | 7:53 AM

PARIS -- Iran is no paragon of democracy.

And when its leaders denounce the "criminal workings" of the "vile" Saudi regime and its links to terrorism, the pot is calling the kettle black.

Yet what occurred this past weekend in Saudi Arabia is worrisome for several reasons.


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Topic: Jews, France, America, and Anti-Semitism

(1) Comments | Posted December 15, 2015 | 8:44 PM

On Thursday, December 17, I will speak at the 92nd Street Y on recent developments in anti-Semitism in France and elsewhere in the world. Some of what I will say is sketched out in a column that appeared earlier today in Vanity Fair reporting on my...

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The French Rally to the Republic

(1) Comments | Posted December 15, 2015 | 4:12 PM

PARIS - Before the second round of France's regional elections on Sunday, most predictions suggested that five, perhaps six, of the country's regional governments would fall into the hands of the National Front (FN). But the French people pulled themselves together and turned out to vote in much greater numbers...

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The Threat to Democratic France

(0) Comments | Posted December 7, 2015 | 8:37 PM

On Sunday, France's worst side won the first round.

It must not win the second.

This coming Sunday, will the Front National, a despicable party led by a nepotistic clique replete with ex-cons pining for the good old days of wedge politics, gain control of entire regions of the...

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Reflections on Europeanism, Radical Islam, the Muslims' Task and Slips of the Tongue

(45) Comments | Posted November 29, 2015 | 8:27 AM

Romain Gary's famous distinction between nationalism as hatred for others and patriotism as love for one's own no doubt applies to the prominent display of the French flag. But, by the same token, why not the flag of Europe as well? Has it become such a meaningless rag that no...

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War: Thinking the Unthinkable

(12) Comments | Posted November 18, 2015 | 8:21 AM

So it's war.

A new kind of war. A war with and without borders, with and without states, a war doubly new because it blends the nonterritorial model of Al-Qaeda with the old territorial paradigm to which Daesh has returned.

But a war all the same.

And, faced with this...

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A Last Goodbye to André Glucksmann

(0) Comments | Posted November 14, 2015 | 12:40 PM

What is a philosopher thinking about when he decides, as André Glucksmann did, that he wishes to be cremated?

Resolute atheism?

Residual Platonism?

The uselessness of this body, of which nothing need remain?

Confidence in books, the philosopher's real tomb, the only one that counts, the only memorial worth...

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André Glucksmann: The Consummate Contemporary

(1) Comments | Posted November 11, 2015 | 8:26 AM

Editor's note: French philosopher, author, and activist André Glucksmann died on November 10 at age 78. With Bernard-Henri Lévy he was a founding member of the New Philosophers.

Swirling around my head since this morning are the many André Glucksmanns that I have known. Caroming, they send me into...

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