December 2004

Mark Bowden, "Among the Hostage-Takers"; James Fallows, "Will Iran Be Next?"; William H. Simon, "The Confidentiality Fetish"; Benjamin Wittes, "Leaks and the Law"; Robert D. Kaplan, "At the Gates of Brussels"; Anonymous, "How Not to Catch a Terrorist"; P. J. O'Rourke, "Hail to the _____"; Alexandra Starr, "Executive Assistance"; fiction by Bill Roorbach; and much more.

The Atlantic - December 2004

Also in this issue

Letters to the editor


What to watch for in the weeks ahead

Other articles in this issue

The Travel Advisory

A guide to steamboat cruises down the Mississippi River


Among the Hostage-Takers

Twenty-five years ago in Tehran a group of Iranian students stormed the U.S. embassy and took hostage the entire American diplomatic mission. Now many of the leading hostage-takers speak candidly about their actions—which a surprising number deeply regret
Interviews: Mark Bowden, the author of "Among the Hostage-Takers," speaks about the Iran hostage crisis of 1979 and its architects' present-day struggles with the Islamic regime
Video: Links to video and audio footage elsewhere on the Web

Will Iran Be Next?

Soldiers, spies, and diplomats conduct a classic Pentagon war game—with sobering results

The Confidentiality Fetish

The problem with attorney-client privilege

Leaks and the Law

What happens when the journalistic principle of protecting confidential sources clashes with the public interest in prosecuting a crime? A cross-examination

Harbinger Hall

A section of the bookcase slowly swung out into the room—a secret door, straight from a monster movie


News Judgment and Jihad

Terrorists depend on the cooperation of the media. It's time to stop providing it

At the Gates of Brussels

If Recep Tayyip Erdogan gets his way, Turkey will be more Islamic and Europe will be more Turkish. Both would be good news

How Not to Catch a Terrorist

A ten-step program, from the files of the U.S. intelligence community


December elections could edge Taiwan closer to a symbolic declaration of independence—and the United States toward military conflict with China. There's one way out

Holiday Cheer

The world's most bibulous countries

Hail to the _____

An all-purpose post-election editorial, offered free to news organizations across the United States

Executive Assistance

The split between "red" states and "blue" states has never been wider, but one type of candidate is bridging that gap: businessmen

Pork With a Point

The highway bill—a translation

Primary Sources

Federal air marshals behaving badly; why women get less sleep than men; divorce among born-again Christians

Russia's Loose Nukes

[This article is unavailable online.]


Cheap at ,000

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, edited by H. C. G. Matthew and Brian Harrison; Encyclopedia of the Great Plains, edited by David J. Wishart; The Children's Blizzard, by David Laskin; The Encyclopedia of Chicago, edited by James R. Grossman, Ann Durkin Keating, and Janice L. Reiff; Chicago, by A. J. Liebling; Honored Guest, by Joy Williams

Leave Them and Love Them

In Alice Munro's fiction, memory and passion reorder life

Shakespeare in Love, or in Context

If society creates art, as Stephen Greenblatt believes, then why was Shakespeare's achievement so singular?

The Minister's Tale

Marilynne Robinson's long-awaited second novel is an almost otherworldly book—and reveals Robinson as a somewhat otherworldly figure herself
Interviews: Marilynne Robinson talks about her long-awaited second novel and the holiness of the everyday

The Wonderful, Horrible Life of Humankind

From corruptibility to immortality, the human condition as revealed in four very different books


Victor Klemperer's meticulous diaries of daily life under East Germany's "soul-smashing" Communists reveal a man trying to convince himself not that the system was wrong but that it was right


Knock It Off

The art of the unreal

100 Years Ago in The Atlantic

"Remarks at the Peace Banquet"

Flavorless No More

Small batch by small batch, the makers of a new artisanal vodka have tapped into the market for America's best-selling spirits

The Paladin of Palimony

Marvin Mitchelson (1928-2004)

Who's Who

A selective index to this month's issue


Where the Wild Things Go

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


Adults Need Playtime Too

When was the last time you played your favorite childhood game?


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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