The Way We Were
The best and worst of 2011.

The August riots in England — a 2011 worst


What I’m looking forward to it 2012 is the Supreme Court’s ruling on Obamacare in the spring, which — for better or worse — will significantly and permanently impact political and policy debates.

Carrie L. Lukas is the managing director of the Independent Women’s Forum.


Best Album: American Goldwing by Blitzen Trapper. I didn’t love this album as quickly as I’ve loved other albums by the same band, but it really has grown on me. Good songs. Strong lyrics. Nobody does the Americana-folk-rock thing better.

Worst Album: Anything with the word “Glee” in the title.

— John J. Miller is NR’s national correspondent and the author of The First Assassin, a historical thriller.

Looking back, 2011 was a pretty undistinguished year in which much that was bad got worse. The worst of it is the economy, which continues to hover at the extreme recession point, with high unemployment and a prevailing lack of reason for optimism about the future, including the future of the U.S. in the world and the future of one’s own children. That’s why everything has been 40 percent off since Thanksgiving, you can’t sell your house, and NPR runs unceasing reports of the toll that unemployment takes on physical and mental health. Dreary. And heartbreaking.

The best thing about 2011 — the Arab Spring. To see all of those downtrodden men and women in the Arab world overthrow brutal dictators, then elect men and women of integrity and moderation, who promise rule of law, equal rights for all, peace with Israel and the West, and open economies is inspirational and uplifting. What? Never mind. The best thing about 2011 is that even the Baby Boomer–run media has adopted, as its new conventional wisdom, the belief that the Baby Boomers ruined everything.

The best book I personally read this year was The Late George Apleyby John P. Marquand. It tells all you need to know about how long and hard progressive intellectuals have been working to undermine the American character. More currently, in young-adult fiction — Jennifer Donnelly’s Revolution does two distinct things successfully: It tells an interesting story about overprivileged, miserable kids in an NYC private school, and it works in the (conservative) revisionist view of the French Revolution — that regardless of ideological claims of Liberté, Egalité, and Fraternité, it was really a despotic bloodbath that resulted in much innocent blood spilled, as ideological revolutions so often do. This message runs contrary to everything teens are taught in today’s PC history classes.

The most overrated piece of fiction I read was The Cat’s Table, by Michael Ondaatje, which seemed more like a gathering of wholly autobiographical stuff the aging author hadn’t used, some of which had minor charm at best, but which, with his name and colonial past, would sell to the literati. 


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