Best Books of 2022: Politics

confident person: The Rise of Donald Trump and the Collapse of America
by Maggie Haberman, Mud sparrow £25

During the Trump presidency, Maggie Haberman of The New York Times established herself as a leading Trump watcher — managing to cover the president relentlessly while maintaining a relationship with him. Now, she steps back to offer the definitive biography of Trump and his improbable rise from real estate mogul and TV personality to the presidency. Her deep understanding of New York in the 1970s and 80s helps explain what makes Trump successful.

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dividing line: Trump in the White House, 2017-2021
By Peter Baker and Susan Glasser, Double day £20

As Trump prepares to run for president again, this report on the “cartoon-like chaos” of his first term comes at an opportune time. Two reporters paint a dangerous and dysfunctional presidency, based on the testimony of shocked and disappointed former Trump officials. The narrative of Trump’s struggle to retain power after his 2020 election loss is particularly graphic and illuminating.

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my fourth timewe drowned
by Sally Hayden, Fourth estate £20

Sally Hayden’s book, which won an Orwell Prize for political writing, humanizes refugees whose governments across Europe are desperately trying to prevent them from reaching EU shores. She focuses on Libya’s brutal immigration detention centers and the dangers and deaths faced by African migrants trying to cross the Mediterranean.

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spin dictator: The Changing Face of Tyranny in the 21st Century
Sergei Guriev and Daniel Treisman, Princeton £25

Dictatorships in the 20th century relied on violence and direct coercion. The book argues that a new type of spin dictatorship has emerged in the 21st century — in places as diverse as Hungary, Singapore, and Turkey — that adopts democratic form while subverting substance.

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dancing on bones: History and Power in China, Russia, and North Korea
by Katie Stallard, Oxford University Press £22.99

Katie Stallard’s book written before Russia invaded Ukraine presciently highlights how Vladimir Putin elevated the memory of World War II to national heroism The official ideology of the U.S. — reinforced by censorship, lies, and the persecution of dissident historians. As Stallard, a former Moscow and Beijing correspondent, demonstrates in this delightful read – very similar historical abuses are taking place in China and North Korea.

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Order: The Politics of Military Operations from North Korea to Ukraine
by Lawrence Friedman, Allan Lane £30

This expansive survey of war since 1945 covers conflicts ranging from the Korean War to Russia’s wars in Chechnya and Ukraine. It has new urgency and relevance in light of the outbreak of the largest land war in Europe since World War II. Lawrence Freedman demonstrated that military commanders must also be skilled statesmen—able to adapt to the changing demands of their political masters.

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Putin’s war: From Chechnya to Ukraine
by Marc Galeotti, Osprey £25

Mark Galeotti, one of the sharpest observers of Russian security affairs, began writing this book before Vladimir Putin launched his invasion of Ukraine. However, as the FT commentator noted, the results of exploring the deeper historical factors at play in Russia today are “very timely and compelling”. Galeotti argues that if Putin is content to build a strong state within his own borders, the Russian president will be remembered as a strong nation-building leader. Instead, Russia now faces decades of recovery from the lasting damage caused by arrogance, incompetence, and imperial overreach.

Book of the Year 2022

Throughout the week, FT contributors and critics have shared their favourites. Some highlights are:

on Monday: Andrew Hill’s Business
Tuesday: Environment at Pilita Clark
Wednesday: The Economics of Martin Wolf
Thursday: A novel by Laura Battle
Friday: The Political Science of Gideon Rachman
Saturday: critic’s choice

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chip war: Competing for the most critical technology in the world
by Chris Miller, Simon and Schuster £20

If oil was the key to the 20th century economy, semiconductors are the foundation of the 21st century economy. Within weeks of publishing this book, the United States announced vacillating restrictions on semiconductor exports to China. Chris Miller’s book, shortlisted for the Financial Times’ best business book of the year, traces the history of this important technology and paints a vivid portrait of the scientists and companies involved – and continues the story Today semiconductors have become central to a battle for technological and geopolitical dominance.

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rupture: China and the Race to the Global Future
by Andrew Small, Hurst £20

The growing geopolitical rivalry between the United States and China is undermining and possibly undermining the deep economic integration between the two countries. Small recounts the history of events and rivalries that have deepened distrust between Washington and Beijing — highlighting the struggle to control 21st-century technology.

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stolen focus: why can’t you pay attention
by John Harry, Bloomsbury £20

This book is for those of us (all of us?) who feel like we spend too much time staring at our phones and are losing our ability to focus. Johann Hari’s argument turns to politics, as he argues that Big Tech deliberately designs their products to be addictive and distracting, with harmful effects that are not just social and psychological — but political as well.

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how the civil war started: and how to stop them
By Barbara F. Walter, Pirate £18.99

Using the examples of countries like Yugoslavia, Syria, Libya, and Burma, University of California professor Barbara F Walter argues that the United States today meets many of the criteria for predicting a civil war. These include the politics of racial hate, democratic decay, widespread gun ownership, the urban-rural divide, and fearful populace. The enormous interest the book has generated in the United States since its publication earlier this year is disturbing evidence of the current level of focus on political division and violence in the United States.

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lead: Six Essays on World Strategy
by Henry Kissinger, Penguin £25

Henry Kissinger, 99, is still writing books. Here he profiles six leaders he knew – Lee Kuan Yew, Conrad Adenauer, Richard Nixon, Charles de Gaulle, Margaret Thatcher and Anwar Sadat — and concludes with general lessons about the character and wisdom of leaders who can change the world.

tell us what you think

What are some of your favorite books from this list — and which ones have we missed?Tell us in the comments below

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game after game: The Subversive Life of Nigel Farage
by Michael Crick, Simon and Schuster £25

Nigel Farage has never been elected to parliament but — as the Godfather of Brexit — has a good claim to be one of the most influential politicians in postwar Britain. Trump’s close friendship and admiration for Victor Orban), Farage was an ideal subject for Michael Crick – one of Britain’s most experienced and active political journalists.

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Liberalism and its discontents
Francis Fukuyama, Introduction£16.99

For more than 30 years, Francis Fukuyama has been one of the most influential political theorists in the West. Here, he examines the growing challenges to the classical liberalism he espouses—including identity politics, neoliberalism that has led to rising inequality, and the global revival of authoritarianism. This book recommends ways to revive the liberal cause.

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freeze order: The True Story of Money Laundering, Murder and Fleeing Vladimir Putin’s Wrath in Russia
by Bill Browder, Simon and Schuster £20

For years, the author has tried to get the West to take seriously the threat from Vladimir Putin’s Russia. In return, the Putin regime hunted him down around the world. Bill Browder’s new book about the struggle is part thriller, part policy prescription. It deservedly topped the bestseller list after Invasion of Ukraine.

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