The Glory and the Folly
Campaign 2008 has stirred old discontents about politics. What’s wrong with American democracy? Is the problem ill-informed voters who are buffaloed by attack ads and political ephemera, or is it that elections don’t give adequate voice to the popular will? Or does a long view reveal that the American system works pretty well after all?
The Irrational Electorate
A Princeton political scientist reveals that many of our worst fears about America’s voters are true.
More Stories From This Issue
An Admirable Folly
From afar, America’s presidential contests often look more like playground antics than a shining example of democracy. But looks can be deceiving.
“Pollsters and pundits” has become a dismissive epithet in modern politics. Pollsters, at least, deserve much better.
Bury the Hatchet
The antidote to frenzied partisanship won’t be found in politics as usual but in problem-solving leaders who govern from the center.
In a digital era, can the Oxford English Dictionary stay a cultural cornerstone?
For more than a century, the Oxford English Dictionary has dominated language lovers’ bookshelves. Now it is online, and a new edition may never see book covers again. In the digital age, will the OED remain a cultural cornerstone?
The Big Thaw
Global warming is shrinking Greenland’s ice sheet—and heating up its movement for independence from Denmark.
Crime's New Address
Memphis demolished inner-city projects and transferred residents into better neighborhoods, but only succeeded in spreading crime to the new areas.
Bogged Down Again
What do post–Civil War Reconstruction and U.S. nation-building efforts in the Philippines, Cuba, Haiti, Somalia, Kosovo, and Afghanistan have in common?
And by the Way...
The new American president will have plenty on his plate, especially in the Southern hemisphere.
The new U.S. embassy in Iraq is a fortress covering 104 acres, but building bunkers may not be the best model to follow.
The Long Tail Tale
Many online merchants have looked for profits in the "long tail"—the niche markets—but an economist questions whether the numbers add up.
The Graying of Kindergarten
To give children advantages in emotional, academic, or athletic performance, parents are starting their kids in school later. Two experts think the practice intensifies inequality in American life.
Beating the Market
Even before the recent meltdown, the stock market was hard to read. A market strategist explains why.
Pouring academic publications online has not meant that researchers can find them. There's too much out there, and it's too poorly indexed.
America has been dealing with energy crises for a long time. Like the one in the winter of 1637...
The German cities of Lübeck and Hamburg took different approaches to outside trade; one faded into insignificance, while the other became Europe's third most important trading center.
A Habsburg Plan for Brussels
The Brussels-based leaders of the European Union might take a page from the Habsburg playbook in dealing with the problems of unifying its varied countries under one banner.
William F. Buckley Jr. opposed every milestone achievement of the civil rights movement, but he was no bigot.
Will Evangelicals Hail Mary?
Mary, the mother of Jesus, has long been revered by Catholics, but now evangelical Christians are increasingly drawn to her.
The Arrow of Time
Does time run backward in other universes? It would match the symmetry of many other aspects of our physics.
What Is 'Natural'?
A lesson in the ongoing struggle between man and nature, courtesy of Hawaii's gray bird grasshopper.
What's American About American Art?
John Updike's ruminations about American artists and their need to "confront the viewer with something vitally actual, beyond illusion."
Paris's New Look
Like most cities, Paris's architecture is changing constantly, but there is a growing tension between the low-profile, older buildings in the city's center and the higher-rise denser construction on the périph.
Evidence of ongoing destruction of Iraq's most celebrated archaeological sites is as illusory as WMDs.
The Battle of the Caspian Sea
Who gets what share of the mineral riches at the bottom of the Caspian depend on whether it's a sea or a lake.
Banning part-time child labor in countries such as the Philippines may have a perverse and unforeseen effect—forcing parents to pull the children out of schools.
India's Sick Democracy
India's parliamentary system is in a shambles, and may only get fixed when the country's small parties put enough pressure on the two dominant one.
The Great African Hope
G. Pascal Zachary on Rwandan president Paul Kagame, whose rule "provides the clearest test case in Africa of whether an enlightened authoritarianism can produce better results than liberal democracy."
Married to the Muse
Kate Christensen looks at the wives of three famous French artists, and how their lives, "no matter how difficult, painful, or uncertain, were never boring."
Poverty of the Imagination
James McGrath Morris reviews a chronicle of Jacob Riis's rise from poor immigrant to famous muckraker.
America on the Couch
Charles Barber finds American Therapy "thoroughly researched and elegantly organized," but says it does not quite capture the "fascinating dialectic" between "our exterior and interior landscapes."
Mind and Matter
In Concrete Reveries, writes reviewer Geoff Manaugh, philosopher Mark Kingwell offers only a glimpse of what makes him "an original thinker with provocative ideas."
Bulletins from Immortality
Reviewer Stephanie E. Schlaifer looks at Brenda Wineapple's account of the quarter-century relationship between poet Emily Dickinson and political activist Thomas Wentworth Higginson.
Victims of War
Hew Strachan on Targeting Civilians in War: "Desperation drives even democracies to target civilians in order to coerce the enemy to surrender."
Labors of Love
What makes people volunteer to help others? Reviewer Darcy Courteau tries to find some answers in a study by two sociologists.
eviewer Remuka Rayasam finds Anita Jain "more interested in stringing together amusing anecdotes than in making a sincere attempt at cross-cultural understanding" in her account of her hunt for a suitable husband.
Writing about Daniel Gardner's The Science of Fear, Evelin Sullivan concludes that "for the sake of our survival, one fear ought to become stronger: that of being afraid of the wrong things."
Einstein, Relatively Speaking
Hans C. Ohanian's analysis of Einstein's works, "reveals himself to be the kind of strictly logical, step-by-step physicist that Einstein plainly was not, and Ohanian's inability to cope with that difference almost seems to have turned into a personal animosity."
Saints and Sinners
T. R. Reid reviews a "warts-and-all history of the Mountain Meadows Massacre, one of the darkest moments in the 180-year history of the Mormon Church."