|Conor Cruise O'Brien|
Conor Cruise O'Brien, a contributing editor of The Atlantic since 1985, has had an impressive career as a scholar, diplomat, politician, government minister, historian, biographer, anti-war activist, intellectual, playwright, newspaper editor, prose stylist, political theorist, university president, and is an authority on Zionism, terrorism, Ireland, Africa, post-colonialism, and nationalism. Born in Dublin in 1917, he has held a variety of political and diplomatic posts, including positions in the Republic of Ireland's Department of External Affairs and in the Irish delegation to the United Nations. In 1961, O'Brien was chosen to serve on the executive staff of United Nations Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld; subsequently he resigned from diplomatic service and devoted his attention to writing and teaching. He recently revisited his storied past in two 1994 Atlantic articles: "Twentieth-Century Witness: Ireland's Fissures, and My Family's" (January) and "The Roots of My Preoccupations" (July). In his written works O'Brien has been concerned with what he calls "sacral nationalism," the volatile fusion of religion and nationalism -- an issue that, for example, is of central significance in his Atlantic article "Holy War Against India" (August, 1988). He has written more than a dozen books, including The Siege: The Saga of Israel and Zionism (1986), Passion & Cunning: Essays on Nationalism, Terrorism, and Revolution (1988), and The Great Melody: A Thematic Biography of Edmund Burke (1993). His article in the October issue of The Atlantic ("Thomas Jefferson: Radical and Racist") is drawn from his book The Long Affair: Thomas Jefferson and the French Revolution, 1785-1800 (The University of Chicago Press, 1996).
Copyright © 1996 by The Atlantic Monthly. All rights reserved.