In an age in which the lack of independent public intellectuals has often been sorely lamented, the historian Tony Judt played a rare and valuable role, bringing together history and current events, Europe and America, wghat was and what is with what should be. In When the Facts Change, Tony Judt’s widow and fellow historian Jennifer Homans has assembled an essential collection of the most important and influential pieces written in the last fifteen years of Judt’s life, the years in which he found his voice in the public sphere. Included are seminal essays on the full range of Judt’s concerns, including Europe as an idea and in reality, before 1989 and thereafter; Israel, the Holocaust, and the Jews; American hyperpower and the world after 9/11; and issues of social inclusion and social justice in an age of increasing inequality.
When the Facts Change also contains Judt’s homages to the culture heroes who were some of his greatest inspirations: Amos Elon, François Furet, Leszek Kolakowski, and perhaps above all, Albert Camus, who never accepted the complacent view that the problem of evil couldn’t lie within us as well as outside us. Included here too is a magnificent two-part essay on the social and political importance of railway travel to our modern conception of a good society; as well as the urgent text of “What Is Living and What Is Dead in Social Democracy,” the final public speech of his life, delivered from a wheelchair after he had been stricken with a terrible illness; and a tender and wise dialogue with his then-teenage son Daniel about the different outlooks and burdens of their two generations.
To listen to When the Facts Change is to miss Tony Judt’s voice terribly, but also to cherish it for what it was and still is: a wise, human, deeply informed view on our most pressing concerns, delivered in good faith. Download and start listening now!