Jacques Barzun | Historian, 104

Jacques Barzun
Jacques Barzun
Posted: October 27, 2012

Jacques Barzun, a Columbia University historian and administrator whose sheer breadth of scholarship - culminating in a survey of 500 years of Western civilization - brought him renown as one of the foremost intellectuals of the 20th century, died Oct. 25 in San Antonio, where he had lived in recent years. He was 104.

His son-in-law Gavin Parfit confirmed his death, the Associated Press reported.

Barzun was 92 when he published what is widely regarded as his masterwork, From Dawn to Decadence, 500 Years of Western Cultural Life: 1500 to the Present. Journalist David Gates spoke for a majority of critics when he wrote in Newsweek magazine that the book, which appeared in 2000, "will go down in history as one of the great one-man shows of Western letters."

Barzun sustained one of the longest and brightest careers in academia, having first risen to prominence as a professor who helped shape Columbia University's approach to general education. He later was dean of the graduate school, dean of faculties and provost. He had firmly established himself in the national consciousness by 1956, when Time magazine surveyed the role of intellectuals in American life and placed him on the cover.

- The Washington Post

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