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Essay/Education
An unlikely triumph

In its first century the American higher-education system was a messy, disorganised joke. How did it rise to world dominance?

David Labaree

Essay/War & Conflict
The battlefield is dead

The traditional arena of war is no more. Will it give way to a perpetual continuum of military and paramilitary violence?

Antoine Bousquet

Essay/History
The last sacred kings

The veneration which surrounds the world’s last sacred kings shows how secular most of political life has become

Alan Strathern

Essay/History
Spoiling for a fight

Short of a battlefield, the most violent place in medieval England was Oxford. Why did Brits stop beating each other up?

Jim Sharpe

Essay/History
Les Anglo-Saxons

Not just American or British, the Anglo-Saxon is a mirror to Frenchness: the country’s alter-ego and most feared enemy

Emile Chabal

Essay/History
The Irish diaspora

There are 70 million people around the world who claim Irish ancestry. What shaped and made the great Irish emigration?

Kevin Kenny

Essay/Cities
Return of the city-state

Nation-states came late to history, and there’s plenty of evidence to suggest they won’t make it to the end of the century

Jamie Bartlett

Essay/Stories & Literature
Mata Hari uncovered

Dancer, courtesan, spy: on the centenary of her execution, how much do we really know about the woman behind the legend?

Julie Wheelwright

Essay/History
Ideas were not enough

Locke, Spinoza and Voltaire were all brilliant, but religious freedom in Europe was driven by statecraft not philosophy

Mark Koyama

Essay/History
Agony in the agora

Democracy, by nature, is a contest between clashing political desires. That is why the public square matters so much

Saul Frampton

Essay/Beauty & Aesthetics
The sea was never blue

The Greek colour experience was made of movement and shimmer. Can we ever glimpse what they saw when gazing out to sea?

Maria Michela Sassi

Essay/History
America’s hidden philosophy

When Cold War philosophy tied rational choice theory to scientific method, it embedded the free-market mindset in US society

John McCumber

Essay/History
‘Here we are all the same’

The US Constitution guaranteed freedom of religion, but the fight for religious equality was only just beginning

Richard D Brown