The Best Reads of 2014

Throughout the year, we search the web for the best reads on global affairs. Here are our 10 favourites from 2014.
By: /
December 22, 2014

Every week, we serve up the best reads on international affairs from around the web in our Readings section and on social media with the hashtag #CICReads. Here are our 10 favourites from 2014.

Yakzan Shishakly, a Syrian-American, went to Syria with the best intentions. And as the unofficial manager of the Atmeh refugee camp, he did a lot of good. But in Atmeh, much like Syria as whole, even the best intentions can backfire. By Joshua Hersh for the Virginia Quarterly Review.

Matthieu Aikins spends seven days with Syria’s first responders – the people who care for the civilians caught on the front lines of the war in Aleppo: "What they were best known for – what they had become famous for in Syria and abroad – were the dramatic rescues, the lives they pulled from under the rubble." For Matter.

Overthrowing a dictator is one thing. Building a cohesive, peaceful society after the fact is quite another. Just look at Iraq, Libya, or Egypt. "What is the glue that is meant to hold these new post-revolutionary states together?" asks Patrick Cockburn for the London Review of Books.

Approximately 2.5 billion people lack basic sanitation. Of those, an estimated 1.1 billion defecate in the bush, contaminating drinking water and food. What is the solution? The Gates Foundation is betting on a new kind of cutting-edge toilet. But will it pan out? By Jeremy Keehn for The Walrus.

Things have improved enormously for women in Afghanistan compared to life under the Taliban. But what will happen when Western troops leave the country? Already, there are signs of progress slipping away. By Christina Lamb for The Wilson Quarterly.

In the abstract, we tend to think the bigger the number, the better the economy. But the more you dig into where that number comes from, the more slippery it becomes, entirely failing "to capture the complex trade-offs between present and future, work and leisure, 'good' growth and 'bad' growth." By David Pilling for Financial Times.

The "explosive" (and very detailed) story of the failed peace negotiations between Israel and Palestine instigated by John Kerry: "We seem to have reached the end of an era in the peace process. And no one harbors much hope for what comes next." By Ben Birnbaum and Amir Tibon for the New Republic.

"Trade, Not Aid" has become a popular slogan in development, but more foreign investment doesn't necessarily mean more development. "Many African governments are offering increasingly lucrative terms to attract foreign investment. But will the cost of these incentives outweigh the benefits to Africans?" By Christiane Badgley for Foreign Policy.

Barrick Gold's decision to put the mine at Pascua-Lama on hold – 20 years after it first started planning it – marks the end of an era for the company, halting its global expansion. How did the project go so wrong for the company? By Stephanie Nolen for Report on Business.

From the Kenema Government Hospital in Sierra Leone to the Broad Institute at M.I.T., a recounting of the international fight to contain the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. By Richard Preston for The New Yorker.