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Honorable Mentions: Political and private insights

2022 BOOKS OF THE YEAR | Selections on history, conservatism, economics, and personal growth

Honorable Mentions: Political and private insights
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The Last King  of America

Andrew Roberts
(Viking 2021)

This book, published after our 2021 Books of the Year report and subtitled The Misunderstood Reign of George III, ­covers one of the most ­consequential periods of British history. George’s greatest fault regarding America was not understanding the people he tried to keep in his ­kingdom. In Roberts’ view, the Colonists had governed themselves successfully for decades and reached a point where they could thrive on their own; slogans like “taxation without representation” were only pretext. George III was no tyrant. The mental instability (probably bipolar disorder) that distorted his later years clouded the image of a pious, temperate, intelligent, and faithful king. He deserves better from history, and with this biography, he gets it. (Reviewed in the May 21, 2022, issue of WORLD)

The Right

Matthew Continetti
(Basic Books 2022)

Conservatives used to rally around the ideas of free markets, religious morality, and strong national defense, but in the last decade that ­coalition has begun to splinter. What does it even mean to be “conservative” in America? And who gets to decide? The book’s subtitle, The Hundred-Year War for American Conservatism, communicates how Continetti understands the movement’s history. Conservatives have always been prone to infighting, grudges, defections, and purges. Reading the history of the movement helps put contemporary conservatives’ bickering in perspective. Conservatism has always featured a pugnacious streak. The heroes of this story are the writers—men like Friedrich Hayek, Russell Kirk, Milton Friedman, Irving Kristol, and Bill Buckley—who wrestled with the meaning of the movement. (Reviewed in the July 16, 2022, issue of WORLD)

Visible Hand

Matthew Hennessey
(Encounter Books 2022)

Most readers don’t know much about economics, the discipline described by Thomas Carlyle as “the dismal science,” but we feel we ought to. If we’re dutifully expecting a treatise on history and theory, however, we’re not getting it in Visible Hand. No charts or stats, either. Hennessey, deputy editor of The Wall Street Journal’s op-ed page, insists that economics is not dismal: “It’s the ­sparkling art of decision making.” He uses anecdote, personal example, and humor to clarify confusing concepts like inflation, price points, and wage and rent controls. Free markets are the “miracle” that Hennessey says opened up both resources and choices for more people. Economics isn’t theory—it’s life, and better understanding equals better choices, both individually and corporately. (Reviewed in the Sept. 10, 2022, issue of WORLD)

You’re Only Human

Kelly M. Kapic
(Brazos Press 2022)

There’s a concept Kapic would like to become a household term once again among God’s ­people: finitude. Kapic says American Christians don’t understand it. Finitude is the state of being “finite,” or limited. He writes: “In area after area, we sense our shortcomings, our longings to be more, to do more, and yet we run smack dab into our limits.” This work, written in elegant, accessible prose, will both convict and delight. Readers who tend to take on more responsibilities into ever-expanding schedules will learn how to say no. Yet they will also find rest in the knowledge that the end of their physical bandwidth is not a sign of sin, but a reminder that they are indeed not machines but creatures. God knows our limits. The goal of You’re Only Human is to make sure we do too. (Reviewed in the Sept. 24, 2022, issue of WORLD)

Next in this 2022 Books of the Year special issue: “A radical reversal?”


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