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CONTENTS Features

Black people made homeless by major floods in 1927 crowd a rescue barge in Mississippi. This issue, we explore how the song ‘Ol’ Man River’ – first performed that year – was adapted to highlight tensions in the US and, later, other nations

18 THE BIG QUESTION

Are we returning to an era of political extremes? J

As populist politicians come to power around the world – most recently in Brazil – we ask a panel of seven leading experts to assess whether we are witnessing the dawn of a new era of extremism 36 Africa’s medieval golden age J

BY FRANÇOIS-XAVIER FAUVELLE The continent’s middle ages have often been painted as a dark era without history. Nothing could be further from the truth

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44 Can history help solve today’s economic problems? J

BY LINDA YUEH Pressing present-day conundrums, tackled by eight great minds of the past 52 The age of noodles J

BY CELIA HATTON How a simple snack created in hungry postwar Japan fuelled the rise of the east 60 ‘Ol’ Man River’ keeps flowing J

BY MARK BURMAN The global legacy of the 1920s musicaltheatre hit, from showtune to protest song

J On the cover

COVER ILLUSTRATION BY DAVIDE BONAZZI

A L A M Y

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