Lybess Sweezy

Jeanne asked me to speak about my memories of working with Daniel on his book Road to Gdansk, published in 1981 by Monthly Review Press. Road to Gdansk was unusual in that we printed an eye-catching banner to adorn the jacket, carrying extra information about the book, but also serving as a marketing tool usually associated with more commercial publishing houses than Monthly Review. Unlike most MR books, it was about events taking place contemporaneously. Daniel had finished the manuscript about a month after the Gdansk shipyard strike and was under some pressure to write on those events as a postscript to his main theme of the dissident movements in Poland and the then-USSR. This was really the first time I understood the depth to which Daniel was a communicator and teacher, as well as such a fine journalist. In his correspondence you always got a sense of what was going on in the bigger picture, but with a conciseness of style that made the editor's work easy. From his exhaustion of spending two intense weeks interviewing participants of the events that had taken place at the shipyards to more contemplative correspondence once he was back in Paris sorting out what he had found out, his excitement over the events unfolding was crystal clear.

He loved my father and I always felt he loved me and Ken and Lily and Izzy by extension. He cared for us as individuals but also because we were members of his family of right-thinking ---- that is, left-thinking people. When we sat down at their table in Paris to a soufflé risen on angels' wings, the specialty of the house prepared by Jeanne, the salad would have been tossed, the wine opened, Daniel would always have a delicious take on a delectable topic -- the Northern Leagues of Italy, the IMF, German immigration policy, how The Economist had changed over the years. With his signature "You see" punctuating his thoughts, Daniel really did want you to see. Putting an idea into context and making it useful to his interlocutors was one of the purest expressions of his joie de vivre.

Whether he was taking our girls down to the wine cellar hidden away below the dusty stairs in the basement of their beautiful old home on the Rue de Bièvre or discussing with Ken and me the meaning of the latest wonderful French scandal, Daniel joyfully brought us along with his richly accessible eloquence. He was deep without being florid, effectively didactic without being condescending. Since he was a careful listener, he was easy to connect with. Giacometti once said, "I'd trade my entire oeuvre for one good conversation." What wouldn't we all give for one more conversation with Daniel?

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