Editors' Picks

by Geoffrey Robinson

In this authoritative and harrowing account of the massacres of Communists in Indonesia in the 1960s, Robinson seeks to recover the episode from historical oblivion. What emerges is a scathing and persuasive indictment of the Indonesian military and the foreign powers—especially the United States and the United Kingdom—that were complicit in the brutality.

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by Benn Steil

In his well-crafted book, Steil argues that although the Marshall Plan was a strategic success, it also contributed mightily to the evolving Cold War. He shows that key U.S. policymakers understood that the initiative would trigger a Soviet clampdown in Eastern Europe and solidify the division of the continent—and went ahead with it anyway.

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Political and Legal

by Timothy Snyder

In an earlier book, Bloodlands, Snyder told the story of Nazi and Soviet genocidal violence. In this new work, Snyder makes an eloquent and frightening argument that fascism and authoritarianism have returned in new and subtler guises.

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by Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt

Levitsky and Ziblatt argue in this important study that democracies are dying in slower and more subtle ways than they did in the past—and Western democracies, including the United States, are not immune.

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Economic | Social | Environmental

by Douglas A. Irwin

At a time when Washington’s approach to trade seems to be undergoing a significant shift, this magisterial book surveys the entire history of U.S. trade policy since the Colonial era, using congressional debates and actions to show how conflicting domestic economic interests have led Americans to clash repeatedly over trade.

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Military | Scientific | Technological

by P.W. Singer and Emerson T. Brooking

Many books have charted the use and misuse of social media, but this is one of the most comprehensive and up to date. Singer and Brooking explain not only how this new information environment developed but also why our attitudes and behaviors are so susceptible to manipulation.

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by Daniel Ellsberg

This candid and chilling memoir describes how Ellsberg came to recognize that the U.S. military’s approach to preparing for nuclear war was terrifyingly casual. If war came, the United States was ready to obliterate not only the Soviet Union but also China—a plan that would have immediately produced 275 million fatalities and then led to another 50 million, owing to the effects of radiation.

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by Bruce Henderson

During World War II, almost 2,000 young Jewish men who had escaped to the United States from Austria and Nazi Germany joined the U.S. military, where their detailed knowledge of German military tactics and culture played a vital role as U.S. forces fought to liberate Europe. Henderson tells this tale skillfully, through the stories of eight young men.

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The United States

by Ron Chernow 

Despite his efforts as both general and president to defend the newly freed slaves of the American South after the Civil War, Ulysses S. Grant lies almost forgotten in his grave. Chernow has undertaken to remedy this historical injustice. The result is a sympathetic but clear-eyed biography that will be the starting point for all future studies of this enigmatic man. 

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Western Europe

by Ashoka Mody

In this book, the best history of the recent eurozone crisis yet to appear, Mody argues that the euro is dysfunctional “because it defies the principles of economics.”

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by Jenny Erpenbeck

This brilliantly understated novel traces with uncommon delicacy and depth the interior transformation of a retired German classicist after he stumbles upon a group of unauthorized African migrants encamped in Berlin.

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Western Hemisphere

by Michel Gobat

This account of the life and times of the American adventurer William Walker, who briefly seized the presidency of Nicaragua in the 1850s, paints Walker as a private standard-bearer of American democracy, entrepreneurialism, and technological progress. Gobat’s history reveals both the threat and the promise of U.S. liberal imperialism.

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by Phillip Brenner and Peter Eisner

A productive partnership between Brenner, a veteran Cuba expert, and Eisner, an accomplished journalist, has resulted in an eminently accessible, engaging journey through five centuries of Cuba’s tortured yet hopeful history.

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Eastern Europe and Former Soviet Republics

by Stephen Kotkin

This is the second volume of Kotkin’s massive biographical trilogy. In exquisite detail, it covers the critical years of Stalinism, from the decision to storm the country by collectivizing agriculture and imposing forced-draft industrialization, through the purges of the Great Terror, to the outbreak of World War II. 

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by A. James McAdams

In 1985, McAdams notes, 38 percent of the world’s population lived under communist regimes, and some 107 communist parties operated worldwide, with a total membership of 82 million people. McAdams tells the story of how this movement grew out of the crucible of nineteenth-century Europe, flourished in the Soviet Union, and then spread to China, Cuba, and beyond.

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Middle East

by Aisha Ahmad

In this one-of-a-kind book, Ahmad offers a simple and compelling hypothesis regarding the relationship between business elites and jihadists in Afghanistan and Somalia: anarchy is bad for business, so traders embrace Islam in order to create a black-market economy based on religious trust.

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Asia and Pacific