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When the Facts Change by Tony Judt
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When the Facts Change

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When the Facts Change by Tony Judt
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Jan 05, 2016 | ISBN 9780143128458

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  • Jan 22, 2015 | ISBN 9780698153370

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“Tony Judt was a historian whose journalism includes some of the finest things he wrote . . . In an era of growing anti-intellectualism, his essays remind us of what we gain when we stick fast to high ethical and intellectual standards, and what is lost when we let them slip.” Mark Mazower, Financial Times

“Scintillating journalism . . . This collection is a reminder of Judt’s clear mind and prose and, as Homans says in her lovely introduction, his fidelity to hard facts and to honest appraisal of the modern scene. . . . No wonder this book, and Judt’s assumption of the role of political critic after the Cold War, remain so relevant.” Samuel Moyn, The New York Times Book Review

Author Essay

Dear Reader,

The list of great historians who are also important moral voices in the culture, bona fide public intellectuals, is not long. Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. is one classic example. So is Tony Judt. It was a great honor to edit and publish Tony, and a terrible loss when he died before his time. He left behind, not just a series of important works of history and memoir, but a magnificent range of essays that had not yet been gathered into book from, the heart of which appeared in the New York Review of Books, to famous effect. Tony’s widow, Jennifer Homans, has lovingly and with great care selected a marvelous core set of his writings that reflect the range of his concerns, the writings of enduring value and interest. She has framed the collection with a tremendously moving and inspiring introduction, offering her perspective, both as a life partner and a great historian herself, on her husband’s work, and his character. It is that character that emerges so vigorously on every page of this book: Tony Judt was a person who steered by the conviction that one has a duty to speak up, and to speak with clarity, in good faith, when one sees a pressing concern. Without fear or favor – if ever there was a writer whose views could not be coopted, by any inducement, it was Tony Judt. Ironically, his most controversial essays had to do with the state of Israel and in particular its troubled relationship with the Palestinians; ironic because to accuse of anti-semitism this cosmopolitan émigré whose one fixed pole of identity was his heritage and status as a self-defined Jew would be absurd if it were not also scary. And it was scary: Judt and his family received credible threats at the time, and these essays were left to the side to cool, one might say. No one thought at the time that they would not be collected into a book until after his death. I certainly didn’t. His rapid decline and death is still shocking, not least because of all that will never be. But this is the moment to reflect on what was, and is, and will always remain. Working with Tony Judt was a signal honor, and this beautiful book is a fitting capstone to it.

-Scott Moyers

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