17 December 2022

The best book I read in 2022

Filed under: books — Tags: , , — David Wood @ 12:55 pm

I’ve checked the records I’ve created over the year in Goodreads. I see that, out of the books I read all the way through in 2022, I was inspired to give sixteen the maximum Goodreads rating of five stars out of five.

(Actually mainly I listened to these books, as audio books, rather than read them.)

You can see their covers in the following image.

(Click on the image to enlarge it, to view the individual book covers more clearly.)

Each of these books gave me plenty to think about. I’m grateful in every case for the effort and inspiration of the authors.

But one of these books stands out as being even more impressive and impactful than all the others.

It’s The Revenge of Power, by Moisés Naím.

Here are some extracts from the Wikipedia page of the author:

Moisés Naím (born July 5, 1952, in Tripoli, Libya) is a Venezuelan journalist and writer. He is a Distinguished Fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. In 2013, the British magazine Prospect listed Naím as one of the world’s leading thinkers. In 2014 and 2015, Dr. Naím was ranked among the top 100 influential global thought leaders by Gottlieb Duttweiler Institute (GDI).

He is the former Minister of Trade and Industry for Venezuela, Director of its Central bank, and Executive Director of the World Bank.

Naím studied at the Universidad Metropolitana in Caracas, Venezuela. Following his undergraduate studies, he attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he obtained both a master of science and doctorate degrees.

Naím was a professor of business strategy and industrial economics at Instituto de Estudios Superiores de Administración (IESA), Venezuela’s leading business school and research center located in Caracas. He also served as its Dean between 1979 and 1986.

Naím served as the editor-in-chief of Foreign Policy magazine for 14 years (1996-2010). Since 2012, he has directed and hosted Efecto Naím, a weekly televised news program on the economy and international affairs that airs throughout the Americas on NTN24. In 2011, he received the Ortega y Gasset Prize for his important contribution to journalism in the Spanish language.

Naím ably deploys that rich experience and expertise in the writing of his new book.

The book’s full title is “The Revenge of Power: The Global Assault on Democracy and How to Defeat It”.

Here are the reasons why the book particularly stands out for me, and why I believe you should read it too:

  • The subject has fundamental global importance. All our aspirations in other areas of life – health, education, sport, travel, technology, art – are subject to destruction if politics falls further into the hands of autocrats
  • Every single chapter was eye-opening, introducing important new material
  • The analysis covers threats from both the right and the left, and is full of captivating details about politics in numerous countries around the world
  • The book draws together its various ideas into a coherent overarching framework – the “three P’s” of populism, polarization and post-truth (you might think at first, like I did, that this sounds a bit trite; but be prepared to change your mind)
  • It clarifies what is different, today, compared to the threats posed by autocrats of previous generations
  • It also clarifies how new technological possibilities – compared to the newspapers and radio and TV of the past – pose further challenges to the maintenance of democracy
  • It vividly explains the concept of “status dissonance” that is one of several factors causing electorates to look favourably at potential autocrats
  • It provides a stirring defence of the principles of the separation of powers, and the maintenance of checks and balances.

Many parts of the book are truly frightening. This is not some abstract issue, nor some far-future concern. As the book highlights, it’s a live here-and-now issue. I confess that several episodes it covered left me hopping mad.

Finally, it has specific recommendations on what needs to be done, to ward off the threats posed to the wellbeing of politics around the world. These recommendations are “five battles we need to win” – against falsehoods, criminalized governments, foreign subversion, political cartels and narratives of illiberalism.

None of these battles will be easy. But they’re all winnable, with sufficient effort, intelligence, and collaboration.

Blog at WordPress.com.