When the Facts Change: Essays, 1995-2010

When the Facts Change: Essays, 1995-2010


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"When the facts change, I change my mind--what do you do, sir?"

A great thinker’s final testament: a characteristically wise and forthright collection of essays spanning a career of extraordinary intellectual engagement

In an age in which there has been an erosion of fact-based journalism and the lack of independent public intellectuals has often been sorely lamented, Tony Judt played a rare and valuable role, bringing together history and current events, Europe and America, the world as it was and as it is with what it should be. In When the Facts Change, Tony Judt’s widow and fellow historian Jennifer Homans has assembled an essential collection of Judt’s most important and influential pieces written in the last fifteen years of his life, when he found his voice in the public sphere. These seminal essays reflect the full range of Judt’s concerns, including Europe as an idea and in reality; Israel, the Holocaust, and the Jews; American hyperpower and the world after 9/11; and issues of social inclusion and social justice in a time of increasing inequality.

Judt believed his real job was not to say what wasn't but to say what was--to tell a convincing, clear story from available evidence, and to do it with a view of what was right and what was just. This was not only a duty, but a moral responsiblity for Judt and When the Facts Change is a testament to his legacy.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780143128458
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 01/05/2016
Pages: 400
Sales rank: 821,059
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.10(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Tony Judt (1948–2010) was educated at King’s College, Cambridge, and l’École Normale Supérieure, Paris, and taught at the Universities of Cambridge, Oxford, and Berkeley. He was the Erich Maria Remarque Professor of European Studies at New York University and the director of the Remarque Institute, which he founded in 1995. Among other books, Judt was the author of Thinking the Twentieth Century, The Memory Chalet, Ill Fares the Land, Reappraisals, and Postwar, which was one of the New York Times Book Review’s Ten Best Books of 2005 and a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.

Jennifer Homans 
is the author of Apollo’s Angels: A History of Ballet. She lives in New York City.

Read an Excerpt

The only way for me to write this introduction is to separate the man from the ideas. Otherwise, I get pulled back into the man, who I loved and was married to from 1993 until his death in 2010, rather than forward into the ideas. As you read these essays, I hope that you, too, will focus on the ideas, because they are good ideas, and they were written in good faith. “In good faith” may have been Tony’s favorite phrase and highest standard, and he held himself to it in everything he wrote. What he meant by it, I think, was writing that is free of calculation and maneuver, intellectual or otherwise. A clean, clear, honest account.

This is a book about our age. The arc is down: from the heights of hope and possibility, with the revolutions of 1989, into the confusion, devastation, and loss of 9/11, the Iraq war, the deepening crisis in the Middle East, and—as Tony saw it—the self-defeating decline of the American republic. As the facts changed and events unfolded, Tony found himself turned increasingly and unhappily against the current, fighting with all of his intellectual might to turn the ship of ideas, however slightly, in a different direction. The story ends abruptly, with his untimely death.


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Table of Contents

Introduction: In Good Faith 1

Part 1 1989: Our Age

Chapter I Downhill All the Way 13

Chapter II Europe: The Grand Illusion 30

Chapter III Crimes and Misdemeanors 47

Chapter IV Why the Cold War Worked 65

Chapter V Freedom and Freedonia 85

Part 2 Israel, the Holocaust, and the Jews

Chapter VI The Road to Nowhere 107

Chapter VII Israel: The Alternative 115

Chapter VIII A Lobby, Not a Conspiracy 124

Chapter IX The "Problem of Evil" in Postwar Europe 129

Chapter X Fictions on the Ground 142

Chapter XI Israel Must Unpick Its Ethnic Myth 147

Chapter XII Israel Without Clichés 151

Chapter XIII What Is to Be Done? 156

Part 3 9/11 and the New World Order

Chapter XIV On The Plague 171

Chapter XV Its Own Worst Enemy 183

Chapter XVI The Way We Live Now 202

Chapter XVII Anti-Americans Abroad 215

Chapter XVIII The New World Order 234

Chapter XIX Is the UN Doomed? 252

Chapter XX What Have We Learned, if Anything? 269

Part 4 The Way We Live Now

Chapter XXI The Glory of the Rails 285

Chapter XXII Bring Back the Rails! 294

Chapter XXIII The Wrecking Ball of Innovation 303

Chapter XXIV What Is Living and What Is Dead in Social Democracy? 319

Chapter xxv Generations in the Balance 339

Part 5 In the Long Run We Are All Dead

Chapter XXVI Francois Furet (1927-1997) 347

Chapter XXVII Amos Elon (1926-2009) 355

Chapter XXVIII Leszek Kolakowski (1927-2009) 360

Chronological List of Tony Judt's Published Essays and Criticism 367

Index 375

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