- I’ve continued to really enjoy Ribbonfarm. Some especially interesting or memorable pieces: Adam Elkus' The Strategy of Subversive Conflict; Sarah Perry’s The Origin of Authenticity in the Breakdown of the Illusion of the Real, The Art of the Conspiracy Theory, and Dares, Costly Signals, and Psychopaths; and Venkatesh Rao’s massive 14,000 word piece King Ruinous and the City of Darkness - combining personal memoir, Bihari politics in the age of Lalu Prasad Yadav, the Tata business empire, and many other things in a surprisingly interesting stew.
- Nick Szabo writes occasionally at Unenumerated. His piece on Artifacts of wealth: patterns in the evolution of collectibles and money was very thought-provoking, but just about everything there is worth reading.
- If you’re a political science or IR person, Paul Musgrave has been blogging regularly, mostly but not exclusively interesting book reviews. His twitter account is also very much worth following.
- Nintil is another good blog I discovered this year. I especially enjoyed the Soviet Union series, a good example of the very useful “someone reads the literature so I don’t have to” form of blogging.
- If you’re interested in Chinese politics and economics, Andrew Batson has been really good this year. I especially enjoyed his post What is Socialist about “Socialism with Chinese characteristics”?, but there were many other good ones.
- More China: I’ve really enjoyed following Everyday Life in Mao’s China. Beyond the pictures of “everyday life” during a sometimes difficult period, there’s also a lot of rare art, much of it not obviously political.
- Maciej Ceglowski has some really great talks here. I found the the one on Superintelligence arguments and the one on Lev Sergeyevich Termen, especially interesting. His travel writing is also compulsively readable.
- Inga Clendinnen passed away this year. (Another casualty of 2016). I loved her work on the Aztecs; David Auerbach writes a wonderful essay about her book on the encounter between the Maya and the Spanish, Ambivalent Conquests.
- Zenpundit is hosting a Thucydides Roundatable. I especially liked T. Greer’s Why I read Thucydides and History is Written by the Losers, but there’s lots of good stuff there.
- On Trump and the politics of Trump, some pieces I found useful throughout the year: Timothy Burke’s Trumpism and Expertise; David Auerbach’s Donald Trump: Moosbrugger for President; Adam Aelkus’ Trump: The Explanation of No Explanation; Gabriel Rossman’s Traitors; and Jacob Levy’s Authoritarianism and Post-Truth Politics.
- Venezuela is collapsing, economically and socially. Nick Casey at the New York Times and Hannah Dreier at the Associated Press are doing fantastic reporting; for political argument and analysis, see Caracas Chronicles.
- Among the non-fiction books I read this year, Stephen Kotkin’s Magnetic Mountain: Stalinism as a Civilization, Charles Kurzmann’s The Unthinkable Revolution in Iran, and Robert Crassweller’s Perón and the Enigmas of Argentina have stayed with me. (I may write about Kotkin’s book soon). Also worth mentioning: Achen and Bartels’ Democracy for Realists and Mary Beard’s SPQR.
Saturday, December 31, 2016
Not much happened on this blog this year, except for two announcements (for my new book and a software package for extending the Unified Democracy Scores); I didn’t even have the usual solstice link post. (Lots of things going on in my offline job; there should be more activity here next year). But there was still a lot of good writing this year worth sharing. In no particular order: