The Best of Books 2022

EDITORS’ PICKS

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Demick’s reporting is resourceful and inspired, but her message is a dispiriting one: there is little the outside world can do to halt Beijing’s deliberate and systematic erosion of the distinctive cultures and traditions of Buddhist Tibetans and other minority groups within China.

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POLITICAL AND LEGAL

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Democracy Rules

by Jan-Werner Müller

Müller argues in this important book that the forms of popular authoritarianism seen recently in Brazil, Hungary, India, Poland, and the United States constitute a threat to democracy but do not herald a return to the fascism of the 1930s.

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ECONOMIC | SOCIAL | ENVIRONMENTAL

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The Spirit of Green: The Economics of Collisions and Contagions in a Crowded World

by William D. Nordhaus

Nordhaus emphasizes the indispensability of public policy interventions in the quest for a greener world, building on a lifetime of work incorporating the concept of externalities into the measuring of national income and the understanding of economic growth.

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MILITARY | SCIENTIFIC | TECHNOLOGICAL

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You Don’t Belong Here: How Three Women Rewrote the Story of War

by Elizabeth Becker

Becker delivers an enthralling biography of three female correspondents who reported on the Vietnam War, blending an account of the wider history with her protagonists’ growing doubts about the logic and legitimacy of the war.

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The Road Less Traveled: The Secret Battle to End the Great War, 1916–1917

by Philip Zelikow

Zelikow addresses the question of whether U.S. President Woodrow Wilson could have mediated a peace deal in 1916 or 1917 to end World War I before the United States joined the fray—perhaps sparing the world the rise of Bolshevism in Russia and Nazism in Germany.

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The American War in Afghanistan: A History

by Carter Malkasian

Combining meticulous scholarship with a practitioner’s eye, Malkasian provides a full and authoritative account of U.S. involvement in Afghanistan over the past four decades, leading up to President Joe Biden’s decision earlier this year to withdraw U.S. troops.

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THE UNITED STATES

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Tomorrow, the World: The Birth of U.S. Global Supremacy

by Stephen Wertheim

Wertheim explores when and why the United States embraced the global military supremacy that Americans have taken for granted for decades—and argues that this dominance has outlived its original purpose.

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An Ugly Truth: Inside Facebook’s Battle for Domination

by Sheera Frenkel and Cecilia Kang

With an impeccably sourced, highly readable volume based on hundreds of interviews and access to previously undisclosed documents from inside the company, Frenkel and Kang have produced an important addition to the literature on Facebook.

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Power and Liberty: Constitutionalism in the American Revolution

by Gordon S. Wood

Wood, seen by many historians as the greatest living scholar of the American Revolution, distills the core insights of his long career, covering power, liberty, concepts of representation and rights, slavery, and the emergence of a formidable judicial branch.

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WESTERN EUROPE

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The Ambassadors: Thinking About Diplomacy From Machiavelli to Modern Times

by Robert Cooper

Cooper, a British diplomat who for many years was the European Union’s unofficial foreign policy guru, presents a sweeping reflection on 500 years of transatlantic statecraft.

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European Language Matters: English in Its European Context

by Peter Trudgill

Trudgill, a linguist, offers a pleasurable and humorous voyage of discovery into the chaos of the English language as it is spoken today by well over a billion people across the world.

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WESTERN HEMISPHERE

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The Water Defenders: How Ordinary People Saved a Country From Corporate Greed

by Robin Broad and John Cavanagh

In this gripping page-turner, Broad and Cavanagh narrate the story of how a global coalition of environmental activists, labor unions, and religious leaders blocked a Canadian firm from opening a gold mine that threatened fragile watersheds in rural El Salvador.

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Amazônia

by Sebastião Salgado

Salgado, a famed Paris-based Brazilian documentary photographer, takes his camera deep into the Amazon rainforest, capturing both the startling beauty of nature and intimate, sensitive portraits of the everyday life of indigenous peoples.

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Civilizations: A Novel

by Laurent Binet. Translated by Sam Taylor

Binet playfully imagines a world in which the Aztecs and the Incas conquer western Europe, offering a redemptive fantasy that rescues history from the tragedy of the European destruction of the precolonial Americas.

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EASTERN EUROPE AND FORMER SOVIET REPUBLICS

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Moscow Monumental: Soviet Skyscrapers and Urban Life in Stalin’s Capital

by Katherine Zubovich

Zubovich’s fascinating history of skyscrapers in Moscow—the city Joseph Stalin hoped to make “the capital of all capitals”—goes far beyond architectural design and looks at the social and political ramifications of monument building in the postwar Soviet Union.

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Substate Dictatorship: Networks, Loyalty, and Institutional Change in the Soviet Union

by Yoram Gorlizki and Oleg Khlevniuk

In their rigorous academic study based on a vast collection of archival documents and memoirs, Gorlizki and Khlevniuk trace the evolution of Soviet regional party leaders from the late 1940s to the 1970s.

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White Russians, Red Peril: A Cold War History of Migration to Australia

by Sheila Fitzpatrick

In this enthralling historical narrative, Fitzpatrick, one of the most prominent historians of the Soviet Union, traces the travails of the waves of Russian and Soviet refugees who arrived in Australia in the late 1940s and 1950s.

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MIDDLE EAST

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Global Jihad: A Brief History

by Glenn E. Robinson

In this remarkably comprehensive account of the evolution of political jihad, Robinson provides an accessible history and a provocative analysis of one of the most important political movements in the world over the last half century.

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Archive Wars: The Politics of History in Saudi Arabia

by Rosie Bsheer

Bsheer precisely and elegantly describes the Saudi regime’s attempts, across the reigns of several kings, to both collect and suppress documentation about the country’s past in an effort to construct a narrative that will legitimize its rule.

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ASIA AND PACIFIC

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The Koreas: The Birth of Two Nations Divided

by Theodore Jun Yoo

Placing individual stories against the backdrop of economic, social, political, business, and cultural trends, Yoo brings both clarity and nuance to the complex, interwoven histories of the two Koreas since 1945.

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The War on the Uyghurs: China’s Internal Campaign Against a Muslim Minority

by Sean R. Roberts

Roberts reports that the frighteningly effective Chinese campaign to eliminate Uyghur culture that started with mass internments in 2017 has now reached such an intense pitch that it has become a “cultural genocide.”

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Kashmir at the Crossroads: Inside a Twenty-First-Century Conflict

by Sumantra Bose

Bose traces episodes of violence and resistance in the contested territory of Kashmir over three-quarters of a century. His analysis suggests that peace is more remote than ever.

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AFRICA

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Constraining Dictatorship: From Personalized Rule to Institutionalized Regimes

by Anne Meng

In this innovative and informative study of authoritarian regimes, Meng shows that regimes in which the ruler’s power is constrained by institutions last longer. The regimes of less constrained dictators, meanwhile, rarely survive.

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These Are Not Gentle People: Two Dead Men. Forty Suspects. The Trial That Broke a Small South African Town

by Andrew Harding

This disturbing narrative relates the 2016 deaths of two Black laborers at the hands of several dozen white farmers and the flawed, three-year trial that followed. Harding’s account grows inexorably into a searing indictment of contemporary South Africa.

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African Europeans: An Untold History

by Olivette Otele

In a sweeping history extending from the classical world to the twentieth century, Otele masterfully analyzes the changing relationship between Africa and Europe, particularly the hardening of racist European views about Africans.

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5/5 - (2 votes)
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SAKHRI Mohamed

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