Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

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A talent for politics? Academics, failure, and emotion

Sometimes a fragment of a book manages to lodge itself in the back of your mind. An idea, a description, a phrase…just something, and often completely unrelated to the core story, attaches itself to your mind like an intellectual itch you can’t quite scratch.

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Rio 2016: evidence of greatness or a bid for recognition?

The eve of the opening ceremonies of the Rio de Janeiro Olympics is a good time to reflect not only on Brazil’s role as the organizer the games, but whether the experience of the host country tells us anything about the status of the BRICS–one of the most important economic groupings in the world, and one which you may never have heard of. As nations much showcased since 2001 as big, dynamic, rising countries, much of their global projection has focused as much on spectacle as on substantive achievements.

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Japanese elections: constitutional revision and the anxiety of free speech

While the high drama of the Brexit vote and the US presidential election has grabbed international headlines, Japan has also completed an election that may have far-reaching implications. In the elections for the Upper House of the Diet (Japan’s parliament) on July 10, the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and its coalition partners won 162 seats.

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Alexander Hamilton and the public debt

have not yet seen Lin-Manuel Miranda’s hit Broadway show Hamilton. I feel badly about this for three reasons. First, Miranda is a 2002 Wesleyan graduate, a loyal and generous alumnus who gave a great commencement speech in 2015 and remains solidly committed to the university. Second, the music and lyrics are, quite simply, amazing. Third, as an economic historian, it is heartening to see one of America’s economic heroes make it to Broadway.

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Elie Wiesel: the Hillel of our time

I first met Elie Wiesel in the summer of 1965. Wiesel’s book Night had been translated into English five years earlier. Night was just beginning to be recognized in English-speaking countries. Wiesel was not yet then the impressive speaker he was soon to become. As he addressed the audience that summer about the horrors of the Holocaust, Wiesel was diffident to the point of shyness.

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How the Iraq Inquiry failed to follow the money

In 2007, I published an article that sought to show in detail how the Iraqi economy had been opened up to allow the transformation of the economy and the routine corruption that enabled a range of private profit-making companies to exploit the post-invasion economy. The article argued that the illegal war of aggression waged by a ‘coalition’ headed by George Bush and Tony Blair was tied to a series of subsequent crimes of pillage and occupation.

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How much do you know about Milton Friedman? [quiz]

Milton Friedman is regarded as one of the most prominent economists of the twentieth century, contributing to both economic theory and policy. 31st July is his birthday, and this year marks 10 years since his death, and 40 years since he won the Nobel Prize for Economics for his contributions to consumption analysis and to monetary theory and history.

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This year’s other elections

The primaries, the conventions, and the media have focused so much attention on the presidential candidates that it’s sometime easy to forget all the other federal elections being held this year, for 34 seats in the Senate and 435 in the House (plus five nonvoting delegates). The next president’s chances of success will depend largely on the congressional majorities this election will produce.

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How India can motivate Pakistan to prevent cross-border terrorism

As the new year dawned on 1 January 2016, six heavily-armed men crossed through a marshy section of the Punjab border from Pakistan into India. Disguised in Indian Army fatigues, they commandeered first a taxi, then a small SUV, eventually covering the approximately 35km to reach the Air Force base at Pathankot.

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Beyond Brexit panic: an American perspective

By now, the early Brexit panic based on assumptions of catastrophe, disaster, and apocalypse, is giving way to more positive attitudes in the science fields. Yes, there are changes coming, sometimes painful, but there are also opportunities for new partnerships, fresh collaborations, and bolder directions. I was on a month-long visit to the United Kingdom when the Brexit vote took place

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How long was my century?

In 2002 I faced a dilemma relating to an editorial project that perhaps only another historian can appreciate. Scrambling to complete the Introduction to Twentieth-Century China: New Approaches, I had to figure out how long to say the eponymous period had lasted.

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Colombia: the embattled road to peace

Is absolute peace throughout a nation ever truly attainable and sustainable? Can a country ever unite as one entity in the face of extreme opposing views and ideals throughout the land, its people unable to achieve the plurality of a single bilateral, collective human interest legislative mandate?

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The evolution of international criminal justice

In commemoration of International Criminal Justice Day, it is worth pausing to reflect on the evolution and impact of the field in just two decades. Of course the history goes back much further, and it remains painstakingly challenging to realize in many contexts, but it is without question that accountability is now a key feature of the global response to atrocity.

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