The Deadline, a collection of 46 essays that the Harvard historian and New Yorker staff writer Jill Lepore has written over the last 20 years, is an absorbing history of the 21st century so far. From “The American Beast,” which analyzes the main findings of the January 6th Commission report, to “Valley of the Dolls,” on the copyright battle between Bratz dolls and Barbie, Lepore deftly draws connections between moments past and present. While her specialty is providing historical context to current events, she is also not afraid to get personal. In the powerful titular essay, she writes about having a miscarriage and a late best friend who was by her side. Lepore explained the role she believes historians have to play in an interview with TIME earlier this year: “We have an obligation to try to make sense of the relationship between today and yesterday.” —Olivia B. Waxman

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