September 2004

Alan Cullison, "Inside Al-Qaeda's Hard Drive"; Eric Alterman, "The Hollywood Campaign"; Paul Elie, "In Search of a Pope"; James Warren, "More Nixon Tapes"; Tom Carson, "Policy Wank"; Ryan Lizza, "The Natural"; Alexandra Starr, "Dixie Chicks"; P. J. O'Rourke, "Adult-Male-Elephant Diplomacy"; fiction by Christopher Buckley; and much more.

The Atlantic - September 2004

Also in this issue

Letters to the editor

Other articles in this issue

Tips for the Traveling Terrorist

Letters From a Young Martyr

The Message in the Budget

The alternative minimum tax is a nuisance, but the Bush administration is relying on it to balance the budget.


Peaceable Kingdom

[with audio]


Inside Al-Qaeda’s Hard Drive

Budget squabbles, baby pictures, office rivalries—and the path to 9/11

The Hollywood Campaign

Want big money to get elected to national office? If you're a Democrat, you need to head for the hills—Beverly Hills.

In Search of a Pope

Media commentators love to speculate about the power politics of the next conclave. They keep forgetting about the most important factor of all

More Nixon Tapes

Fresh talk about the Irish, the Africans, the Ivy League, and Chairman "Mayo." A selection from recently released recordings in the National Archives.

Florence of Arabia

How one woman (plus a disgraced Green Beret, a shameless PR lackey, and the wife of a sheikh) brought the Middle East to the brink of female emancipation. A short story
Interviews: Christopher Buckley, the author of Florence of Arabia, talks about women's lib, exploding camels, and the making of the modern Middle East


The Stakes in 2004

The coming presidential election may be the most important in generations

The Natural

Why is Barack Obama generating more excitement among Democrats than John Kerry?

Dixie Chicks

A new kind of Democrat is emerging in the South—and she's no shrinking violet

Ayatollah Democracy

Arrogant, dogmatic, and anti-American, Iraq's Shiite clerics are the last people enlightened Westerners want to see in power. Let's hope they prevail

Adult-Male-Elephant Diplomacy

Colin Powell talks about Iraq, the Cold War, his place in the Administration, and chilling "the ambitions of the evil"
Interviews: Colin Powell and P. J. O'Rourke discuss foreign policy, Volvos, Elvis, and more. The full transcript of an interview from the September 2004 Atlantic

Primary Sources

The U.S. prison system as a terrorist university; why the suburbs make you fat; the "happiness-maximizing" number of sex partners


Wolves, Actors, Jihadis

Vicious, by Jon Coleman; Who the Hell's in It, by Peter Bogdanovich; Imperial Hubris, by Anonymous; Heloise & Abelard, by James Burge

Policy Wank

Bill Clinton's sodden memoir goes into all the wrong detail

Mother of All Mothers

The leadership secrets of Kim Jong Il

Mirror, Mirror

Astonishing memoirs by (and about) deeply repellent people

The Immortal

A new biography reaches the heart of the labyrinth—the intense and wondrous life of Jorge Luis Borges


Witless Protection

Coping with the sixteenth minute

“When Russia Is Ready”

In the run-up to the invasion of Iraq, the question of whether protecting U.S. national security warranted a preventive war was fiercely debated. The question was not new. In the September 1954 Atlantic, Thomas K. Finletter, who had recently served as the Secretary of the Air Force, broached it in a very different context.

Principled Pork

"Sustainable farming" is now open to debate and commercial exploitation. But sustainable pork certainly tastes the way pork should


Adventures in Legal Weed

Colorado is now well into its first year as the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. How's it going? James Hamblin visits Aspen.


What Makes a Story Great?

What makes a story great? The storytellers behind House of CardsThis American LifeThe Moth, and more reflect on the creative process.


Tracing Sriracha's Origin to Thailand

Ever wonder how the wildly popular hot sauce got its name? It all started in Si Racha.


Where Confiscated Wildlife Ends Up

A government facility outside of Denver houses more than a million products of the illegal wildlife trade, from tigers and bears to bald eagles.


Is Wine Healthy?

James Hamblin prepares to impress his date with knowledge about the health benefits of wine.


The World's Largest Balloon Festival

Nine days, more than 700 balloons, and a whole lot of hot air



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