Michael Ignatieff

From Academic Kids

Michael Ignatieff (born 1947) is a noted Canadian scholar and novelist. He is the son of Canadian diplomat George Ignatieff.

Ignatieff went to Upper Canada College secondary school and then studied political science at Trinity College in the University of Toronto. There he met fellow student (and later Premier of Ontario) Bob Rae, who became a longtime close friend. After Toronto, Ignatieff and Rae both went to Oxford University where they studied under the liberal theorist Isaiah Berlin. He received his PhD in History from Harvard University in 1976.

Of Russian descent, Ignatieff is perhaps best known for his Russian Album which discussed the history of his family in the context of Russian history. He is a noted scholar and has written frequently on human rights issues. He is able to speak several languages fluently, including French, English and Russian. He is currently Carr Professor of the Practice of Human Rights and Director of the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at the Kennedy School of Government Harvard University and has seven honorary doctorates to his name.

He is a world-renowned expert on Middle Eastern affairs and has advised many of the world's leaders. He also writes fiction, his most recent publication being the well-received Charlie Johnson in the Flames. In 1997, Maclean's magazine named Ignatieff in its "Top 10 Canadian Who's Who." In 2003 Maclean's also named him Canada's "Sexiest Cerebral Man" because of "his made-for-TV looks and effortless eloquence."

In recent years, Ignatieff has gained even more notoriety in his home country because of his resolute stances in favour of Canadian support for the U.S. invasion of Iraq and the proposed Canada-U.S. North American Missile Defence Shield. In January 2005, influential journalist and historian Peter C. Newman suggested that Ignatieff could be an ideal leadership candidate for the governing Liberal Party of Canada after Paul Martin retires as leader sometime in the future. Ignatieff was the keynote speaker for the Liberal Party's national biennial convention in Ottawa in early March 2005. He distinguished himself amongst delegates by once again insisting that "Canada should be at the table" in discussions surrounding North American Missile Defense Shield programs and global security efforts. He also stated his support for the decriminalization of marijuana and urged the Liberal Party's top officials to redouble their efforts in promoting federalism and ensuring a "strong national government" for all of Canada.

Michael Ignatieff is currently married to Zsuzsanna Zsohar and has two children from a previous marriage.


  • The Needs of Strangers, 1984
  • The Russian Album, 1987 (winner of the 1987 Governor General's Award for Non-Fiction)
  • Asya, 1991
  • Scar Tissue, 1993
  • Blood and Belonging: Journeys Into the New Nationalism, 1994
  • Warrior's Honour: Ethnic War and the Modern Conscience, 1997
  • Isaiah Berlin: A Life, 1998
  • Virtual War: Kosovo and Beyond, 2000
  • The Rights Revolution, 2000
  • Human Rights as Politics and Idolatry, 2001
  • Empire Lite: Nation-Building in Bosnia, Kosovo and Afghanistan, 2003
  • The Lesser Evil: Political Ethics in an Age of Terror, 2004

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