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When the Facts Change: Essays, 1995-2010

4.21  ·  Rating details ·  272 ratings  ·  32 reviews
A great thinker’s final testament: a characteristically wise and forthright collection of essays spanning a career of extraordinary intellectual engagement

Tony Judt’s first collection of essays, Reappraisals, was centered on twentieth-century Europe in history and memory. Some of Judt’s most prominent and indeed controversial essays felt outside of the scope of Reappraisa
Hardcover, 400 pages
Published January 22nd 2015 by Penguin Press
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4.21  · 
Rating details
 ·  272 ratings  ·  32 reviews

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Sep 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
Every time I read his essays and book reviews, I mourn the loss of Tony Judt. This volume contains around 30 essays comprising book reviews, commemorative essays, and even some drafts of a proposed book about trains. They cover topics ranging from the Iraq War to the future of the welfare state to the dangers of over reliance on economic ideologies in politics to a bunch of other topics. These essays are short, well written, and highly literate. Judt was widely read in topics that most of us wil ...more
John Gurney
Dec 17, 2014 rated it liked it
This forthcoming, posthumous collection of essays from historian Tony Judt encapsulates his breath of knowledge, including European history and current affairs, Zionism and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the Iraq War, though he veers off track with his social democratic criticism of the United States economy. The essays include a few obits and several of his reviews from the New York Review of Books, all of which I enjoyed.

He says, "Trains are about moving people." In the United States, t
Howard Cincotta
Jun 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I have read and admired Tony Judt for at least 20 years, largely in the pages of The New York Review of Books, where many of these essays were first published. They now appear in this superlative, sadly posthumous collection, edited and with a moving introduction by his wife, Jennifer Homans. (Judt died of ALS in 2010, heroically writing up to the end of his life.)

I find it fascinating to compare Judt with another British-born Jewish scholar and historian of Europe, also educated at Cambridge, S
Justin Evans
Mar 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: essays, history-etc
Could it be? A book that is precisely the sum of its parts, neither more nor less? Facts collects a bunch of book reviews and short essays, mostly written for the usual suspects (NYRB). Most of them are solid. A few are great. A few don't really bear re-reading.

The most fun are the straight book reviews, all from before 9/11 and the invasion of Iraq. Judt destroys Norman Davies and other writers on Eastern Europe; fans of the take-down will enjoy that. The most relevant are the pieces that lead
Dariusz Płochocki
Szkoda, że Judt nie zdążył napisać pracy dotyczącej rozwoju naszej historii przez pryzmat lokomocji. Doskonały zbiór esejów z ostatnich 25 lat twórczości od problematyki ONZ, po wspomnienie Leszka Kołakowskiego.
Aug 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
Tony Judt’s last collection of essays, entitled, When the Facts Change, reminds us how much we lost when he died in 2010. Most of these essays were published in the New York Review of Books. As a regular reader of that publication for more than 40 years, I had read them all when they first appeared. Nonetheless Judt astonished me a second time with his erudition and intellectual versatility.

Jennifer Homans, Judt’s widow, provides an insightful preface documenting how hard Judt worked on his cont
Nov 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
Tony Judt is wise, widely-read, measured, cosmopolitan, patient, and literary. Qualities that made Judt a respectable public intellectual in the previous generation, these characteristics would now make him tiresome to readers of our current moment. Social media places a premium on other qualities: irony, sass, confidence, sarcasm, and perhaps most of all, cleverness that can produce snappy memes.

The death of public intellectuals, as we know them, is due not only to the structural reasons that s
William Korn
Jan 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: essays, history, politics
It took me a crashing long time to finish this book, not because it's hard to read, but because it consists of 29 essays, which would be highly punishing to read one after the other without pause.

Tony Judt has raised my understanding of modern history (i.e. late 19th century forward) than any other historian (directly) or fiction/non-fiction writer (indirectly). I now have a real feeling for the flow of the times which I didn't have when I was living the part of them post-1947.

My only difficulty
Feb 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing
selected judt essays creating a picture of his world history and polic sci views from 20th into 21st century. taken mostly from new york review of books, with some from tls and nyt
facts. essays and facts. essays and facts that make the reader think.
Brad Eastman
Jun 29, 2017 rated it liked it
I wonder what Mr. Judt would have made of this moment in history: Brexit, Trump, Le Penn, etc. The liberal world order for which he so passionately argues is crumbling. Mr. Judt is a communitarian, a EU apologist (in the best sense of the word) and committed to a globalism that is being rejected at a startling rate.

The essays in this volume are well written and insightful. However, Mr. Judt is blind to the criticisms of his globalist, liberal agenda that have only strengthened after his death. P
Jun 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
An exceptional read looking back at where history was going. Judt is prescient about weaknesses in European politics and the structure of the EU, and on the huge challenges facing Israel given demographics and its lack of high-quality politicians. 10-20 years on, his essays seem far ahead of their time. His writings on the US are less strong (unipolarity around a liberal hegemon is looking pretty good right now), but still represent a good insight on where left-wing thinking was in the 1990s/200 ...more
Jing Ma
Oct 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: politics
Great essays! Highly recommended.

The following quote from the great physicist Albert Einstein tells a similar story:
"This subject brings me to that vilest offspring of the herd mind -- the odious militia. The man who enjoys marching in line and file to the strains of music falls below my contempt; he received his great brain by mistake -- the spinal cord would have been amply sufficient. This heroism at command, this senseless violence, this accursed bombast of patriotism -- how intensely I des
Nov 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: essays
These essays are a joy to read. They cover a wide range of topics, yet each is addressed with clarity and precision. These are examples of a master craftsman at work.

Many of the subjects are familiar from Judt's other works, but some how this collection explores them in a fresh and interesting fashion. The collection just works well, and brings the many facets and scope of Professors Judt's preoccupations. Congratulations to Jennifer Homans for putting them all together. This is truly a fitting
Craig Dove
Feb 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
It has taken me a long time to finish this collection of essays, but not because they're poorly thought out or ill-written. Rather, the insight Judt shows is yet more depressing now - in the beginning of the third year of the Trump administration - than when I began reading it.
One thing that struck me was the continuity of Trump's "foreign policy" with George W. Bush, something that's easy to miss right now; Trump may not be interesting in assembling a "coalition of the willing," but the aliena
Andrew Pratley
Nov 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I am an abashed of Tony Judt. This collection of essays which covers a lot of ground is worth anyone's time. Essays are just the sort of thing you can read when you a bit of time to spare. Tony Judt is a master essay writer & each one of these finely crafted pieces has something worth saying & thinking about.
Aug 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Tony Judt is een intellectueel die ik had willen zijn. Ongemeen helder zijn zijn essays (dus ze zullen nooit het woord "zijn" twee keer achter elkaar zetten). Iedereen die ook maar iets wil begrijpen van de twintigste eeuw en de gevolgen voor de 21e moet dit lezen.
Andy Kindle
Apr 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
Some of these essays were difficult to get through, others were fascinating and full of poignant takes on events and trajectories of the world.
Apr 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It is difficult, if not impossible, to read this posthumous collection of essays by renowned historian Tony Judt without experiencing a notable sense of remorse. I’m referring not only to a specific feeling of sadness over Judt’s untimely death from ALS in 2010, but to a more general feeling of regret over what we, his readers, have lost with his passing.

For these essays – most of which first appeared in the pages of The New York Review of Books during the years 1995-2010 – attest to a clarity
Robert Miller
Feb 02, 2015 rated it liked it
Some of the essays compiled in this book are OK- mostly though, they are discursive (to use his word) discussions of old ideas or attempts to vitalize trending events with discussions about historical data that only he can get right. He heavily supports a "binational" approach to the Israeli/Palestinian "road map" issue and is sharply critical of America's "blank check" style support of Israel; in this regard, he criticized Presidents Bush and Clinton (One wonders how he would view Obama's persp ...more
Titus Hjelm
Jan 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have not always been a fan of Judt's politics. The 'fidelity to facts' is a classic right-wing trope against the 'ideological' interpretations of left historians. There is some of that here as well, but interestingly, Judt is at his best as a critic. The utter demolition of Norman Davies' Europe: A History is simply the most enjoyable book review I have ever read. Judt is extremely solid on Israel/Palestine (no matter what the online zealots say), and his call for the renewal of social democra ...more
Margaret Heller
May 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, politics
I read Postwar: A History of Europe Since 1945 last year and found it a very worthwhile read to understand how Europe got to be the way it is. When The Facts Change is a posthumous collection of mainly book reviews and a few unpublished essays that would have formed a book on the history of transportation. Tony Judt had a more nuanced view of world politics than some from his background and various places he lived, and his views on Israel challenged my own without sounding like scolding as so ma ...more
Jan 06, 2016 rated it really liked it
In 'When the Facts Change', Tony Judt proves yet again he was not only a magnificent historian, but also a brilliant essayist and political commentator. With themes and thought ranging from post-Cold War challenges in Europe, sharp critical reflections on Israel and US foreign policy, and current threats to social democracy, this collection of essays is highly recommended to anyone yearning for a broader - and historically substantiated - understanding of the world and the way in which we live n ...more
Kuang Ting
Jan 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing




Feb 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
To me, Tony Judt was one of the late 20th century's great public intellectuals. His interests were broad and varied, and the insights he brought to the important issues of history were legend. He could be very critical and sharp (see his essay on Norman Davies' History of Europe), and at the same time tremendously caring and sympathetic (see his book Ill Fares the Land). The late essays he wrote on train travel, published in the NYRB, are deeply touching and, dare I say, almost romantic.
Patti K
May 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This posthumous collection of Judt's essays is a reminder of what a
brilliant thinker and writer he was. The articles are provocative
with their forthright examinations of current events and geopolitical
issues. Although he is Jewish, he is refreshingly bold about Israel's
shortcomings in regard to the Palestinian Territories. His writing is
clear and thoughtful and makes one rethink one's own opinions on a
variety of topics. I highly recommend.
Jan 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
in the preface his wife said that in putting the book together what stood out is that she missed hearing is "voice" i second that i kept waiting for his essay or the current state of affairs in Israel Europe or the Middle east
Trina Knittle
Dec 15, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: goodreads-win
Goodreads win. Will read and review once received.

An interesting read. It was something I probably wouldn't have picked up on my own. I read some things I never knew about.
Mills College Library
907.2 J932 2015
Paul Goins
Sep 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
After six months on and off reading, finally finished this outstanding collection of essays. Thought provoking and perspective broadening.
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Born in 1948, Tony Judt was raised in the East End of London by a mother whose parents had immigrated from Russia and a Belgian father who descended from a line of Lithuanian rabbis. Judt was educated at Emanuel School, before receiving a BA (1969) and PhD (1972) in history from the University of Cambridge.

Like many other Jewish parents living in postwar Europe, his mother and father were secular,