Like a good soldier, Zygmunt Bauman died with his boots on, fighting for what he believed. As is well known, young Major Bauman was responsible for furnishing sound political guidance to the military ranks in Warsaw during the late 1940s and early 1950s. More recently, as a distinguished academic elder statesman, he provided us with equivalent intellectual guidance well into the twenty-first century. He established himself as a discerning moral meteorologist who had a good sense of which way the wind was blowing.

Bauman was a born persuader, and for a whole lifetime he worked hard at keeping himself well informed and, preferably, ahead of the game. But he was also a pragmatist and a survivor. He saw the ideological battlefield shift profoundly and, likewise, his place upon it. In the course of a literary career that lasted, in effect, two generations, he was...

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