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.
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 Health Report: America isn’t prepared for the next plague, the life-expectancy gap between black and white Americans, and when children say they’re trans. Plus William Langewiesche on a B-2 stealth raid in Libya, the formula for team chemistry, the dangers of distracted parenting, Jean-Michel Basquiat, weird DNA, and more.
A Muslim among Israeli settlers, the pearl at the center of an 80-year-old hoax, Marti Noxon putting women’s rage on TV, and pop culture’s response to Trump. Plus, Kissinger on AI and the end of humanity, an interview with Seth Meyers, the search for life on Mars, NRATV, and more.
The Sports Report: Malcolm Jenkins, praise for fair-weather fans, Floyd Landis takes down Lance Armstrong, and the mobster who bought his kid a hockey team. Plus the U.S. military’s plunging morale, James Fallows on reinventing America, a new era of fake videos, an interview with Issa Rae, and more.
American conspiracy theories are entering a dangerous new phase.
If you were an adherent, no one would be able to tell. You would look like any other American. You could be a mother, picking leftovers off your toddler’s plate. You could be the young man in headphones across the street. You could be a bookkeeper, a dentist, a grandmother icing cupcakes in her kitchen. You may well have an affiliation with an evangelical church. But you are hard to identify just from the way you look—which is good, because someday soon dark forces may try to track you down. You understand this sounds crazy, but you don’t care. You know that a small group of manipulators, operating in the shadows, pull the planet’s strings. You know that they are powerful enough to abuse children without fear of retribution. You know that the mainstream media are their handmaidens, in partnership with Hillary Clinton and the secretive denizens of the deep state. You know that only Donald Trump stands between you and a damned and ravaged world.
Short of an outright constitutional crisis, a lot could still go horribly wrong.
A brazen refusal by the president to leave office is surely a nightmare scenario. But even if President Donald Trump were to lose and accept the results on November 3 or soon thereafter, he could nevertheless wreak significant damage during the period between the election and the inauguration of Joe Biden—endangering the incoming administration, at best, and actively sabotaging it, at worst.
Presidential transitions are perilous even in normal times. With each inauguration of a new president every four to eight years, the executive branch undergoes a massive overhaul; more than 4,000 new political appointees flood into federal departments and agencies, including 1,200 senior officials who require Senate confirmation. The minute a new president is sworn in, his administration assumes responsibility for everything from nuclear launch codes to pandemic response, economic policy, and counterterrorism—at the very moment when the government’s capacity is most diminished. At the Defense Department alone, the nation’s largest employer and perhaps the world’s most complex organization, the top 59 senior civilian leaders, from the secretary of defense on down, are political appointees requiring Senate confirmation. A private-sector company would be crazy to emulate this approach, yet the security, the health, and the prosperity of Americans depend on its success.
They’re hoping that the vice-presidential nominee will be as malleable as Joe Biden.
The far left of the Democratic Party spent much of the primary attacking Kamala Harris, decrying her as an untrustworthy “cop” whose overtures to the left were half-hearted and opportunistic. But with Joe Biden naming the senator from California as his running mate, some progressive leaders and activists, including Harris skeptics, sound reluctantly optimistic about what the pair could achieve.
The progressives I interviewed seem to view Harris and Biden as similar figures, occupying an “in-between space” in American politics, as one activist put it to me. Their political identities and agendas are a muddled mix of the old establishment Democratic politics and the progressivism of the surging Millennial left—a combination progressives believe they can work with. They think that, just as Biden has already welcomed progressive input in his campaign, Harris could be malleable, a potential vice president they can push in their ideological direction.
The rumors began with a video depicting a black-clad figure in the group’s signature Guy Fawkes mask. “Greetings, citizens of the United States,” the figure said in a creepy, distorted voice. “This is a message from Anonymous to the Minneapolis Police Department.” The masked announcer addressed Floyd’s killing and the larger pattern of police misconduct, concluding, “We will be exposing your many crimes to the world. We are legion. Expect us.”
The clip generated a wave of renewed enthusiasm for Anonymous, particularly among young people. Twitter accounts associated with the group saw a surge of new followers, a couple of them by the millions.
“Mystery” toys that kids peel open and cast aside speak volumes about consumer culture.
Kids like weird things: Yellow sponge-boys, talking doe-eyed ponies, ruddy-cheeked rodents that say only “pika pika,” and, especially in the past few years, unboxing videos.
Kids’ unboxing videos are YouTube series in which children, or in some cases just disembodied hands, take toys out of their packaging and play with them as uplifting music plays in the background. One particularly popular video shows a small boy unwrapping and then assembling a child-size electric car, using plastic tools that would surely fall apart in less practiced hands. He then drives the car down the sidewalk through an eerily empty neighborhood to a playground that is also completely empty, where he plays by himself, presumably because all the other neighborhood children are busy watching YouTube. The video has 267 million views.
A long obsession with Mars makes all the other worlds seem a little neglected.
Paul Byrne loves Mars. He wrote his doctoral thesis and several research papers about the planet. Most of his graduate students study Mars. And yet, earlier this year, he posed this question on Twitter: “If you could end the pandemic by destroying one of the planets, which one would you choose and why would it be Mars?”
What does Byrne, a planetary scientist at North Carolina State University, have against the red planet? Nothing, he told me. But everyone else loves Mars too, and maybe a little too much.
Aside from Earth and the moon, humankind has studied Mars more than any other world in the universe. In the United States, many planetary scientists are devoted, in one way or another, to the study of Mars. Since 1996, NASA has sent more than a dozen robots to orbit, rove, dig, and hop around the planet. The latest NASA rover, Perseverance, departed for Mars in July, days after China and the United Arab Emirates launched their own missions to the planet.
Her candidacy meets a culture that, too often, still doesn’t know what to make of women who seek to lead.
“There will be a resistance to your ambition. There will be people who say to you, ‘You are out of your lane,’ because they are burdened by only having the capacity to see what has always been instead of what can be.”
That was Kamala Harris, earlier this month, speaking at the Black Girls Lead conference. She was talking about the American status quo. But she was also acknowledging a more particular set of circumstances: the stories that had been published and aired about her over the previous months, as Harris was discussed as a potential running mate for Joe Biden. The stories commented breezily on Harris’s loyalty, her authenticity, her palatability. They quoted Senator Chris Dodd griping that after Harris trounced Joe Biden during a primary-season debate, she had been insufficiently apologetic about the victory. They quoted Ed Rendell, a friend of Biden’s, complaining without evidence of Harris’s tendency to “rub people the wrong way.” They treated Harris’s intelligence not as an asset, but as a kind of condescension. They treated her career successes as evidence of opportunism. They whispered, basically, “You are out of your lane.”
In attacking her record on crime policy, her critics are ignoring how politics actually works.
The racial-justice movement sparked by the murder of George Floyd has had two quite different effects on Joe Biden’s presidential campaign. It has intensified the pressure on Biden to choose a Black woman as his running mate. And it has also intensified the pressure on him to choose a running mate with a history of challenging police brutality. Those two political imperatives collided in the debate over whether Biden should pick Senator Kamala Harris—a former prosecutor whom some progressives in California have characterized as too deferential to police.
The coronavirus could change lingering cultural assumptions about what makes for a full and happy life.
A few weeks into the pandemic, a meme circulated among some of the mothers I follow on various social-media platforms. “Check in on your friends with little kids,” the words in a tiny black serif font on a light-pink background read, followed by a fairly long list of things parents with young kids couldn’t do, including “go for a run by themselves,” “peacefully read a book or start a new project,” and “go to the bathroom by themselves.” This innocuous-seeming post caught my eye because it felt like a cry for help. My friends were getting honest about how hard it is to raise children right now.
I also read it as an indirect plea to not take my child-free privileges for granted. I don’t know what it’s like to parent a young child, let alone parent in a pandemic. I can imagine it, but like most life-altering experiences, it’s one of those things you have to live to truly understand. I’ve always been ambivalent about whether I would have children, but as I entered my early 40s, I started exploring the possibility of having a child on my own. And then the pandemic happened.
A virus has brought the world’s most powerful country to its knees.
How did it come to this? A virus a thousand times smaller than a dust mote has humbled and humiliated the planet’s most powerful nation. America has failed to protect its people, leaving them with illness and financial ruin. It has lost its status as a global leader. It has careened between inaction and ineptitude. The breadth and magnitude of its errors are difficult, in the moment, to truly fathom.
In the first half of 2020, SARS‑CoV‑2—the new coronavirus behind the disease COVID‑19—infected 10 million people around the world and killed about half a million.