Franz Schurmann Memorial Presentation from New America Media on Vimeo.

Editor's Note: Eminent scholar and historian Franz Schurmann who co-founded Pacific News Service in 1970, passed away on Friday afternoon at his home in San Francisco. He was the author of numerous books including "The Foreign Politics of Richard Nixon: The Grand Design" and "The Logic of World Power: An Inquiry into the Origins, Currents and Contradictions of World Politics." (For more information about or to donate to the Franz Schurmann Memorial Travel Fund, please click here. Here, friends and colleagues pay tribute to Schurmann:

Andrew Lam, "Franz Schurmann: A Curious, Restless American Soul": When I think of Franz Schurmann, which is surprisingly often, I see him poring over his big book of maps, searching, mumbling names of foreign places. The atlas was frayed and faded with age, and over its pages Franz would squint as he leaned down to search for some particular a river or a valley—so intense was he and so close was his scrutiny that his nose nearly touched the surface. He might have been there, or he probably wanted to go there. Certainly, he was always curious about the place. read article »

Richard Rodriguez Remembers Historian Franz Schurmann: Franz Schurmann was a terrible driver... I remember once, after lunch, in his car, he was still talking about the Peloponnesian War or Richard Nixon in China or the spiritual energy, he predicted, would come from Latin America and wash over our gringo nation of drug users—and he ran a red light at Arguello. Horns. Fingers. Franz drove on. read article »

Peter Dale Scott, poet, writer and researcher: Franz Schurmann was one of the most ruggedly original thinkers on social matters that I have ever known, and he was a major influence on my own intellectual development. Though he chose at first to write principally about China, he was well versed in the culture and politics of all the world’s chief regions. Conversation with him was a major experience, in particular because of his ability to consider all events in both a global and a historic perspective. In 1965 he became one of the first prominent academics with consulting relationships in Washington to break with former colleagues and emerge as a leading opponent of the U.S. war in Indochina. Two decades later, he became one of the first intellectual analysts of Richard Nixon’s grand design for global equilibrium. Of his many books, the greatest was probably his synoptic masterpiece, The Logic of World Power: An Inquiry Into the Origins, Currents, and Contradictions of World Politics. Probably, not one of Franz’s friends agreed with all of his strikingly independent opinions. But I consider myself exceptionally lucky to have had him as a friend, and to have enjoyed the stimulating discourse in the many discussion groups that he himself established.

Frank Viviano, journalist: It would be impossible to count the number of people whose lives have been influenced, often profoundly, by Franz. I'm certainly among them. His intellect, his sense of commitment and his stubborn independence have been an inspiration.

Yoichi Shimatsu, lecturer at Tsinghua University in Beijing: Just three weeks ago, I mentioned in an academic paper on the environment of the Tibetan Plateau (delivered to Renmin— People's —University in Beijing), that I owe my understanding of the physiocrat school of natural economics to Franz (the only possible scholar in the world that I could have learned it from). When I complete the book on natural capital theory and its importance in a post-industrial era of climate change, it will be dedicated to Franz. His deep and broad thinking, his work and inspiration continue in the efforts of those who learned from him, including my own.

Jon Christensen, executive director, Bill Lane Center for the American West, Stanford University: I often think about the time when Franz came to visit me in Nevada and asked me to take him to visit ranchers in the mountains. We spent a couple of days knocking around remote central Nevada, bumping along rough roads, kicking at the dirt, looking at creeks and cows and grass, and talking with people, in their pastures, beside their ditches, in their kitchens. I thought I knew those people and those mountains. Franz showed me how to see the deep running historical, human dimensions of those mountain people, their convictions, beliefs, passions, desires. He helped me see the mountains as deeply human places. I've never forgotten that.

Laura Fraser, author: I remember so many Monday morning story meetings where I was amazed at Franz's breadth of knowledge and his generous intellect. He and Sandy taught so many of us what a story really is, and the kind of rigorous thinking you need before you say something to the world in print. He was so respectful of everyone, which was another kind of lesson.

Corina Pu, graphic designer and former PNS staffer: Sandy and Franz took me in one summer. They gave me shelter, support, a place to belong: love. I couldn’t wait until 6 o’clock rolled around, when Franz concluded his writing for the day and started cooking dinner. That’s when the Fateh Ali Khan CD got popped into Franz’s old-school boom box in the kitchen and the volume went up full blast. I’d pour him a “wee glass” of white wine from our giant jug ‘o wine into his tiny glass tea cup and throw a couple of ice cubes in there for him. Several refills later, and with another delicious and creative dinner on the table, we’d continue our delightful conversations and wait for Sandy to come home. Those evenings in the Sunset kitchen made my world come alive.

I felt so much love from the old man. His smile was like the sun beaming down upon me. One of my favorite Franz meals was the three-potato extravaganza, which was a plate of mashed potatoes, potato salad and baked potato. It was the most incredible carb-fest I’ve ever had. Franz’s other favorite CD at that time was Peter Gabriel, a gift from Cliff. What exactly does “shocking the monkey” mean? We discussed again and again. But [his] favorite was Solsbury Hill, and in particular, the last lines of each refrain, which we’d sing out loud together in the kitchen: “my heart going boom, boom, boom...”

Franz—What a beautiful, compassionate soul, who saved part of my soul forever. My heart is going boom, boom, boom. Hey, grab your things I’ve come to take you home.

Joe Loya, author: I'll never forget being out of prison only a few months, eating Chinese food with Franz somewhere in the Richmond, him listening to me talk about Montaigne, prison violence, Buddhism, probing me with questions. I had been struggling with my freedom. But this formidable man with a ferocious intellect made me feel intellectually beautiful that evening. I was both empowered by our dinner chat, but also humbled by the way I never felt recently incarcerated in his company. My mind was unfettered in his presence, so I experienced a dynamic freedom that night.

Hilary Abramson: Franz was an academic who listened as respectfully to a youngster without much schooling as to a colleague (maybe more so!). He was without guile. And that face! Whether happy or angry, his face was transformational. You had to love watching him greet people, play with his grandson, celebrate anything. When he was moved, he brought you into the moment.

Mary Jo McConahay, journalist: How many others can there be with such a breadth of knowledge of the world born of sheer curiosity? With such a desire to communicate first-hand that he had mastered 11 languages. He read newspapers from every corner of the world for the joy of it. That old New York Times atlas. You ask a simple question, then stand across it for an hour watching his finger trace a map, listening, learning, learning.

Sandip Roy, editor, New America Media: I will always remember Franz sitting at the office engrossed in the Chinese newspaper. And then the man who read some 11 languages would look up and say, "What do YOU think?" And by that simple question make room for you at the table. It didn't matter that what you knew would fill about a teacup compared to his vast knowledge. I know I will never meet anyone again who can compare something George W. Bush did to Hulegu Khan, the Mongol. Franz Schurmann, last of the great Mongols, has gone to meet his tribe. Adios.

George Gundrey: I will always remember how he would log on to the Internet and read the Arabic news papers in Arabic, the Chinese news in Chinese, the French news in French, and the Japanese news in Japanese. But as smart as he was, he never really did understand how an Apple Macintosh worked! :-)

Allison Engel: There were some brilliant minds at PNS (still are), but no one came close to Franz for his ability to tie together disparate trends around the globe and across disciplines. The delight he took in ideas! It was contagious. I count myself as very lucky to have watched him in action during my time at PNS.

Pueng Vongs: I remember one of my first jobs at PNS was to edit Franz. It was so incredibly intimidating: the student editing the scholar. But he always respected what I had to say and in turn instilled in me his passion for China and history. It helped to shape who I am as a writer.

Louis Freedberg, editor, California Watch: I remember during the dark days of apartheid in South Africa how he used to read newspapers in Afrikaans, and then insist on discussing what he had read with me, always revealing deep insights into what was going on behind enemy lines. Hamba Kahle, Franz.

Elaine Elinson: As a newly minted Asian Studies grad, I could not believe that my towering idol -- Franz Schurmann, coeditor of the China Reader series that had been at the core of my courses -- was going to be my boss at Pacific News Service. I was shaking in my boots, but Franz was warm and welcoming and gave me a pair of scissors... for my first task -- clipping the papers for news about China and Vietnam. He taught me to be a critical reader of the media, and the value of an internationalist perspective. He also let me snip out the crosswords and invited me to join (previously all-male) editorial meetings. His brilliance helped explain our turbulent world, and his generosity and confidence helped me and so many others become active in it.

Here are a few of the columns he wrote for Pacific News Service and New America Media over the years.

How Globalism Became Public Enemy Number One For Both Left And Right
The Saving Grace of Empire
Why Democracy Might Not Survive Without Tribes
In Perilous Times - Can Science and Faith be Reconciled?
Funny-Money Fuels Middle Class Dreams - But Only for so Long

Visit the Franz Schurmann Memorial page on Facebook here «

NAM's 40th Anniversary celebration will be held in San Francisco on November 12, 2010.

At our anniversary, we are going to formalize the Franz Schurmann Memorial Fund. The fund will support freelance journalists in our network on special travel assignments.

We would be grateful if you would take a few minutes to reach out to people you know who were associated with PNS/NAM who we may not be in touch with and encourage them to email Hilary Abramson so she can make sure they receive information about the anniversary. Or email Hilary yourself, if you have not heard about the anniversary.