The 2011 Person of the Year issue is the product of a year's worth of reporting and thinking. From the beginning of the Arab Spring, we dedicated an abundance of resources to this world-historical story. We also watched as the germ of protest spread to Europe and then America and now Russia. Last month, Kurt Andersen and I took a trip to Egypt and Tunisia to trace this spirit of revolution to its roots. Kurt, one of America's finest essayists and novelists, wrote the sweeping piece that explains the links and the larger meaning among the protests in dozens of countries. We were accompanied on that trip by deputy international editor Bobby Ghosh, Cairo correspondent Abby Hauslohner and reporter Rania Abouzeid, who is based in Lebanon. Bobby, Abby and Rania have spent many months reporting on the Arab Spring, with all their stories coordinated by our stalwart news director, Howard Chua-Eoan. For this issue, TIME contract photographer Peter Hapak and international photo editor Patrick Witty traveled nearly 25,000 miles and photographed protesters from eight countries. The stunning portfolio brings together the faces of Occupy Wall Street and Oakland, Calif.; los indignados of Spain; the young men and women of Egypt, Tunisia and Greece; a crusader against corruption in India; a state-government protester in Wisconsin; and a Tea Party activist in New York City. You can see more of the images on lightbox.time.com.
For our runners-up, London bureau chief Catherine Mayer chatted with Kate Middleton, editor-at-large David Von Drehle caught up with budgetmaster Paul Ryan, and contributor Bart Gellman tracked down Admiral William McRaven, who led the mission that brought down Osama bin Laden. We couldn't think of a better photographer to shoot Ai Weiwei than the artist himself, who also created a piece of art for us symbolizing the year of the protester. Representative Gabby Giffords, whose recovery from a devastating gunshot wound in January is chronicled in her new book, answered questions via e-mail about her remarkable year.
This marvelous issue was edited by executive editor Radhika Jones, who also edited last year's Person of the Year issue. Deputy art director Chrissy Dunleavy is responsible for the issue's elegant design, and graphic artist Shepard Fairey created our striking cover image from a composite of 26 protest images.