André Glucksmann was born in Boulogne-Billancourt, a suburb of Paris, to a Jewish family. His parents Rubin and Martha Glucksmann were left-wing Zionists, born in present-day Ukraine and the Czech Republic, who emigrated to the British Mandate of Palestine and then to France. André spent World War II in hiding while his mother worked for the French Resistance (his father was killed in 1940).
After the war, his mother moved to Austria, but he stayed in France. As a young teenager, he joined the Communist Party, but was expelled after criticizing the USSR's brutal suppression of the 1956 Hungarian uprising. He attended the École Normale Supérieure de Saint-Cloud and earned the agrégation (civil service teaching certificate) in 1961. He enrolled in the Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS) to obtain a doctorate under Raymond Aron. His first book The Language of War, was published in 1967, followed by Revolutionary Strategy (1968). He became a leading contributor to the left-wing journals J’accuse and Libération.
He rose to prominence as a teacher and Marxist at the Sorbonne when he supported the student revolts of May 1968. However, after reading Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s The Gulag Archipelago (1973), he turned away from Marxism, for which he was reviled by former comrades. He described his disillusionment in La Cuisinière et le Mangeur d'Hommes (The Cook and the Cannibals, 1975), criticizing the Soviet Union. He was one of France's most outspoken philosophers and a prominent defender of the USA. His other books covered a range of topics and included Les Maîtres penseurs (The Master Thinkers, 1977), La Force du vertige (The Force of Vertigo, 1983), La Bêtise (Stupidity, 1985), Dostoïevski à Manhattan (Dostoyevsky in Manhattan, 2002), and Voltaire Contre-Attaque (Voltaire Counterattacks, 2014). His childhood memoir Une rage d'enfant (A Child's Rage) was published in 2006.