In the waning years of the first African-American president’s time in office, a young black male can be gunned down by police with impunity and a young Hispanic girl can grow up in a neighborhood with limited educational horizons. As the wars in the Middle East draw to a close for American troops, veterans struggle to find work and housing and gun violence follows them back to their communities. In 2015, it often felt like progress was tempered by setbacks, so it’s important to look to journalists to provide the nuanced understanding of events, to historians to give them historical weight and to novelists and poets to distill their meaning. Our essential reading from this year:
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