GREG COUCH (cover artist) was born in Davenport, Iowa, in 1956. He received a B.F.A. from Washington University in St. Louis in 1978. Couch’s work has been recognized by Graphis and in 1985 was included in the Society of Illustrators’ Twenty-seventh Annual Exhibition and the Society of Publication Designers Portfolio Show.

ALEX WEBB (cover-story photographer) has been a photojournalist since 1974. He joined Magnum Photos in 1976. Webb’s work has appeared in Stern, Geo, and The New York Times Magazine, and his photographs have been exhibited widely. His book of photographs from the tropics, Hot Light!Half-Made Worlds, was published in 1986.

NICHOLAS LEMANN (“Growing Pains”) is a national correspondent for The Atlantic. After graduating from Harvard University, in 1976, Lemann worked at The Washington Monthly, where he became the managing editor, and at Texas Monthly, where he was the executive editor. He has also been a reporter for The Washington Post.

BARBARA WALLRAFF (“The Literate Computer”) has been an associate editor of The Atlantic since 1983. She was previously a columnist and editor at The Boston Phoenix.

DAVID OWEN (“Ephemeral States”) is a contributing editor of The Atlantic.

KATIE LEISHMAN (“Public Health: AIDS and Syphilis” ) is a writer and editor who lives in Brooklyn. Leishman’s article “AIDS and Insects,”her third piece about AIDS for The Atlantic, appeared in the magazine last September. It followed the cover story “Heterosexuals and AIDS,” which was published last February.

JONATHAN TASINI (“Washington: Nuclear Missions”) is a part-time reporter for Business Week, specializing in labor issues and nuclear energy.

MARY OLIVER (“Writing Poems”) was awarded a Pulitzer Prize in poetry for American Primitive (1983). Oliver’s latest book is Dream Work, which was published last year.

LES A. MURRAY (“Letters to the Winner”) is the author of The Vernacular Republic: Selected Poems (1982) and The Daylight Moon, to be published this spring.

JOHN HERSEY (“God’s Typhoon”) received the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1945 for his book A Bell for Adano. Hersey was born in Tientsin, China, in 1914, and graduated from Yale University in 1936. He was a writer and editor at Time (1937-1944) and Life (1944-1945), and he covered the Second World War and other overseas stories for those magazines and for The New Yorker. Hersey began teaching English at Yale in 1950, and has been an adjunct professor emeritus there since 1984. He is the author of more than twenty books, including Hiroshima (1946), The Wall (1950), The Child Buyer (1960), The Call (1985), and Blues (1987).

ANTHONY BURGESS (“Native Ground”) is the author of some fifty books, the most recent of which is Little Wilson and Big God: Being the First Part of the Autobiography (1987).

BERNARD KNOX (“Why Socrates Was Killed”) was the director of the Center for Hellenic Studies, in Washington, D.C., from 1961 to 1985.

PHOEBE-LOU ADAMS (Brief Reviews) is a staff writer for The Atlantic.

EDWARD SOREL and NANCY CALDWELL SOREL (“First Encounters”) live in Manhattan. Edward Sorel has been a free-lance illustrator since 1957. He won the George Polk Award in 1981 for his satiric drawings and received a Society of illustrators gold medal in 1985. Nancy Caldwell Sorel is the author of Word People (1970) and Ever Since Eve (1984).

CORBY KUMMER (“Buying the Scene”) is a senior editor of The Atlantic, for which he writes regularly about food.

PHILIP LANG DON (“Where Sprawl Comes to Squeeze”) is the author of American Houses (1987). Langdon writes regularly about house design and construction for The Atlantic.

DOROTHY OSBORNE (Acrostic No. 30) crafts puzzles at her home in Hershey, Pennsylvania.

ANNE H. SOUKHANOV (Word Watch) is an executive editor of the trade and reference division of Houghton Mifflin, the publishers of The American Heritage Dictionary.

The January Almanac was compiled with the assistance of Gail Cleere and the staff of the U.S. Naval Observatory; Neil Spitzer, an associate editor of The Wilson Quarterly; Richard Snider, a professor of zoology at Michigan State University; Janet Yang, of MCA Enterprises, in Los Angeles; Owen Hendley, M.D., of the University of Virginia School of Medicine; The Weight Loss Information Center, in New York; the Federal Election Commission; and the U.S. Postal Service.