5 Top Reads

Our Top Weekend Reads

Why partition may be the only solution to Lebanon’s woes, what the bestselling book “Caste” ignores about India’s caste structure, and Britain’s distraction from its real economic problems.

A demonstrator holding a Lebanese flag
A demonstrator holding a Lebanese flag with black stripes stands on the monument at Martyr's Square in Beirut during an anti-government demonstration on Sept. 1. -/AFP via Getty Images

Lebanon has faced a century of corruption, foreign occupation, and civil war. Now, as Hezbollah’s dominance has deprived non-Shiite Lebanese of basic political freedoms, a new form of government may be the only path forward.

Meanwhile, Isabel Wilkerson’s new bestselling book, Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents, deftly analyzes race in the United States, but it fails to address the ongoing horrors of India’s caste system.

And in Tanzania and elsewhere, the pandemic and rising authoritarianism have made for strange—yet increasingly close—bedfellows.

Here are Foreign Policy’s top weekend reads.


A noose and gallows hang from the monument at Martyrs’ Square.

A noose and gallows hang from the monument at Martyrs’ Square in Beirut on Aug. 9. Lebanon’s political elite faced pressure from all sides after a deadly explosion was blamed on official negligence. JOSEPH EID/AFP via Getty Images

1. Partition Is the Only Solution to Lebanon’s Woes

A century is a very long time for a failed experiment in nation-building. Now, as Lebanon teeters on the brink of collapse, partition may be the only way to avoid the repeated mistakes that have defined the country since 1920, Joseph A. Kéchichian writes. 


Lydia Ortiz illustration for Foreign Policy

2. Feeling Like an Outcast

Isabel Wilkerson’s new bestselling book, Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents, deftly uses caste structure to analyze the racial hierarchies ingrained in the United States. Yet Wilkerson fails to adequately address the ongoing horrors of the caste system in India, Yashica Dutt writes.


A commuter crosses a road by London Bridge in London on Sept. 15.

A commuter crosses a road by London Bridge in London on Sept. 15. Justin Tallis/AFP/Getty Images

3. Brexit Is a Distraction from the United Kingdom’s Real Economic Woes

For some, the turmoil of Brexit is just another chapter in the saga of Britain’s retreat from the global economic stage. But decline is not inevitable—even though its reversal will require rewiring Britain’s economy for the long term, Tej Parikh writes.


Harvard Yard

A view of Harvard Yard on the campus of Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on July 8.Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

4. If You Want to Keep Talent Out of China, Invest at Home

China’s efforts to recruit scientists and other top academics have only expanded and grown more sophisticated in recent years. If U.S. policymakers want to retain the United States’ best and brightest scientists, they must create more opportunities for them at home, Ryan Fedasiuk writes.


A supporter of Tanzania’s ruling party holds a sign during the official launch of its official campaign for the October general election in Dodoma, Tanzania, on Aug. 29.

A supporter of Tanzania’s ruling party holds a sign during the launch of its official campaign for the October general election in Dodoma, Tanzania, on Aug. 29. Ericky Boniphace/AFP/Getty Images

5. Will COVID-19 Kill Democracy?

In Tanzania, the pandemic is meeting rising authoritarianism, making both problems far worse. But Tanzania is not the only country where the pandemic has collided with a government tightening its authoritarian grip, Travis L. Adkins and Jeffrey Smith write.

Chloe Hadavas is an editorial fellow at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @Hadavas

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