No matter how many degrees one may accrue, most of us are lucky to have two or three teachers who truly formed us and our way of thinking, writing, and teaching. I was saddened to learn last week of the passing of one of the best teachers I have ever encountered, my graduate school advisor and the chairman of my doctoral dissertation committee, Emeritus Professor of History at Georgetown John D. (Jack) Ruedy. He died August 1 at the age of 89.
Modern Algeria: The Origins and Development of a Nation. A revised second edition brings the history into the present century.
His published work is well known among Maghrebists, and also deals with broader regional issues, but his true forte was teaching, inspiring generations of students. I first encountered him in my sophomore year as an undergraduate in a survey course on Modern Europe, and that persuaded me to take his undergraduate course on Islamic Civilization. The rest is history I guess. In graduate school his courses on the Maghreb and Islamic Spain were equally great despite a lot of reading required in French, neither then or now my strongest language. He believed in making his lectures entertaining, but he also believed in lots of assigned reading and the essential role of languages as a tool for historians.
While I think he was a little disappointed that most of his Ph.D. candidates (at least those of my era) chose dissertation subjects outside the Maghreb, he was always a positive but rigorous guide.
A native Californian, he took his doctorate at UCLA under Gustave von Grunebaum, and then took the position at Georgetown, where he spent his entire career. I am grateful for his teaching and guidance, and his friendship, and the role model he provided as both scholar and teacher. My condolences to Nancy and the children and grandchildren, and my profound gratitude.