LARB’s Best: Politics

LARB’s Best: Politics

Politics is the invariable relationship created by any human being in relation to society at large. As much as we may embrace it, or try to hide from it, politics surrounds us like oxygen. Aristotle’s observation that the human being is homo politicus — inescapably political — became bracingly relevant to Americans after the shock election of 2016, which took place shortly after my appointment to the editorship of the LARB Politics section. I resolved to curate a robust discussion that encompassed all points of view, from an international perspective.

One subject has overshadowed the nonfiction literary treatment of politics these last five years: the rise of illiberal populist movements here and around the globe. Our correspondent Gary Singh developed an expertise in the sociology of India under Narendra Modi, former Charlie Hebdo employee Jacob Hamburger reported from Paris in the wake of the terror attacks on that newspaper, while Katherine E. Young translated and profiled Azerbaijani author Akram Aylisli, who faces continued persecution in his own country. Mark Trecka wrote about populist movements in the Unites States and their effect on Indigenous peoples; Melanie Taylor Benson explained how activists misjudge reservation politics; while Christine DeLucia pointed to the glaring omission of Native Americans from a popular new history of the United States. Pastor Sam Washington wrote of the heartbreak of the evangelical embrace of Donald Trump and Erik D’Amato tried to unpack the conservative defenses of America’s most bellicose president. Robin Kaiser-Schatzlein specialized in the politics of inequality, while Charles Durst offered perceptive longform reporting from Southeast Asia.

Politics has never been an easy subject, and in the early 21st century, it has become downright maddening. But the urge to write about it and understand it has never slackened.

— Tom Zoellner


 




 

This digest is part of our year-round celebration of our 10th anniversary. To celebrate with us, please visit our anniversary page!