December 2005

James Fallows, "Why Iraq Has No Army"; Paul Bloom, "Is God an Accident?"; Christopher Hitchens, "Hurricane Lolita"; Mark Bowden on the Iran hostage crisis, Hanna Rosin on Jesus in Hollywood; Corby Kummer on Long Island Merlot; Nir Rosen on leaving Iraq; and much more.


Why Iraq Has No Army

An orderly exit from Iraq depends on the development of a viable Iraqi security force, but the Iraqis aren't even close. The Bush administration doesn't take the problem seriously—and it never has

Captivity Pageant

December 1979: Christmas comes for the Great Satan

Sultan of the Steppes

Kazakhstan's Soviet-schooled dictator—part economic modernizer, part Muslim progressive, part vainglorious despot—has enough oil to make himself into anything he wants

Is God an Accident?

Human beings come into the world with a predisposition to believe in supernatural phenomena—and this predisposition is a by-product of cognitive functioning gone awry
Interviews: Paul Bloom, the author of "Is God an Accident," on why—ironically—belief in Intelligent Design may be an inherited trait


Our Faith-Based Future

The White House remains unperturbed by the growing prospect of economic calamity

If America Left Iraq

The case for cutting and running

Challenge Match

How the former world chess champion Garry Kasparov hopes to unseat President Vladimir Putin

The Covert Option

Can sabotage and assassination stop Iran from going nuclear?

Primary Sources

Will Saudi Arabia's Shiites remain docile?; Europe's dim view (quelle surprise!) of the United States; new doctors as menaces; the fairer, cleaner sex


Passion in Fashion

Sample: Cuttings From Contemporary Fashion, edited by Bronwyn Cosgrave; Encyclopedia of Clothing and Fashion, edited by Valerie Steele; Mao, by Jung Chang and Jon Halliday; New Art City, by Jed Perl

Books of the Year

Selected by The Atlantic's literary editor, Benjamin Schwarz
Books: Books reviewed in The Atlantic Monthly in 2005

Sit and Spin

How slot machines give gamblers the business

Cuba Libre

Castro's least favorite books

Hurricane Lolita

Fifty years ago Vladimir Nabokov published his most notorious novel. Its ravishing effects can still be felt

New Fiction

Accidents, by Yael Hedaya

A Close Read

The Truth of the Matter, by Robb Forman Dew

Serf Advisory

A practical guide for hired help, from the eighteenth century to ours


Back to the Future

Which way is the new Las Vegas Monorail heading?

Can Jesus Save Hollywood?

From The Passion of the Christ to The Chronicles of Narnia, the Christian audience is making spirits rise

Merlot for Snobs

A Long Island winery is challenging Merlot's deservedly dismal reputation

The Least Worst Man

Sidney Luft (1915-2005)

Who's Who

A selective index to this month's issue


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?

The storytellers behind House of CardsandThis American Life 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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