Contributors to this issue

ANDREW ADONIS is minister for transport

PHILIP BALL is the author of Universe of Stone (Bodley Head)

AARON BANKS is trying to get a job with the Obama administration

PETER BAZALGETTE has an A-level in economics

DAVID BODANIS won the Aventis prize for Electric Universe (Abacus)

JOHN BEDDINGTON is the government’s chief scientific advisor

DEREK BROWER is a journalist who writes on energy politics

TOM CHATFIELD is arts and books editor of Prospect

JAMES CRABTREE is senior editor of Prospect

PHILIP COLLINS is a former speechwriter for Tony Blair. He now writes for the Times

MARK COUSINS ’s collection Widescreen is published by Wallflower Press

THOMAS DE WAAL writes on the Caucasus

SHEREEN EL FEKI is an academic at the American University in Cairo

JONATHAN FORD is deputy editor of Prospect

DAVID GOLDBLATT is the author of The Ball is Round (Penguin)

JULIAN GOUGH is the author of Jude: Level 1 (Old Street Publishing)

AC GRAYLING is the author of Towards the Light (Bloomsbury)

JAMES HARKIN ’sbook Cyburbia (Little, Brown)will be published in February

PHILIP HUNTER is a science writer

RICHARD JENKYNS is professor of the classical tradition at Oxford university

JOHN KAY is an economist

MARTIN KETTLE is a Guardian columnist

MARK KITTO runs a café near Shanghai

SAM LEITH is a freelance writer and editor

TOBY LITT is author of I Play the Drums in a Band Called Okay (Hamish Hamilton)

GEOFF MULGAN is director of the Young Foundation

JONATHAN POWER is the author of Conundrums of Humanity (Brill)

ALEX RENTON is writing a book about the rise of the food industry

ROBERT SKIDELSKY is the author of the biography John Maynard Keynes (Pan)

IAN STEWART is the author of Professor Stewart’s Cabinet of Mathematical Curiosities

TOM STREITHORST works as a cameraman


Coverstory 36Where do we go from here The markets have ruled for a third of a century,but it has all ended in tears.A return to selfish nationalism is possible.If we are to avoid this sombre outcome,we must find ways to rub the rough edges off globalisation,explains Robert Skidelsky


14Sounds good Obama’s often serious rhetoric is all in the delivery. PHILIP COLLINS

15All change It’s time Britain invested in high-tech rail. ANDREW ADONIS

16Mumbai’s bloodied elite The Mumbai attacks hit India’s rich the hardest. They may now take democracy more seriously. JAMES CRABTREE

17Getting our houses in order Loft insulation will do more to combat climate change than stopping flying. JOHN BEDDINGTON

The year in review

22An intellectual surge Who had the biggest intellectual impact on the world in 2008? JAMES CRABTREE

24What’s the big idea? Was 2008 a vintage year for ideas books? JAMES HARKIN

26How should we rate 2008? Which political and cultural events have been most overrated and underrated?


30A political Paul Paul McCartney talks about schooldays, the 1960s, 9/11, FR Leavis and the responsibilities of wealth and celebrity, with an old schoolmate. JONATHAN POWER


42A progressive manifesto The ten commandments have come to be seen as the rantings of a vain and vengeful God. In fact they are an early blueprint for self-government forged by a group of refugees escaping tyranny. DAVID BODANIS

46The art of prize-fighting Modern literary prizes are increasingly flawed and compromised. Yet they can still help to ensure literature’s future as a public art. TOM CHATFIELD

50All cannot have prizes Charles Murray’s latest book attacks the belief that almost anyone can excel academically. But it is largely unconvincing and possibly immoral. GEOFF MULGAN

54Making banks boring again Banks have become casinos attached to utilities. The aim of any regulatory overhaul should be a rigorous separation of the two, with protection only to be extended to retail customers. JOHN KAY

60The classical bazaar Seldom has writing about the classical world been so popular and so good. And instead of trying to draw lessons for today, most of the writers are interested in it for its own sake. RICHARD JENKYNS


68Oil and troubled waters Plagued by piracy, Islamic extremism and civil war, surely it can’t get any worse for Somalia? It might if they find oil in the province of Puntland. DEREK BROWER

4 Prospect JANUARY 2009