【原评】The culture editor of the Danish newspaper that published cartoons about the Prophet Muhammad in 2005 offers a personal account of the ensuing controversy and what it means for democracy.
【原评】A superstar academic, who in 1992 tried to persuade people that they had got to the end of history, returns admitting that things are more complicated than he imagined. China has adopted a mixture of state capitalism and authoritarianism, and democratisation has failed in Russia and most of the Middle East. What is needed are high-quality political institutions; not an easy thing to build.
【原评】A blow-by-blow account of the birth of modern Germany on November 9th 1989, when, at an otherwise dull press conference in East Berlin, a government spokesman said that a new law permitting East Germans more freedom to travel would go into effect immediately. It changed Europe for ever.
【原评】An engrossing evocation of how China turned into a country that now exports in six hours as much as it did in all of 1978. Winner of a 2014 National Book Award, it captures the atmosphere of a country which was the ultimate group-think society and how it shifted to becoming a nation of individuals, set permanently on fast-forward.
【原评】An eloquent cultural historian of Ireland traces the quixotic character of the Irish revolution. Along the way, he teases out the many views of an artistic and bohemian generation that endlessly discussed the future of women’s rights, socialism, religion and sexual liberation.
【原评】An analysis of how the South China Sea has become the test of America’s strategic “rebalancing” towards Asia and of its willingness to protect its friends and allies from Chinese bullying. A battle of nerves that is vulnerable to miscalculation, misperception and sheer bad luck.
【原评】A richly entertaining account of a year spent travelling around the archipelago. It takes on some big themes: democracy, decentralisation, corruption, inequality, the failings of the educational system, and radical Islam, as well as the ghosts of hundreds of thousands slaughtered as Suharto took power in 1965.
【原评】How China cosied up to African politicians, by a former Shanghai bureau chief of the New York Times. More than 1m Chinese migrants have moved to Africa; they work on big projects and stay on, more for the money than out of ideology.
【原评】Scholarship and authority shine through this short version of John Röhl’s 4,000-page, multi-volume life of Kaiser Wilhelm, an emotionally needy, bombastic, choleric and hypersensitive man quite ill-suited to run the most powerful country in Europe.
【原评】A British historian makes full use of the treasure trove of Napoleon’s 33,000-odd letters and concludes that the French emperor was a tactical military genius who made some serious strategic mistakes and was far from being a brilliant statesman.
【原评】In this autopsy of an obsession, Henry Marsh seeks to explain how he hates cutting into the stuff that creates thought, feeling and music but just can’t stop himself. So elegantly written it is little wonder some say that in Mr Marsh neurosurgery has found its Boswell.
【原评】A bird’s-eye view of love and loss, this meditation on nature, raptors, grief and the strange life of T.H. White—English author of “The Goshawk”—was the discovery of the season. Winner of the 2014 Samuel Johnson prize for non-fiction.
【原评】History has not been kind to King Faisal I of Iraq. Still, he played a significant role in the making of the modern Middle East and this is the fullest portrait yet of this fascinating figure.
【原评】Inward-looking and now unfashionable, E.E. Cummings is a tricky poet to understand. With boundless new detail gathered through meticulous research, Susan Cheever succeeds where most other biographers have failed.
【原评】As a boy in Russia, Gary Shteyngart was frightened of everything: telephones, snow, cold, the ceiling fan, people in fur hats. But he got over it. A deeply moving love letter to his life and everything in it, including America, Russia, literature, women and his parents whom he teases without mercy.
【原评】A British academic shows how being a historian of France helped him recognise that his fellow Englishmen and women have embraced pluralism and immigration for at least 1,300 years, he concludes, and they should not give it up as it is a characteristic strength.
【原评】A magisterial account of the birth of modern Europe, from the Reformation, which broke the dominance of the Roman Catholic church, to the Peace of Westphalia, which entrenched the idea of the nation-state.
【原评】A gripping account of how a banned masterpiece, James Joyc’s “Ulysses”, was published in instalments in small literary magazines and then in private, limited print runs by dedicated patrons (most of them women) who had to smuggle copies into America and Britain.
【原评】The three protagonists saw themselves as “living exemplars of prophetic tradition” and for a fortnight subjected each other to mind-numbing speeches about the rightness of each of their causes. Camp David came to naught, but for a fleeting moment it seemed as if things in the Middle East might turn out for the better.
【原评】An elegant British writer dusts down Homer for a new generation, examining in detail the character of his two epics, from the gore of “The Iliad” to the blindings of “The Odyssey”. A lesson about honour, violence and masculinity.
【原评】A detailed reconstruction of the hunt for Avraham Stern and his small band of “Fighters for the Freedom of Israel”, better known as Lehi. Stern was among the first Zionists to mix religion and nationalism, and Patrick Bishop’s book has important lessons for the modern day.
【原评】An unlikely bestseller by a French economist, who, by looking at historical changes in the concentration of income and wealth, shows that the importance of wealth in modern economies is approaching levels unseen since before 1914.
【原评】A study of the searing 1920s by the founder of a well-regarded financial newsletter. It sheds light on a nasty, but largely ignored, episode and demonstrates that a laissez-faire approach can cure slumps better than the government activism of the 1930s—or indeed 2008.
【原评】Five previous extinctions wiped out plant and animal life on a huge scale; now a sixth is upon us. Is life resilient enough to withstand mankind?
【原评】A rich and accessible account of how quantum theory is becoming part of the mainstream in biology as it begins to explain such mysteries as how migratory birds sense direction, how molecules in the air are perceived as smell and how, precisely, tadpoles lose their tails.