1. Richard Hanania, Public Choice Theory and the Illusion of Grand Strategy: How Generals, Weapons Manufacturers, and Foreign Governments Shape American Foreign Policy. Could this be the best public choice treatment of U.S. foreign policy? Gordon Tullock always was wishing for a book like this, and now it exists. I see Hanania’s views as more skeptical than my own (in East Asia in particular I think the American approach has brought huge benefits, Europe too), but nonetheless I am impressed by his careful analysis. This is a book that should revolutionize a field, though I doubt if it will.
2. Claire Keegan’s Small Things Like These is one of the best written pieces of literary fiction this year. Very Irish, and it helps to have a one paragraph knowledge of Ireland’s earlier “Magdalen laundries” problem. It is not exciting for the action-oriented reader, but a perfect work within the terms of the world it creates.
3. Justin Gest, Majority Minority. The book considers racial transitions and how majorities may lose their ethnic or racial majority status. To see where America might be headed, the author considers histories from Bahrain, Hawaii, Mauritius, Singapore, trinidad and Tobago, and New York City.
4. Lloyd Llewellyn-Jones, Persians: The Age of Great Kings. The Persian empire had the best infrastructure of any of the great ancient civilizations. The Royal Road for instance stretched 2,400 kilometers. Read more about the whole thing here.
Hannah Farber’s Underwriters of the United States: How Insurance Shaped the American Founding is a good and economically literate treatment of the importance of maritime insurance during the time of America’s founding.
Gregory Zuckerman, A Shot to Save the World: The Inside Story of The Life-or-Death Race for a Covid-19 Vaccine is a good account of what it promises.
In the Douglass North tradition is Jennifer Brick Murtazashvili and Ilia Murtazashvili, Land, the State, and War: Property Institutions and Political Order in Afghanistan.