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PS Commentators’ Best Reads in 2022

With a mix of titles that each deal with massive global issues, this year's list of book recommendations lends credence to the feeling that humanity is careening into an unknown future. If only policymakers were as ahead of the curve as publishers, perhaps our problems would seem more manageable.

At the end of another tumultuous year, Project Syndicate commentators once again recommend books that stood out from the crowd. Striking an impressive balance across genres, this year’s selection features old but newly relevant gems, political and intellectual history, topical literary fiction, and forward-looking policy advocacy. The breadth of topics, disciplines, and perspectives will, in one way or another, help readers make sense of the present – or perhaps just gain a better understanding of why its passing will not be widely mourned.


Nicholas Morton, The Mongol Storm: Making and Breaking Empires in the Medieval Near East, Basic Books, 2022.

Pundits tend to focus on the Crusades as the defining development in medieval Islamic history. But eleventh-century Muslims were more consumed with internecine conflict – the still-salient Sunni-Shia divide – than with barbarian European invaders. And when it came to relations with outsiders, the most important event, post-Muhammad, was the thirteenth-century Mongol invasion. As historian Nicholas Morton of Nottingham Trent University explains, it was these invaders who shattered the various principalities that constituted Islamic civilization, ushering in five centuries of inertia that did not end until Napoleon landed on Egypt’s shores in 1798.