Choosing the best of anything is a precarious adventure, but after taking a survey of everything the New Republic published in 2015, it’s especially difficult to define the best amid so many different kinds of journalism and criticism: breaking news, thoughtful essays, rapid-response commentary, deeply reported investigations, cultural reviews, podcasts, poetry, photo essays, and data projects. The following list is hardly comprehensive of our best, but it does capture what we think will be some of the most timeless work from our past year. Spanning a range of topics, dates, and places, these pieces captured a moment and took a stand. As the year closes, we collected them in a single e-book so that you can easily peruse them in this season of long travel days and shiny new reading gadgets. Enjoy! And thank you for reading along.

Download New Republic: Best of 2015 as a free e-book [epub] 

Why Women Can’t Break Free From the Parent Trap 

By Rebecca Traister February

Alice Proujansky

“Pregnancy and immediate postpartum life itself plays a serious role in slowing professional momentum for women for whom the simple—and celebrated—act of having a baby turns out to be a stunningly precarious economic and professional choice.”

The New Republic’s Legacy on Race 

By Jeet Heer February

Pixland/Getty Images Plus

Considering that the New Republic was the gateway for many distinguished careers at publications like The New York Times, The New Yorker, and The Atlantic, the magazine can be seen as not just reflecting the media’s diversity problem, but actively contributing to it.”

Phantom of the Orchestra 

By Christopher Beam March/April

Jérémie Souteyrat

“‘I’m human filth,’ he wrote. ‘I have betrayed you to an extent I can never fully repay. I offer my deepest apologies.’ The Samuragochi story was, it turned out, a lie. Within days, nearly every detail of the deaf composer genius narrative would be called into question.”

Fear of a Radical Pope 

By Elizabeth Bruenig | March/April

Steve Brodner

There have always been grumblings about popes, but the differences in opinion between Francis and the movement collectively known as the ‘American right’ appear especially numerous, and unusually bitter.”

‘Do You Understand That Your Baby Goes Away and Never Comes Back?’ 

By Kathryn Joyce | May

Andrea Morales

“Almost as soon as Maryann gave birth, something seemed amiss. First, there was the rush surrounding the signing of the papers dropped off by the mysterious woman—papers that were written in English, which Maryann couldn’t read.”

The Ghost of Cornel West 

By Michael Eric Dyson | May

HelloVon

West believed himself personally betrayed by Obama because of his (supposed) disinterest after the election. It is a sad truth that most politicians are serial rhetorical lovers and promiscuous ideological mates, leaving behind scores of briefly valued surrogates and supporters. West should have understood that Obama had had similar trysts with many others. But West felt spurned and was embittered.”

Future Queer 

By Alexander Chee July/August

Neil Gilks

For many Americans, marriage equality represents a capstone ‘here at last’ moment for gay people, but it really is more of a beginning.”

At War in the Garden of Eden 

By Jen Percy | September/October

Erin Trieb

ISIS has targeted the Yazidis, Assyrian Christians, and the region’s other minority groups for persecution. Each faith is fighting over the same questions they were fighting over when their theologies developed, which is really the question of which culture will be dominant, whose God, or whose version of God, will be the better God. This fight has meaning not only here but around the world, and its battlegrounds inexorably draw the faithful to its violence.”

Corn Wars 

By Ted Genoways September/October

Brian Stauffer

“The U.S. Department of Justice and the FBI now contend, in effect, that the theft of genetically modified corn technology is as credible a threat to national security as the spread to nation-states of the technology necessary to deliver and detonate nuclear warheads. Disturbingly, they may be right.” 

First, Let’s Get Rid of All the Bosses 

By Roger D. Hodge | November

Gregg Segal

What was ‘Teal,’ and why was it better than being ‘Green’? And what did it mean for an online retailer with annual sales of more than $1 billion, that fills 280,000 orders per week, to be ‘self-organized’? These were open questions, and no one at Zappos, including Hsieh, claimed to have the answers. But Hsieh had forcefully positioned himself at the vanguard of a growing movement that hopes to bring about the end of corporate management as we know it.” 

Why I Live Where I Live 

By Vivian Gornick | November

©Paolo Pellegrin / Magnum Photo

The promise of narrative that flashes repeatedly out of the mass of swiftly moving figures—always leaving in its wake scraps of conversation, profiles of dramatic beauty, gestures of humor and despair—that, again and again, restores me not necessarily to meaning but to an affection for life that fills me—stomach, arms, chest, and brain—with peace and joy and the longing to dive.”