The Last Patrol

In September 2009, the second platoon of Charlie Company arrived in Afghanistan with 42 men. Ten months later, nearly half had been killed or wounded, mostly in the Arghandab Valley—a key to controlling southern Afghanistan. Now these 82nd Airborne troops were getting ready to leave the Arghandab behind. They had one more dangerous job to do: a joint mission with the untried artillery unit that would replace them patrolling the fields, orchards, and villages they called the Devil’s Playground.

Gaza’s Surfer Girls

Riding the waves and testing Hamas’s limits

Don’t Shoot the Bear

Whale pizzas and polar bears: A man on a mission at the Arctic Circle

Dark Tourism

Cambodia tries to turn its bloody history into a sightseeing boom.

All War Is Local

For one close-knit National Guard Unit from Arkansas, Afghanistan hits home.

French Connections

Gallic ingenuity has turned failing farms and rundown châteaux into hidden tourist gems.

Almost Noble

Tony Blair’s memoir reveals him to be neither a cynic nor an innocent, but a man of some principle.

On Bolivia’s Coca Trail

High anxiety amid giant Tree Ferns and landslides in Bolivia’s little-traveled—and dazzling—Carrasco National Park

Flogging Genghis Khan

Mongolia revives its strongman. Will the hordes follow?

Japan Surrenders

The author returns to his old Tokyo neighborhood and finds an inward-looking country that has lost its ambition.

The Point of No Return

For the Obama administration, the prospect of a nuclearized Iran is dismal to contemplate— it would create major new national-security challenges and crush the president’s dream of ending nuclear proliferation. But the view from Jerusalem is still more dire: a nuclearized Iran represents, among other things, a threat to Israel’s very existence. In the gap between Washington’s and Jerusalem’s views of Iran lies the question: who, if anyone, will stop Iran before it goes nuclear, and how? As Washington and Jerusalem study each other intensely, here’s an inside look at the strategic calculations on both sides—and at how, if things remain on the current course, an Israeli air strike will unfold.

Nuclear Options

Whale Crossing

As shipping traffic booms, scientists scramble to protect the right whale from extinction.

Living With a Nuclear Iran

Iran can be contained. The path to follow? A course laid out half a century ago by a young Henry Kissinger, who argued that American chances of checking revolutionary powers such as the Soviet Union depended on our credible willingness to engage them in limited war.

Rent a White Guy

Confessions of a fake businessman from Beijing

The Vigilante

Italy’s Northern League party exploits a brutal crime for a dubious law.

The Case for Calling Them Nitwits

They blow each other up by mistake. They bungle even simple schemes. They get intimate with cows and donkeys. Our terrorist enemies trade on the perception that they’re well trained and religiously devout, but in fact, many are fools and perverts who are far less organized and sophisticated than we imagine. Can being more realistic about who our foes actually are help us stop the truly dangerous ones?

The Politically Incorrect Guide to Ending Poverty

In the 1990s, Paul Romer revolutionized economics. In the aughts, he became rich as a software entrepreneur. Now he’s trying to help the poorest countries grow rich—by convincing them to establish foreign-run “charter cities” within their borders. Romer’s idea is unconventional, even neo-colonial—the best analogy is Britain’s historic lease of Hong Kong. And against all odds, he just might make it happen.

Hex Appeal

Witches are overwhelming the courts in the Central African Republic. And that may be a good thing.

Board Games

The gruff, boastful art of claiming Indonesia’s surf as your own

Guitar Heroes

Can a battle of the bands help end a brutal insurgency in India?

The Next Empire

All across Africa, new tracks are being laid, highways built,ports deepened, commercial contracts signed—all on an unprecedented scale, and led by China, whose appetite for commodities seems insatiable. Do China’s grand designs promise the transformation,at last, of a star-crossed continent? Or merely its exploitation? The author travels deep into the heart of Africa, searching for answers.

A Space Oddity

How an Afghan pilot became a cosmonaut—and a fugitive

Rum and Hope

Haiti’s famed Barbancourt rum factory has survived by taking self-sufficiency to an extreme.

Lost in the Levant

Kai Bird’s affecting personal history of the Arab-Israeli tangle


Where Time Comes From

The clocks that coordinate your cellphone, GPS, and more


Computer Vision Syndrome and You

Save your eyes. Take breaks.


What Happens in 60 Seconds

Quantifying human activity around the world



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