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PS Commentators’ Best Reads in 2020

Alongside histories of past plagues and timely treatises on race, this year's list of recommended books includes deep dives into the toxic world of social media and trenchant studies in development economics. Like memories of this year, all are topics that will continue to weigh on our collective consciousness. 

After a year that offered no shortage of time for reading, Project Syndicate commentators share their recommendations of titles that stood out. With timely studies of politics, economics, and technology, as well as histories of war, disease, and ideas, this diverse selection provides both practical tools for confronting the challenges that await us as well as reveries through which to escape, if only briefly, the anxieties of our current moment.

Daron Acemoglu

Andrew Marantz, Antisocial: Online Extremists, Techno-Utopians, and the Hijacking of the American Conversation, Penguin Books, 2020.

Although I did not expect to love this book when I picked it up, I found it to be one of the best recent accounts of how social media has come to dominate political discourse in the United States. A staff writer at the New Yorker, Andrew Marantz offers a prescient warning about the huge unintended effects that unregulated technology can have on our society. It is a book that all techno-optimists would do well to read and reflect upon.