Defining Ideas, Hoover Institution
April 6, 2017
Born into a Jewish family in Algeria in 1948, Bernard-Henri Lévy was raised in Paris, where he enrolled in the elite Ecole Normale in the embattled year of 1968. It was a dramatic historical moment. Revolutionary illusions and intellectual inflation filled the streets, while student uprisings were erupting from Japan to Germany, and from Berkeley to Harvard. That same year witnessed the crushing of the Prague Spring when the tanks of the Warsaw Pact rolled into Czechoslovakia, postponing the end of the Soviet Empire for two more melancholy decades. It was a time when rebellion and totalitarianism collided, and that experience ignited debates which defined French intellectual life for years to come.