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The 59steps Retrospective of 2017: Introduction

December 31, 2017

Another year over, but how to mark its passing? Like so many other writers, I usually post some thoughts on the catastrophes, triumphs and lessons learned in the previous twelve months, as well as a few pious hopes for the year to come.

But this year – the year of Trump, May, ISIS, bombs, storms, elections and fake news – deserves special treatment. So I’ve decided to compile a 59steps retrospective. Bits of stuff I’ve written on various subjects organised into themes. It would be grossly Trump-like to describe them as The Best of 59steps, because that presupposes that they’re all good in the first place. But I do think that some of the stuff I wrote deserves a recap in light of what followed.

The idea came to me through reading everything I wrote this year. The exercise served to remind me – as if I really needed reminding – what an extraordinary year we’ve just been through. And I wrote lots about it. A hundred-odd posts and at least 150,000 words, enough for one of those books you buy that you never quite get to finish because you lose the will to live at Page 376.

Quite a lot of stuff, and not so easy to reduce to a few pithy words to describe my main preoccupations: American politics, and inevitably Donald Trump; British politics, with our Brexit struggles and floundering governance; the Middle East, and especially the efforts of Saudi Arabia to transform itself; cyberpolitics and the social media; thoughts on places I visited; and finally an “any other” bin which includes a mix of history, social commentary and other stuff from my personal experience.

Some of the subjects overlap. I find it hard to write about Trump, for example, without making reference to parallels where they exist in other parts of the world. So if you’re patient enough to read the next few posts, don’t be surprised if I stray off subject from time to time.

I make no apology for the fact that some of these posts will be quite long reads. It’s been a long year, full of interesting events and worrying trends. Not all negative, but anyone from my neck of the woods who thinks that the world today is a safer, more settled place than it was 365 days ago must be naïve, senile or barking mad.

With that thought, I wish you a happy, safe and fulfilling New Year!

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