After Karzai, Why Are All the Cartoon Mothers Dead?, and more...

This Month from The Atlantic Magazine

July/August 2014

Secrets of the creative brain, inside the Lennon-McCartney collaboration, Afghanistan after Karzai, why cartoon mothers are all dead, and more


After Karzai

Afghanistan’s outgoing president helped heal a shattered country. He also winked at corruption and ruled like a tribal chief. His successor will inherit a nation that’s in better shape than you might think—and a government with little power to keep it that way. 

Mujib Mashal

Why Are All the Cartoon Mothers Dead?

The dead-mother plot is a classic of children’s fiction, but animated movies have supplied a new twist: the fun father has taken her place. 

Sarah Boxer

Secrets of the Creative Brain

A leading neuroscientist who has spent decades studying creativity shares her research on where genius comes from, whether it is dependent on high IQ—and why it is so often accompanied by mental illness.

Nancy Andreasen

The Power of Two

Despite the mythology around the idea of the lone genius, the famous partnership of John Lennon and Paul McCartney demonstrates the brilliance of creative pairs.

Joshua Wolf Shenk

Five Creative Solutions

Scratch-off election ballots, lab-grown meat, and more

Creative Pairs, In Their Own Words

Members of creative pairs on their partners

Joshua Wolf Shenk


The Great Secession

Faced with sweeping social change, conservative Christians are walling themselves off from secular society. But when religion isolates itself, both sides lose.

Jonathan Rauch

Punctuated Equilibrium

Will autocorrect save the apostrophe, and slow language’s evolution?

Joe Pinsker

The Most Modern Curator

Why Paola Antonelli put Pac-Man, a mine detonator, and a vial of sweat in the Museum of Modern Art

Megan Garber

The End of the Internet?

How regional networks may replace the World Wide Web

Gordon M. Goldstein

What Is Art?

Why we like what we like

Matthew Hutson

How You’ll Get Organized

Four glimpses of a future without information overload

James Fallows

Oodles of Noodles

A very short book excerpt

David Sax

A Bar in Britain That Doesn’t Serve Beer

Is a bar still a bar if it doesn’t serve alcohol?

Uri Friedman

Why Marijuana Should Be Legal, and Expensive

Is there a way to let adults toke while keeping pot out of the hands of high-schoolers?

Olga Khazan

The Culture File

The Twee Revolution

From Wes Anderson to Zooey Deschanel to Brooklynites on bicycles, a terrifying aesthetic is overtaking America.

James Parker

What's in a Name? Everything.

Social mobility has never been easy.

Benjamin M. Friedman

How Brando Broke the Movies

He reinvented acting, and Hollywood hasn’t recovered.

Tom Shone

A Queer Tour of Israel

Out and about in a nation with identity issues

Spencer Kornhaber

The Other Helen Keller

An unusual historical novel

Ann Hulbert