About

Ian Buruma was educated in Holland and Japan, where he studied history, Chinese literature, and Japanese cinema.

In 1970s Tokyo, he acted in Kara Juro’s Jokyo Gekijo and participated in Maro Akaji’s butoh dancing company Dairakudakan, followed by a career in documentary filmmaking and photography. In the 1980s, he worked as a journalist, and spent much of his early writing career travelling and reporting from all over Asia.

Buruma now writes about a broad range of political and cultural subjects for major publications, most frequently for The New York Review of Books, The New Yorker, The New York Times, and The Guardian, La Repubblica, NRC Handelsblad.

He was Cultural Editor of The Far Eastern Economic Review, Hong Kong (1983-86) and Foreign Editor of The Spectator, London (1990-91), and has been a Fellow at the Wissenschaftskolleg, Berlin, the Woodrow Wilson Center, Washington D.C., St. Antony’s College, Oxford, and Remarque Institute, NYU.

He has delivered lectures at various academic and cultural institutions world-wide, including Oxford, Princeton, and Harvard universities. He is currently Paul W. Williams Professor of Democracy, Human Rights, and Journalism at Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY.

Ian Buruma was awarded the 2008 international Erasmus Prize for making “an especially important contribution to culture, society or social science in Europe.”

He was voted as one of the Top 100 Public Intellectuals by the Foreign Policy/Prospect magazines in 2008, and in 2010.

Ian Buruma was awarded the 2008 Shorenstein Journalism Award, an annual award which “honors a journalist not only for a distinguished body of work, but also for the particular way that work has helped American readers to understand the complexities of Asia.” It is awarded jointly by the Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Center in the Freeman Spogli Institute at Stanford University, and the Shorenstein Center on Press, Politics, and Public Policy in the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

Murder in Amsterdam: The Death of Theo van Gogh and the Limits of Tolerance (Penguin USA) was the winner of The Los Angeles Times Book Prize for the Best Current Interest Book.

In April 2012 Ian Buruma was awarded the Abraham Kuyper Prize at the Princeton Theological Seminary.

Theater of Cruelty won the 2015 PEN/Diamondstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay.

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8 thoughts on “About

  1. Geachte heer Buruma,

    Ik wil uw bedanken voor het indrukwekkende boek dat U geschreven hebt over uw grootouders. Het is lang geleden dat ik zo’n mooi boek gelezen heb. U schrijft dat u hoopt dat u hun nagedachtenis eer hebt bewezen. Ik kan u vanuit mijzelf zeggen dat de integere en liefdevolle manier waarop u uw grootouders beschrijft, mij diep hebben geraakt. Het is net alsof ik ze gekend heb. U heeft een prachtig beeld van uw familie geschetst.

    met vriendelijke groet,

    Gerrit Sleeuwenhoek
    Jan Campertlaan 3
    2343dh Oegstgeest
    Nederland

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  2. Dear mr. Buruma,
    I am an admirer of you since I read your history book about modern Japan (The creation of Japan from 1853 to 1964, in Spanish). I’m also a historian, specialised in Modern Age, and I’ve got the good fortune to be a professor and researcher in Ibiza.
    I was engrossed while reading the history book called Year Zero. A History of 1945 ( (in Spanish). I really like the book, the information processed, the way it is written, etc.
    I can not be making you any comments but if I could, I think you would be able to complete this interesting work.
    I found that you focus too much on the cases of Germany and Japan as countries that suffered authoritarianism and the subsequent attempt of decontamination, which ignores the case of Italy. In this state there were carried out very radical actions due to the change imposed from 1945. Of course, less than many would have liked, as in other countries. This issue is more evident in the chapter called “Drain the poison.”
    I would also like to address the question of the treatment against Nazism in Austria, which shows less information to process than what was happening in neighboring Germany.
    Moreover, speaking of collaborators, and their subsequent treatment of persecution, or not, with the Nazi regime in occupied countries in Western Europe, it barely mentions cases like Quisling of Norway, or Belgium, or the fighters from these countries in German military units.
    Also, consider that many of these people found refuge in Franco’s Spain. I’ve met a Latvian who fought with the Germans in the USSR. It still makes my skin crawl remembering when I learned that this gentle old man had been a Nazi.
    I hope that you do not feel that I address these considerations to make you humble. Hopefully someday we can match somewhere. I reiterate my admiration for your publications.
    Dankuewel!

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    • Thanks for your message. There are many things I left out of my book. I think this is inevitable. One is drawn to certain topics more than others. Also I tried to take a thematic approach, so I did not need to use every example as an illustration. best wishes, Ian Buruma

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  3. Mijn vader was ook in Berlijn Lichtenberg t.b.v. arbeidseinsatz Knorr Bremse. Ik heb nog foto’s uit het lager Mollendorfstrasse.

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      • Mijn vader heette Simon Hertog kwam uit Haarlem. Destijds via zijn werkgever, de Sierkan uit Haarlem, opgegeven. Bevrijd door de Russen en met een groep Russen en Polen richting Katowice gegaan. Daar in een groot kamp terecht gekomen ( ik vermoed een voormalig KZ ) Overigens heeft mijn zoektocht ertoe geleid dat een van de omgekomen Nederlanders tijdens het bombardement nu geindentificeerd is en een steen heeft op zijn graf.

        Een vriendelijke groet aan uw vader.

        Ton Hertog

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        Like

  4. Mijn vader heette Simon Hertog kwam uit Haarlem. Destijds via zijn werkgever, de Sierkan uit Haarlem, opgegeven. Bevrijd door de Russen en met een groep Russen en Polen richting Katowice gegaan. Daar in een groot kamp terecht gekomen ( ik vermoed een voormalig KZ ) Overigens heeft mijn zoektocht ertoe geleid dat een van de omgekomen Nederlanders tijdens het bombardement nu geindentificeerd is en een steen heeft op zijn graf.

    Een vriendelijke groet aan uw vader.

    Ton Hertog

    Like

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