Last Rites John Lukacs

Publication date:
24 Mar 2009
Yale University Press
208 pages: 210 x 140 x 17mm
Sales territories:


A master historian offers an eloquent and personal auto-history of his life and his ideas

Twenty years ago, John Lukacs paused to set down the history of his own thoughts and beliefs in Confessions of an Original Sinner, an adroit blend of autobiography and personal philosophy. Now, in Last Rites, he continues and expands his reflections, this time integrating his conception of history and human knowledge with private memories of his wives and loves, and enhancing the book with footnotes from his idiosyncratic diaries. The resulting volume is fascinating and delightful—an auto-history by a passionate, authentic, brilliant, and witty man.

Lukacs begins with a concise rendering of a historical understanding of our world (essential reading for any historian), then follows with trenchant observations on his life in the United States, commentary on his native Hungary and the new meanings it took for him after 1989, and deeply personal portraits of his three wives, about whom he has not written before. He includes also a chapter on his formative memories of May and June 1940 and of Winston Churchill, a subject in some of Lukacs’s later studies. Last Rites is a richly layered summation combined with a set of extraordinary observations—an original book only John Lukacs could have written.

Praise for Confessions of an Original Sinner:
“[Lukacs] is an often witty and always fascinating—even entertaining—writer.”—Washington Post

 Read more about John Lukacs, historian and author.

"Mr. Lukacs is one of the more incisive historians of the 20th century, and especially of the tangled events leading to World War II."óJoseph C. Goulden, Washington Times

"'Send the audience home wanting more', they say in the theater. With this beautiful book, by turns captivating, amusing and moving, John Lukacs has done just that."óJohn Jay Hughes, America

"John Lukacs has over the past forty years become one of the most interesting and popular historical writes in the United States. . . . [Last Rites] represents a capstone to an impressive intellectual achievement. . . . Lukacs's prose gives pleasure to his readers. He is a master of historical aphorisms and tart phrases that skewer sloppy authors and hapless historical actors. . . . A graceful summing up of [Lukacs's] life."—Lewis L. Gold, Magill's Literary Annual 2010