In 2021, our editors looked at technology, meritocracy, and the trans debate.


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Athens: City of Wisdom. By Bruce Clark. Pegasus; 512 pages; $ 35. Head of Zeus; £ 25

A regular contributor on culture and ideas documents the history of one of the oldest inhabited places in the world, from its legendary origins to the bustling modern metropolitan area where an ancient passion for politics and verbal pyrotechnics remains intact. The result is a “story of enchanting readability,” said the Literary journal.

Framers. By Kenneth Cukier, Viktor Mayer-Schönberger and Francis de Véricourt. Dutton; 272 pages; $ 28. WH Allen; £ 20

Our By-Invitation editor and his co-authors explore what people can do this AI cannot: use mental models to see the world in a new way. AI depends on data, but human cognition applies counterfactuals to see what is not there. A plea for a pluralism “different, and better, than the usual recipes of intelligent thinking”, declared the Financial Time.

We see it all. By Jon Fasman. Public Business; 288 pages; $ 28. Scribe; £ 16.99

Our we The digital publisher examines the moral, political and legal implications of surveillance technologies used by police, reporting in Ecuador, Israel, Sweden and across America. It shows how surveillance affects everyone and what affected citizens can do. An “enlightening tale” says Editors Weekly, which “issues an essential warning”.

Trans. By Hélène Joyce. One world; 320 pages; $ 25.95 and £ 18.99

Our UK editor analyzes the sidelining of biological sex in favor of a self-proclaimed “gender identity” in situations ranging from rape crisis centers to sport. A “dazzling and sometimes devastating analysis,” said the Sunday opening hours. the New York Times called it “an intelligent and thorough response to an idea that has swept through much of the liberal world.”

Dohany Street. By Adam LeBor. Head of Zeus; 384 pages; £ 18.99

The third volume in a dark trilogy starring Balthazar Kovacs, a detective in the Budapest Criminal Squad. An Israeli historian is missing after investigating the lost wealth of Hungarian Jews murdered in the Holocaust. “A sure-footed piece,” said the Financial Time, located in “a Budapest made with exuberance”. By our former correspondent in Hungary.

A brief history of the movement. By Tom Standage. Bloomsbury; 272 pages; $ 28 and £ 20

One of our associate editors looks back on the rise of the car, the history and the future of urban transport, in a 5,500-year-old road trip that explodes myths and imagines unused roads. “Very fun and very timely,” said the Sunday opening hours. “Standage written with masterful clarity,” said the New York Times.

Two hundred years of scrambling. By Duncan Weldon. Small, brown; 339 pages; £ 20

A former British economics correspondent looks back over 200 years of the country’s economic history, showing how politics and economics have interacted since the Industrial Revolution. “Impressively researched, succinctly written and very readable,” said the Time.

The aristocracy of talent. By Adrian Wooldridge. Sky horse; 504 pages; $ 24.99. Allen Lane; £ 25

A story of the rise of the meritocratic idea, of its tendency to harden into an aristocracy and of the current revolt against it, by our departing columnist Bagehot. the Additional Literary TimesI called it “extraordinary and compelling … flawless entertainment, effortlessly drawing on a multitude of anecdotes and statistics.”

This article appeared in the Books and Arts section of Print Publishing under the title “Out-of-office policy”


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