Books of the Year 2017


Politics and current affairs

The Retreat of Western Liberalism. By Edward Luce. Grove Atlantic; 234 pages; $24. Little Brown; £16.99
Few doubt that something big has happened in Western politics over the past two years, but nobody is sure what. Turmoil in Washington and London contrasts with centrist stability in Paris and (mostly) in Berlin. In this grim diagnosis Edward Luce, a Washington-based commentator, argues that the liberal order cannot be fixed without a clear view of what has gone wrong.

Refuge: Transforming a Broken Refugee System. By Alexander Betts and Paul Collier. Oxford University Press; 288 pages; $18.95. Allen Lane; £20
Lost in the row over Europe’s migration crisis in 2015 were the millions of refugees who stayed in the developing world, unwilling or unable to journey to richer countries. Growing up in a refugee camp often means little education and no work. Two experts at Oxford…Continue reading

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Redeeming Mary Magdalene

EVERY generation of artists has brought its own sensibilities and experiences to the depiction of canonical Christian stories. Giotto, an Italian painter, set Bible scenes in medieval Tuscany. Rembrandt gave his a hint of mercantile 17th-century Amsterdam. “Mary Magdalene” is similarly a retelling of some of the faith’s main events …

The mysterious reggaeton bangers of Mexico’s election

FOR evidence that modern democracy has lost its pep, look back to the age of cheery campaign jingles. The art form dominated elections from America to the Philippines after the second world war. Australian political parties used them well into the 1980s. It is tempting to believe that melodious campaigns …

The maddest March: at last, a 16-seed upsets a number one

THE line separating the improbable from the impossible is hard to pin down. The annual single-elimination tournament to crown the champion of North America’s National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) in men’s basketball is known as “March Madness”, thanks to the steady diet of upsets it produces. Every year, a few …