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The Year's Best
Top Hits of TAI in 2015

As the new year begins, be sure to revisit our top five essays and reviews from the print magazine, as selected by editor Adam Garfinkle. If the holiday season has left you feeling the need to reinvigorate your brain, these are a great place to start.

Best Essays

Joshua Mitchell, “Age of Exhaustion

How the triumphalist mutation of liberalism and the anti-liberal politics of identity have together brought us to the age of exhaustion.

Stephen Sestanovich, “Could It Have Been Otherwise?

Russian-American relations are in ruins. A look back at decisions made after the Cold War can help us understand what went wrong—and whether the United States had other options.

R. Jay Magill, Jr., “The Problem with Political Intimacy

Why American politicians so enthusiastically reveal their personal lives to us—and why they should knock it off.

Jerry Z. Muller, “The Costs of Accountability

The ballooning demand for misplaced and misunderstood metrics, benchmarks, and performance indicators is costing us big.

Rasha Al Aqeedi, “Caliphatalism?

An Iraqi exile eavesdrops on life in her old hometown of Mosul.


Best Reviews

Steven Teles, “Nudge, or Shove?

Cass Sunstein’s “libertarian paternalism” doesn’t just sound oxymoronic; it actually is. Liberalism deserves more forthright advocacy.

Harold James, “Capitalism Da Capo

Authors tapping into the renewed interest in the history and nature of capitalism are stumbling over an unexpected problem: There’s no agreement on what capitalism is.

Robert D. Kaplan, “Wat in the World

Aleksander Wat’s life and work stand as warning that the totalitarian temptations of the 20th century have yet to run their course.

Jeremy Mayer, “Reading Coates, Thinking Obama

Ta-Nehisi Coates has managed to write a book on America’s racial dilemmas without involving either Barack Obama or Martin Luther King, Jr. Or has he?

Francis Fukuyama, “Waltzing with (Leo) Strauss

A new book arguing for the ubiquity of esoteric writing in pre-modern times redeems Leo Strauss from his many detractors.

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  • WigWag

    Adam is right, the Jerry Z. Muller essay is a must read; it was brilliant. Do yourself a favor and take a look. Note to Adam Garfinkle; more Muller please.

    But there were a few other extraordinary essays that should have made Adam’s list but didn’t. For example, Dennis Ross wrote a great essay about the Obama Administration’s hits and misses (mostly misses) in the Middle East.

    • Anthony

      Francis Fukuyama’s Waltzing with (Leo) Srauss (significance of esoteric writing) is also worth a re-read.

      • WigWag

        I took a look; liked it, didn’t love it. Happy New Year.

        • Anthony

          Thanks, same to you! By the way, I enjoyed the Pushkin link.

          • WigWag

            Glad you liked it. By the way, in light of the Trump phenomenon, another brilliant essay worth revisiting is a Walter Russell Mead piece that appeared in Foreign Affairs in 2011.


          • Anthony

            I thought the Frum piece was insightful (read it a week or so ago) but he generally is when analyzing party politics. I’ll re-read WRM’s Foreign Affairs essay to refresh my memory but I agree he’s generally at his best in that milieu – though he no slouch in other areas. Thanks for 2011 link.

          • Andrew Allison

            Frum’s ideology prevents him from acknowledging that it’s a problem of both right and left. The Sanders effect is the other side of the same coin, namely the disconnect between our governing elites and the needs, wants and desires of “we the people”.

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