Conversations with History: Institute of International Studies, UC Berkeley

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Conversations with History Blog

See a webcast of this interview:

The Power of Ideas: Conversation with Conor Cruise O'Brien; 4/4/00 by Harry Kreisler.

This interview is part of the Institute's "Conversations with History" series, and uses Internet technology to share with the public Berkeley's distinction as a global forum for ideas.

Archival photos courtesy of Conor Cruise O'Brien and Maire MacEntee.

Welcome to a Conversation with History. I'm Harry Kreisler of the Institute of International Studies. Our distinguished guest is Conor Cruise O'Brien. A Renaissance man, his remarkable life is a glorious testament to how ideas matter and how action, informed by ideas, book cover can make a difference. He is author of more than twenty books, including studies of Edmund Burke and Thomas Jefferson; a teacher and a historian who, in retelling the story of Ireland, has profoundly enriched our understanding of the forces of nationalism and religion; a diplomat whose work in the service of his native Ireland and the United Nations helped us comprehend the complexities where international ideals must come to terms with the reality of power and national interest; a member of parliament and a government minister who courageously helped his country begin the arduous process of rethinking its relations with the Protestant North; and a journalist and writer who has again and again jolted our thinking about some of the most important issues of our times, including Israel, South Africa, and relations between North and South. In all these efforts, book cover his example has compelled us to think about the past, to understand the present, and thereby to shape the future. He has just published his memoirs, which are called Memoir: My Life and Themes. And in his honor, a collection of essays has been published, edited by Richard English and Joseph Skelly, entitled Ideas Matter: Essays in Honor of Conor Cruise O'Brien.

  1. Background ... influence of parents ... education ... being Irish ... reading Kipling's Jungle Books
  2. Being a Writer ... first books ... affecting the debate on Northern Ireland ... biography of Edmund Burke ... writing about public issues ... prophecy in nonfiction writing
  3. Politics ... courage in politics ... debate on Northern Ireland ... role of intellectuals in politics
  4. Nationalism ... ancient force ... conflict with cosmopolitanism
O'BrienO'Brien and Maire MacEntee
Conor Cruise O'Brien and his wife, poet Maire MacEntee

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