Conor Cruise O’Brien at 100

By the end of the two-day symposium at Trinity, a more measured and nuanced appreciation of this extraordinary man was clear than during much of his life, or even at the time of his death. Cruise O’Brien has been called one of those people whose role it is to be brilliantly wrong. He was certainly wrong some of the time, as in his anti-anti-communist days when he speciously downplayed the character of Soviet tyranny, or later when he, likewise speciously, opposed a boycott of South Africa, which gave his enemies an opportunity to label him, wrongly, as an apologist for apartheid. But the two most impassioned speakers suggested that he was right often enough.

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