Browse back issues of The Atlantic from 1857 to present
that have appeared on the Web.
From September 1995 to the present, the archive is essentially complete,
with the exception of a few articles,
the online rights to which are held exclusively by the authors.
The election that could break America, pro-Trump militant groups, niche sports and Ivy League admissions, and how China is rewriting global rules. Plus the last exit before autocracy, the making of Malcolm X, agony aunts, pandemic nesting, the Jefferson Bible, Kamala Harris’s ambition, British police shows, and more.
Making America again: The new Reconstruction, America’s plastic hour, and the flawed genius of the Constitution. Plus disaster and the modern city, Donald Judd, Black mayors remaking the South, Claudia Rankine, Hillary Rodham Clinton on women’s rights, and more.
How the virus won, America’s denial about racism, China’s AI surveillance state, what MasterClass really sells, and novelist Gayl Jones. Plus racial-progess myths, how protest works, Elena Ferrante’s latest, Erin Brockovich, looking for Frederick Douglass, Putin’s rise, and more.
Trump’s collaborators, the genius of supermarkets, the looming bank collapse, and unloved children. Plus new fiction by Andrew Martin, the end of minimalism, Big Tech and the plague, Kevin Kwan, Ai Weiwei on the pandemic, Lauren Groff on Florida, and more.
QAnon and conspiracies, the phantom papyrus, Russian election hacking, and the summer of Snowden. Plus sadcoms, the U.S. as failed state, and birds, with essays by Caitlin Flanagan, Thomas Lynch, Vann R. Newkirk II, and more.
The anxious child, the lawyer whose clients didn’t exist, fighting America’s opioid epidemic, and H. R. McMaster on what China wants. Plus friendship with Philip Roth, ending the office dress code, Joey Votto, Calder’s art, Robert Stone’s novels, and more.
How to destroy a government, tackling giraffes, and does Reiki work? Plus a Colorado murder, capitalism’s addiction problem, Michael Pollan on coffee, “premiocrity,” fallibility, weirdos, Hilary Mantel, and more.
The 2020 disinformation war, David Brooks on the nuclear family, #MeToo and the abortion-rights movement, and new fiction by Samantha Hunt. Plus trusting Nate Silver, the Supreme Court’s enduring bias, climate change and peer pressure, an ode to cold showers, and more.
The miseducation of the American boy, John Hendrickson on Joe Biden’s stutter, 20,000 feet under the sea, and a thriving conservative-Catholic community in Kansas. Plus Charlize Theron, Silicon Valley’s failure to deliver, the myth of free shipping, how flamenco went pop, and more.
A nation coming apart: articles by Danielle Allen, Caitlin Flanagan, James Mattis, Tom Junod, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Adam Serwer, and others. Plus the demise of “I’m sorry,” Texas secessionists, Leslie Jamison on Garry Winogrand, the tribe of Peloton, Queen & Slim, how to raise kind kids, and more.
The Tech Issue: Jeff Bezos’s master plan, when GoFundMe gets ugly, and why the world is getting louder. Plus Mark Bowden on what military generals think of Trump, Jack Goldsmith’s family and government surveillance, Sandra Boynton, baseball cards, why you never see your friends, and more.
Ivanka and Don Jr.’s fight to succeed Trump, why James Mattis quit, when Medicaid takes everything you own, and the culture war in schools. Plus the power of menopause, black athletes at white colleges, Susan Sontag, Juanita Broaddrick, serial killers, and more.
How 1 million black families were ripped from their farms, life with Lyme disease, Aung San Suu Kyi, and the lunch ladies of New Canaan. Plus Leslie Jamison on pregnancy after an eating disorder, meritocracy’s miserable winners, HBO’s sex-scene coach, how economists broke America, Clarence Thomas, and more.
Why police fail to catch sexual predators, Raj Chetty’s American dream, the jailhouse true-crime writer, and Drew Gilpin Faust on Virginia and race. Plus measles as metaphor, Sam Shepard as prophet, the stock-buyback swindle, new short fiction, and more.
The Workplace Report: The problem with HR, the end of expertise, and managing your professional decline. Plus William Langewiesche on MH370, watching extinction in real time, gay hookup culture and consent, the Earth’s deepest secrets, and more.
Abolish the priesthood, Trump’s bigotry, Viktor Orbán vs. CEU, Mireya’s third crossing, and was Shakespeare a woman? Plus Desus and Mero, the women who changed spycraft, real-time fact-checking, Aïda Muluneh’s vision for African photography, how the food revolution ruined eating, and more.
The Health Report: One doctor’s penance for overprescribing opioids, and the trouble with dentistry. Plus George Packer on the American century’s end, Kamala Harris takes her shot, Walt Whitman and democracy, Trump’s second term, the poetry of sportswriters, yet another George Bush, and more.
David Frum on immigration, will John Bolton bring on Armageddon, the fertility doctor’s secret, the towers that Trump never built, and white nationalism’s deep American roots. Plus William J. Burns on Putin and Russia, how AI will rewire us, the ‘Female Byron,’ James Fallows vs. leaf blowers, why America needs ‘Ellen,’ psychiatry’s hubris, and more.
Sexual-misconduct allegations against the ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ director Bryan Singer, the scientists rethinking animal cognition, the politics of disgust, and how Russian kleptocracy came to America. Plus Alfonso Cuarón’s feminist oeuvre, active-shooter drills’ damaging effects on children, how humans tamed themselves, FDR and Hoover’s fight over big government, and more.
The president’s extraordinary emergency powers, how Tibet went crazy for hoops, rescuing American exceptionalism, and why we’re so angry. Plus a new term for ‘LGBTQ,’ modern feminism’s RBG obsession, how authoritarians wage war on women, fiction by Samanta Schweblin, and more.
The inside story of the Clinton impeachment, why exorcisms are on the rise, and will the American left go too far? Plus an open letter to Elena Ferrante, the Democrats’ white-people problem, misinterpreting Frederick Douglass, Jack Reacher’s latest novel, addictive language apps, and more.
The Tech Issue: The Pentagon aims to weaponize the brain, a generation of kids raised on YouTube, and Alexa’s most dangerous feature. Plus how Newt Gingrich broke politics, Pope Francis and Óscar Romero, the case for liberal Republicanism, Knausgaard devours himself, the personal cost of black success, and more.
The crisis in democracy: articles by Anne Applebaum, Stephen Breyer, Jeff Rosen, David Frum, Amy Chua, and others. Plus the price of sports protests, what getting shot taught Elaina Plott about American politics, the brutal truth about climate change, why #brands are not our friends, James Parker on Rick and Morty, and more.
How courtrooms are inhospitable to female trial lawyers, the nasty scientific feud over what killed the dinosaurs, and how your brain deceives you. Plus the rise of Latino populism, Caitlin Flanagan on ‘Lolita,’ American poetry’s next generation, what your work emails reveal, YouTube’s gun guru, and more.
The new Netflix film is a think-piece trap—shiny on the outside, hollow on the inside.
“Everyone in this world is one of three kinds,” declares Mamaw (played by Glenn Close), the wise grand-matriarch of Ron Howard’s new film, Hillbilly Elegy. “A good Terminator, a bad Terminator, and neutral.” I hate to correct Mamaw, who is trying to encourage her impressionable grandson, J. D. Vance (Gabriel Basso), to follow a righteous path by invoking Arnold Schwarzenegger’s beloved action franchise. But there is no such thing as a “neutral” Terminator; those cyborg heroes exist to either protect or destroy. I cannot imagine what a neutral Terminator would do, save sit in a chair and remain forever shiny and inactive.
Mamaw is entitled to her bad movie opinions, of course. But this monologue is the kind of speechifying that rings hollow throughout Hillbilly Elegy, an adaptation of Vance’s best-selling 2016 memoir that debuts on Netflix tomorrow. When it first arrived on bookshelves, Vance’s story was celebrated as a glimpse into an oft-ignored pocket of America: the white working class of Appalachia and the Rust Belt who swung to Donald Trump in the 2016 election. Hailed as an “anger translator” and cited by Oprah Winfrey and Hillary Clinton, Vance wrote about growing up poor, living with a heroin-addicted mother, and clawing his way into Yale Law School. The book arrived at a seemingly serendipitous moment, offering a bleak but candid view of communities gutted by drug abuse and poverty.
“We are on an absolutely catastrophic path,” said a COVID-19 doctor at America’s best-prepared hospital.
Perhaps no hospital in the United States was better prepared for a pandemic than the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha.
After the SARS outbreak of 2003, its staff began specifically preparing for emerging infections. The center has the nation’s only federal quarantine facility and its largest biocontainment unit, which cared for airlifted Ebola patients in 2014. The people on staff had detailed pandemic plans. They ran drills. Ron Klain, who was President Barack Obama’s “Ebola czar” and will be Joe Biden’s chief of staff in the White House, once told me that UNMC is “arguably the best in the country” at handling dangerous and unusual diseases. There’s a reason many of the Americans who were airlifted from the Diamond Princess cruise ship in February were sent to UNMC.
The U.S. could have hundreds of thousands of fewer births next year than it would have in the absence of a pandemic.
By now, the pandemic has disrupted Americans’ daily lives for nearly as long as a baby typically spends in the womb. This means that many children conceived in mid-March are weeks away from joining us in this disorienting new world, but just as notable are the children who won’t be joining us—the babies who would have been born were it not for the ongoing economic and public-health crises. These missing births, which could end up numbering in the hundreds of thousands in the U.S., will make up what’s been called the “COVIDbabybust.”
One would think that a baby bust would take at least nine months to reveal itself, but traces of one seem to have already appeared. As Philip Cohen, a sociologist at the University of Maryland, has noted, births started to decline in California and Florida during the summer. That’d be too soon, though, to reflect a drop in conceptions during the pandemic, or a rise in abortions or miscarriages (which tend to happenearlier on in pregnancy). Three possible explanations, Cohen told me, are errors or lags in states’ data on births, large numbers of pregnant people moving during the pandemic and giving birth in another state, or a large, unexpected drop-off in births that was already going to happen regardless of the pandemic.
Stopping the virus from spreading requires us to override our basic intuitions.
Over the summer, parts of the United States seemed to have a grip on the pandemic. New York and much of the Northeast, for instance, recorded relatively few new infections. The pandemic gloom was taking a less heavy toll than it had in its first months, partly because warm weather made restrictions on indoor activity more bearable.
That sense of control was illusory. As the seasons have changed, the virus has resumed its exponential spread. The public’s willingness to follow health guidelines also feels more tenuous. After months of sacrifice, many people seem simply to lack the will to keep up their social-distancing efforts.
Many factors help explain America’s abject failure to contain the pandemic. A good number of them can be traced back to Donald Trump. But many democracies with able leaders, such as Germany and Canada, are also struggling to contain the virus, so pointing to the president’s lies and incompetence isn’t sufficient.
At the dawn of the 1960s, a couple of New York admen named Arthur Rankin Jr. and Jules Bass created the Christmas special. Before that, the networks hadn’t been sure exactly how they should entertain children during the holiday season. They had largely come down on the side of edification, as seen in NBC’s 1951 commission of a children’s opera, Amahl and the Night Visitors, broadcast live on Christmas Eve, after which the show lived on in reruns, and—also on NBC—Babes in Toyland, a turn-of-the-last-century operetta based on the Mother Goose tales.
But American children of the 1960s weren’t going to put up with operas and nursery rhymes. We had grown strong on orange juice, casseroles, and chewable vitamins. We weren’t afraid of polio or tuberculosis—we had the Salk vaccine and the tine test. We had had one small step for mankind, 31 flavors, and 101 dalmatians. The previous decade had already established the whims of children as a legitimate market force; in two years, Wham-O had made $45 million on the Hula-Hoop. Rich guys in office buildings were taking us seriously. What did we want next?
Fox News acknowledged Trump’s loss. Facebook and Twitter cracked down on election lies. But true believers can get their misinformation elsewhere.
When Fox News called Arizona for Democrat Joe Biden shortly after the polls closed there on Election Night, right-wing social media erupted in fury. Fox is the most conservative of the nation’s major news outlets, and its aggressive Arizona call—which most other national outlets did not follow for days—left true believers on the right feeling betrayed. On the social-media app Parler, which has been gaining popularity among supporters of President Donald Trump, posts alleging electoral irregularities mixed with assorted hashtags decrying Fox itself: #BOYCOTTFOXNEWS, #DUMPFOXNEWS, #FAKEFOXNEWS, #FOXNEWSISDEAD, and #FOXNEWSSUCKS. Throughout Election Day, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube had been cracking down on a flurry of allegations about voter fraud in Arizona; the platforms quickly applied warning labels to new posts containing false or disputed information and reduced the distribution of groups spreading them. In response, pro-Trump influencers exhorted their followers to congregate on Parler, which tells users to “speak freely and express yourself openly, without fear of being ‘deplatformed’ for your views.”
In the aftermath of recent terrorist attacks, the French government has introduced new legislation that threatens the very freedoms it vows to defend.
The beheading of the middle-school teacher Samuel Paty on October 16 by a young man enraged by Paty’s showing his class caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad by the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo has prompted French President Emmanuel Macron to vow that France will never flinch in its defense of freedom of expression. In the name of upholding the core values of the French Republic, however, Macron’s government and members of his party have introduced new legislation that effectively restricts them. Unless the proposed laws are modified or scrapped, France will soon be a far less free country than it is now.
Three new pieces of legislation aim to make the French more secure by restricting democratic rights. A bill that sets the research budget for French universities for the next decade, adopted by France’s Senate on November 20, targets student protests and took a stab at academic freedom. The bill includes a provision criminalizing on-campus gatherings that “trouble the tranquility and good order of the establishment” with a fine of up to 45,000 euros and a prison term of up to three years. An amendment requiring that academic research hew to the “values of the Republic” was scrapped only at the last minute, after strong pushback by scholars who feared that its intent was to restrict freedom of inquiry.
More people than ever are hospitalized with COVID-19. Health-care workers can’t go on like this.
On Saturday morning, Megan Ranney was about to put on her scrubs when she heard that Joe Biden had won the presidential election. That day, she treated people with COVID-19 while street parties erupted around the country. She was still in the ER in the late evening when Biden and Vice President–elect Kamala Harris made their victory speeches. These days, her shifts at Rhode Island Hospital are long, and they “are not going to change in the next 73 days,” before Biden becomes president, she told me on Monday. Every time Ranney returns to the hospital, there are more COVID-19 patients.
The question shouldn’t be whether the president can pardon himself but whether he can grant himself a pardon—and those are not the same thing.
As Donald Trump’s tenure in office comes in for its landing, a major question is whether the president—facing questions about liability for offenses including bank and tax fraud—can pardon himself.
This might seem like the right operational question, but it is imprecise as a constitutional one. Article II of the Constitution says that the president “shall have Power to grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offenses against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.” Did you catch that? The president has the power not to pardon people, but “to grant … Pardons” (emphasis added). So the question is not whether Trump can pardon himself. It’s whether he can grant himself a pardon.
The arc of history does not bend inevitably toward justice. Sometimes, Americans barely avoid disaster.
On the Monday following the election of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris to the White House, I made the short drive from my home in Maryland down to Washington, D.C., to visit the Lincoln Memorial. It was unseasonably warm for November, and I rolled up my sleeves as kayakers propelled their bodies forward on the river behind me. Just 48 hours before, every major U.S. news network had projected that Biden had won the presidency. That outcome—even though President Donald Trump and most Republican officials were (and still are) refusing to accept it—pulled the country back from continuing on what has been an ever more dangerous trajectory. For four years, Trump has, among other things, hammered away at government accountability, dismissed the reality of systemic racism, strained relationships with our allies overseas, eroded America’s commitment to human rights around the world and at home, and ignored and exacerbated the climate crisis. Four more years of his administration would have rendered the damage even worse than it currently is.