Facts Are Subversive

Political Writing from a Decade Without a Name

Timothy Garton Ash

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October 19, 2010
464 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
1 b/w illus.
ISBN: 9780300161175
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Timothy Garton Ash is well known as an astute and penetrating observer of a dazzling array of subjects, not least through his many contributions to the New York Review of Books. This collection of his essays from the last decade reveals his knack for ferreting out exceptional insights into a troubled world, often on the basis of firsthand experience. Whether he is writing about how “liberalism” has become a dirty word in American political discourse, the problems of Muslim assimilation in Europe, Ukraine’s Orange Revolution, Günter Grass’s membership in the Waffen-SS, or the angry youth of Iran, Garton Ash combines a gimlet eye for detail with deep knowledge of the history of his chosen subjects.

Running through this book is the author’s insistence that, whatever some postmodernists might claim, there are indeed facts—and we have both a political and a moral duty to establish them. By practicing what it preaches, Facts Are Subversive shows why Timothy Garton Ash is one of the world’s leading political writers.

Timothy Garton Ash is professor of European studies at Oxford University and a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. He is the author of eight previous books, including The Magic Lantern, History of the Present, and The File, and is a regular contributor to the New York Review of Books.

"A gifted and knowledgeable writer. . . . His aim is to . . . address some of the defining issues of the era in which we live, and yet show how difficult it is, ultimately, to define this decade."—John Gray, New Statesman

"His powers of observation and analysis and his sense of history in the making, combined with a generous humor and a knack for epigrams and zingers, make his essays both a pleasure and a revelation to read. Taken together they are a magisterial comment on a decade of rising non-Western powers, global warming, the crisis of capitalism, apparent US decline, and the somnambulism of Europe."—Brian Urquhart, The New York Review of Books

“One of the most enjoyable political books you’ll read this year, Guardian contributor Timothy Garton Ash’s new collection of essays sees him report on everything from the drug gangs of Sao Paulo to Barack Obama’s race for the White House. Scholarly, insightful and frequently laugh-out-loud funny, Garton Ash is particularly good on the finer details.”—GQ

"It is immensely refreshing to read Timothy Garton Ash’s new collection of political essays. . . . Unusually for a chocolate box book of this kind, scarcely any of the 48 offerings disappoint. Garton Ash . . . writes with such unfailing skill and perception that it is worth pausing to ask: what makes Garton Ash so worthwhile a commentator? I think the answer is twofold: he is a historian, which allows him to set events in their proper perspective and fit them into the continuity of his subject. He is also a passionate European who genuinely admires America—an unusual combination, especially for a British commentator." —David Blair, The Daily Telegraph

"The reader seeking enlightenment on the evolution of geopolitics has to read Timothy Garton Ash."—Denis McShane, The Independent

"If you want to know how important something really is, you have to look a little bit further than just its surface appearance. This is exactly what Ash has been doing for decades... the range of Ash’s interests is remarkable... The result is a little like taking a whistle stop tour of the world in the presence of a seasoned  and erudite companion who never gets over excited, but is full of shrewd and well-judged observations. ... the best articles, however, both get to the hearts of theri subjects and leave you wanting to know more—always a good sign."—Andrew Lynch, Sunday Business Post

"Timothy is, I believe, the best and most perceptive political writer of our time, and this book is a wonderful distillation of his thoughts on an extraordinary range of subjects.  They were excellent as individual essays; put together like this, they shine the clearest of lights on an entire decade.  I'm very grateful for the chance of re-reading them." —John Simpson

"Marvellously evocative… nuanced… In an environment where most columnists love to shout, his voice remains remarkably calm and considered."—Literary Review

"His sharp style, experience and sensitivity to the dangers of the chronicler becoming the prophet distinguish his work."—Morning Star

"The interplay of fact, fiction, spying, manipulation is indeed fascinating and all-important stuff… A must read for anyone interested in the past, present and future of the world’s most enigmatic engines."—City AM

"Timothy Garton Ash is a rarity among commentators… an engaging writer with an eye for key details and a refreshing lack of ideological baggage."—Birmingham Post

"Timothy Garton Ash is the best and most perceptive political writer of our time...This book shines the clearest of lights on an entire decade." —John Simpson

"A whistle stop tour of the world...Erudite...shrewd and well-judged."—Andrew Lynch, Sunday Business Post

"Invaluable."—Daniel Domby

"The book is invaluable because of its author’s good sense and foresight. . . . This book does something more worthwhile: it evokes a time just past—provoking questions where answers do not yet exist."—Daniel Domby, Financial Times

“These essays aid in understanding dynamic and complex issues without dogma attached.”—Library Journal

"[Timothy Garton Ash] knows his history and literature, and he combines reportage with passionate political commitment.” —Foreign Affairs

"[Timothy Garton Ash’s] forte is the exceptionally well-informed, vivid account of the personal, cultural and geopolitical elements at work at a moment of political decision in a country most of his readers previously knew little about… His virtuosity is frequently on display in this collection.”—The Nation

“Facts Are Subversive covers a decade of upheaval, disaster and disillusionment, in Iraq, in Washington and elsewhere. It’s remarkable how sane and wise Garton Ash remains, even in the heat of events...This grounding in the solid world helps explain how Garton Ash has been able to remain that rare and essential thing, a reasonable man."—George Packer, New York Time Book Review

[Garton Ash] is a historian with the journalist’s urge to be there, and a journalist with the historian’s knowledge of where he is. These qualities have made him one of the most reliable and acute observers of the past present, able to report on events as a witness and, simultaneously, assess them with a coolness of judgment that almost always holds up over time."—George Packer, New York Times Book Review

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