The late Tony Judt was a historian of undeniable talent, even if I personally find his political positions slightly problematic. His book Postwar, a history of Europe after the Second World War, is considered one of the finest volumes of the past decade.
As he was dying of ALS, colloquially known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, he composed a final essay, a pleading for sanity in insane times called What is Living and What is Dead in Social Democracy?, which was later expanded into a book called Ill Fares the Land. In it, he makes a concise and mature estimation of the history of the Keynesian welfare state, how the rise of neoclassical economics under the auspices of neoconservative or neoliberal governments has perverted our notions of civic morality, and what can be done to resuscitate a society based around these ideas. Even if one disagrees with his embrace of anti-radical social democratic politics, it is a vital primer on the meaning of our social decay and how we got here.