The end-of-year lists are trickling out; Christmas must be around the corner. The Economist’s best books of 2021 is well worth a dig.

Three highlights from among many:

“Empire of Pain”, by Patrick Radden Keefe

“This is the tragic, enraging story of the Sackler family, the previously low-profile owners of Purdue Pharma – which in 1996 introduced the drug OxyContin. The author shows how an epidemic of prescription-opioid abuse morphed into a worse one of illicit heroin and, later, fentanyl.”

“We Are Bellingcat”, by Eliot Higgins

“How did a bunch of self-taught internet sleuths help solve some of the biggest crimes of recent years, such as the downing of flight MH17 over Ukraine and the Salisbury poisonings? Bellingcat’s founder chronicles some of the outfit’s investigations, and its efforts to galvanise citizen journalists, expose war crimes and pick apart disinformation. An antidote to cyber-miserabilism.”

“Fallen Idols”, by Alex von Tunzelmann

“Ranging from George III to Saddam Hussein, India to the Dominican Republic, this account of the fates of controversial statues – variously dumped, destroyed, moved and re-erected – offers insights into the times and places they were put up and taken down. Statues simplify history, the author says; what is really educational are the arguments they provoke.”