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Reading List December 19, 2016

The Best of 2016

Our top stories from the year.

2016 has been a tumultuous year for national and global politics, and Trump’s win has spurred action against a backdrop of great political inequality. As we gear up for a Trump presidency, here is a look back at some of our most popular work from the year that was.

What is Education Good For?
A forum by Danielle Allen, Carlos Fraenkel, Deborah Meier, Michel Degraff, Debra Satz, Lelac Almagor, Jeffrey Aaron Snyder, Lucas Stanczyk, Rob Reich, and Clint Smith
Preparation for democratic citizenship demands humanities education, not just STEM.


Common Property
Elizabeth Anderson
How did we come to view social insurance as socialist?


Searching for New Physics at CERN
Matthew Buckley
An eight-part series on mapping the frontiers of contemporary particle physics.


Reading Yeats in the Age of Trump
Stephen Burt
No poet captures the feeling of political failure—of having lost an unfair fight—quite like Yeats.


Holy Wars: Secularism and the Invention of Religion
James G. Chappel
Secularism is fundamental to liberal governance. But is it sustainable?


The Not-So-Revolutionary Single Woman
Jessa Crispin
The family is changing. Will the social contract catch up?


To Be and To Do
Leland de la Durantaye
The philosopher Giorgio Agamben grapples with a definition of humanity and human obligation.


Writing Human Rights and Getting it Wrong
Alex de Waal
The West likes morality plays with clear heroes and villains, in which it plays the role of savior.


Feeling Paranoid
Vivian Gornick
Phyllis Schlafly, Trump, and the terror of difference.


The Sweet Life of Sidney Mintz
Sarah Hill
A tribute to one of the century’s great anthropologists and teachers.


The Racist Dawn of Capitalism
Peter James Hudson
Recent histories of slavery and capitalism ignore radical black scholarship and its lessons.


The Souls of White Folk: Talking Social Justice and Reparations Under Trump
A podcast by Walter Johnson
What can W. E. B. Du Bois and the black radical tradition teach us about Trump and political action today?


To Remake the World: Slavery, Racial Capitalism, and Justice
Walter Johnson
What if we use the history of slavery as a standpoint from which to rethink our notion of justice today?


Black Study, Black Struggle
A forum by Robin D. G. Kelley, Derecka Purnell, Randall L. Kennedy, Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, Christopher Lebron, Barbara Ransby, Shana L. Redmond, Charlene Carruthers, Aaron Bady, Michael Eric Dyson, Amanda Boston, Bridget Todd, and Thabisile Griffin
The university is not an engine of social transformation. Activism is.


Trump Says Go Back, We Say Fight Back
Robin D. G. Kelley
The economic anxieties of Trump’s voters are inseparable from whiteness and racism.


Machinations of Wicked Men
Jonathan Kirshner
Niall Ferguson’s biography falsifies Henry Kissinger’s intellectual legacy.


Who’s to Blame in South Sudan?
Mahmood Mamdani
The country needs a political rebirth.


The Logic of Misogyny
A forum by Kate Manne, Imani Perry, Susan J. Brison, Amber A’Lee Frost, Christina Hoff Sommers, Doug Henwood, Tali Mendelberg, and Vivian Gornick
Misogyny is not about hating women. It is about controlling them.


Confronting Religious Revivalism
A forum by Avishai Margalit, Assaf Sharon, and Michael Walzer
Does liberal democracy require that we banish religion from politics?


Real Citizens
Jan-Werner Muller
Trump shows us that populism is not the same as legitimate protest—or democracy.


Paying for Punishment
Donna Murch
Debt now sends many people—especially black people—to jail.


As a God Might Be: Three Visions of Technological Progress
Meghan O’Gieblyn
On the recurring, and often conflicting, narratives of technology and progress.


On Stone Mountain: White Supremacy and the Birth of the Modern Democratic Party
Christopher Petrella
The Clinton-era Democratic Party was founded on the promise of racial oppression.


One Long Poem
Heather Treseler
A stunning trove of letters from Elizabeth Bishop to her therapist sheds light on the personal secrets that shaped her poetry.


Jesse Maceo Vega-Frey
An experiment in the possibility of ethically raising and slaughtering pigs for food.


Plus, check out last year’s most popular essays.

Our weekly themed Reading Lists compile the best of Boston Review’s archive. Previews are delivered to members every Sunday. Become a member to receive them ahead of the crowd.

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