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This article reviews three recently published books on Habsburg Trieste, inquiring into the reasons for increased interest in this topic. The author suggests that this represents a type of 'imperial nostalgia' for the world we have lost, in particular for a political experiment in religious and ethnic diversity (as embodied by the flourishing of imperial Trieste's Jewish community) outside of the nation-state form. This nostalgia, in turn, reflects current concerns with identity, including scholarly attempts to theorize the contemporary situation in which the power of the nation state has been transformed. The analysis reveals that certain authors misread the realities of imperial Trieste through the lens of contemporary meanings of cosmopolitanism and tolerance. As an alternative, the article sketches out what the 'actually existing cosmopolitanism' of the Habsburg city consisted in.