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.
Black TV writers and producers, converging megafires, America’s Atlantis, and the new Puritans. Plus portraits from Afghanistan, Colson Whitehead’s new novel, Peter Thiel, Nate Bargatze, Formula 1, guilt-free sex, and more.
One family 20 years after 9/11, how the creative class broke America, and remembering Emmett Till. Plus a 17th-century priest’s radical feminism, the problem with anti-racist self-help, morning people, why Millennials love dogs, Sally Rooney, Douglas Tompkins, and more.
Boris Johnson, the world Kodak made, six months in a meatpacking plant, and George Packer on the four Americas. Plus drinking alone, police unions, Top Gun, the war on Bollywood, an ode to procrastination, and more.
Why Confederate lies live on, Black America’s origin stories, Red Cross quarantine ships, Brett Kavanaugh, and new fiction from Morgan Thomas. Plus the Appalachian Elvis, Richard Wright, post-COVID fashion, Stacey Abrams’s fiction, flip phones, and more.
Return the national parks to the tribes, how we’ll remember the pandemic, a kidnapping gone wrong, and the women reinventing the Western. Plus American exclusion, Zoom justice, Andrew Yang, puberty TV, first ladies, giant closets, and more.
Private schools and inequity, fixing the internet, America’s reliance on special ops, and understanding long COVID. Plus new fiction by Paul Yoon, pandemic merch, Beirut after the blast, Kazuo Ishiguro’s radiant robot, Sam Sifton’s no-recipe recipes, and more.
Inheritance: Narratives of the enslaved, forgotten founder Prince Hall, the Voting Rights Act, and Anna Deavere Smith on forging Black identity. Plus Charles “Teenie” Harris, ultra-fast fashion, the Earth’s deep past, Caroline Shaw, hyperpop, nervous breakdowns, and more.
The pandemic endgame, the most American religion, and how Biden should hold Trump accountable. Plus Martellus Bennett, China’s rebel historians, new fiction by Te-Ping Chen, installment plans, suffragists, Martin Amis, and more.
The Tech Issue: The last children of Down syndrome, the most famous teens on TikTok, and can history predict the future? Plus therapy and parental alienation, why remote learning isn’t the only problem with school, Eddie Murphy’s return, the existential despair of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Adrienne Rich, and more.
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.
A brilliant new account upends bedrock assumptions about 30,000 years of change.
Many years ago, when I was a junior professor at Yale, I cold-called a colleague in the anthropology department for assistance with a project I was working on. I didn’t know anything about the guy; I just selected him because he was young, and therefore, I figured, more likely to agree to talk.
Five minutes into our lunch, I realized that I was in the presence of a genius. Not an extremely intelligent person—a genius. There’s a qualitative difference. The individual across the table seemed to belong to a different order of being from me, like a visitor from a higher dimension. I had never experienced anything like it before. I quickly went from trying to keep up with him, to hanging on for dear life, to simply sitting there in wonder.
In ways both large and small, American society still assumes that the default adult has a partner and that the default household contains multiple people.
If you were to look under the roofs of American homes at random, it wouldn’t take long to find someone who lives alone. By the Census Bureau’s latest count, there are about 36 million solo dwellers, and together they make up 28 percent of U.S. households.
Even though this percentage has been climbing steadily for decades, these people are still living in a society that is tilted against them. In the domains of work, housing, shopping, and health care, much of American life is a little—and in some cases, a lot—easier if you have a partner or live with family members or housemates. The number of people who are inconvenienced by that fact grows every year.
Those who live alone, to be clear, are not lonely and miserable. Research indicates that, young or old, single people are more social than their partnered peers. Bella DePaulo, the author of How We Live Now: Redefining Home and Family in the 21st Century, reeled off to me some of the pleasures of having your own space: “the privacy, the freedom to arrange your life and your space just the way you want it—you get to decide when to sleep, when to get up, what you eat, when you eat, what you watch on Netflix, how you set the thermostat.”
Breaking up social-media companies is one way to fix them. Shutting their users up is a better one.
Your social life has a biological limit: 150. That’s the number—Dunbar’s number, proposed by the British psychologist Robin Dunbar three decades ago—of people with whom you can have meaningful relationships.
What makes a relationship meaningful? Dunbar gave TheNew York Times a shorthand answer: “those people you know well enough to greet without feeling awkward if you ran into them in an airport lounge”—a take that may accidentally reveal the substantial spoils of having produced a predominant psychological theory. The construct encompasses multiple “layers” of intimacy in relationships. We can reasonably expect to develop up to 150 productive bonds, but we have our most intimate, and therefore most connected, relationships with only about five to 15 closest friends. We can maintain much larger networks, but only by compromising the quality or sincerity of those connections; most people operate in much smaller social circles.
Lately, news stories about the supply chain tend to start in similar ways. The reader is dropped into an American container port, maybe in Long Beach, California, or Savannah, Georgia, full to bursting with trailer-size steel boxes loaded with toilet paper and exercise bikes and future Christmas presents. Some of the containers have gone untouched for weeks or months, waiting for their contents to be trucked to distribution centers. On the horizon, dozens of additional vessels are anchored and idle, waiting for their turn in the port. More ships keep arriving. Everyone involved—sailors, longshoremen, customs clerks, truckers—works as fast and hard as they possibly can. It’s not fast or hard enough.
Four Hours at the Capitol, a new HBO documentary, is a vivid, terrifying picture of violent insurrection.
In the days and weeks after the storming of the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, commentators and media outlets grappled with the question of what to call that event. Language is sticky; it clarifies and obfuscates the truth depending on who’s wielding it. January 6 was described as or likened to a “riot,” a “tourist visit,” an “insurrection,” a “peaceful protest,” and a “coup attempt.” And yet, watching Four Hours at the Capitol, Jamie Roberts’s tight, unsettling new HBO documentary about that day, another word seemed more appropriate to me, one that most of the participants interviewed in the film might agree on. More than anything else, January 6 was war.
There have been a number of incisive breakdowns of that day, including “Day of Rage,” TheNew York Times’ 40-minute film detailing how the attack was strategized and executed, and how President Donald Trump and his allies fomented mass anger and even seemed to encourage the violence. Four Hours at the Capitol isn’t as analytical, or as thorough in its parsing of all the information that’s emerged. But its immersiveness offers something else. With his rigidly chronological framing and his interviews with people who were present at the Capitol that day, Roberts captures the extent to which both sides were engaging in combat. This dynamic emerges over and over again throughout different accounts and video clips. One clash between Capitol Police officers and pro-Trump extremists is referred to by a participant as “the battle for the tunnel.” Different interviewees describe fighting on “the front line,” engaging in “hand-to-hand combat,” and, in the case of one police officer, the strangeness of walking through his own colleagues’ blood. In a scene that seems ripped right out of a Bruce Willis movie, a police commander shouts, “We are not losing the U.S. Capitol today, do you hear me?”
A lasting effect of this pandemic will be a revolution in worker expectations.
I first noticed that something weird was happening this past spring.
In April, the number of workers who quit their job in a single month broke an all-time U.S. record. Economists called it the “Great Resignation.” But America’s quittin’ spirit was just getting started. In July, even more people left their job. In August, quitters set yet another record. That Great Resignation? It just keeps getting greater.
“Quits,” as the Bureau of Labor Statistics calls them, are rising in almost every industry. For those in leisure and hospitality, especially, the workplace must feel like one giant revolving door. Nearly 7 percent of employees in the “accommodations and food services” sector left their job in August. That means one in 14 hotel clerks, restaurant servers, and barbacks said sayonara in a single month. Thanks to several pandemic-relief checks, a rent moratorium, and student-loan forgiveness, everybody, particularly if they are young and have a low income, has more freedom to quit jobs they hate and hop to something else.
Different chemically than it was a decade ago, the drug is creating a wave of severe mental illness and worsening America’s homelessness problem.
In the fall of 2006, law enforcement on the southwest border of the United States seized some crystal methamphetamine. In due course, a five-gram sample of that seizure landed on the desk of a 31-year-old chemist named Joe Bozenko, at the Drug Enforcement Administration lab outside Washington, D.C.
Organic chemistry can be endlessly manipulated, with compounds that, like Lego bricks, can be used to build almost anything. The field seems to breed folks whose every waking minute is spent puzzling over chemical reactions. Bozenko, a garrulous man with a wide smile, worked in the DEA lab during the day and taught chemistry at a local university in the evenings. “Chemist by day, chemist by night,” his Twitter bio once read.
At its best, The French Dispatch mixes madcap fun, gentle satire, and earnestness. At its worst, it’s exhausting.
Wes Anderson has always had a penchant for dysfunctional underdogs—the eccentric high schooler Max Fischer of Rushmore, the failed family of geniuses in The Royal Tenenbaums, the herd of garbage-dwelling canines in Isle of Dogs. It’s no surprise that the filmmaker’s newest feature focuses on another lovable long shot: print media. The film is an homage to the mid-century heyday of The New Yorker and its ilk—a time when writers seemingly had no spending restrictions, deadlines, or word limits.
Anderson has always been a nostalgic storyteller. Many of his films filter cinematic movements through his idiosyncratic style; The French Dispatch takes a different approach, attempting to sift that aesthetic onto an entire print magazine. His signatures are all there: beautifully built sets that resemble elaborate cutouts, droll line readings that prompt frequent chuckles but few belly laughs, and a deeply controlling directorial approach. But while The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou paid specific tribute to Jacques Cousteau, or The Darjeeling Limited to Satyajit Ray, his latest tries to honor too broad of a subject. The resulting film is a breezy viewing experience—but also a shallow one.
You can make your quest for meaning manageable by breaking it down into three bite-size dimensions.
“How to Build a Life” is a weekly column by Arthur Brooks, tackling questions of meaning and happiness. Click here to listen to his new podcast series on all things happiness, How to Build a Happy Life.
Want to live in a directed, resolute way? To always know why you’re doing what you’re doing? There’s a simple way to make your dreams come true: Go find the meaning of life!
People who believe that they know their life’s meaning enjoy greater well-being than those who don’t. One 2019 study found that agreeing with the statement “I have a philosophy of life that helps me understand who I am” was associated with fewer symptoms of depression and higher positive affect.
Lucky you if you were born already knowing what the meaning of your life is. For the rest of us, the search can be difficult and frustrating. Philosophy is often unhelpful, offering abstract ideas such as Aristotle’s human function or Kant’s “highest good” that are hard to comprehend, let alone put into action.
It is not a world in a headset but a fantasy of power.
In science fiction, the end of the world is a tidy affair. Climate collapse or an alien invasion drives humanity to flee on cosmic arks, or live inside a simulation. Real-life apocalypse is more ambiguous. It happens slowly, and there’s no way of knowing when the Earth is really doomed. To depart our world, under these conditions, is the same as giving up on it.
And yet, some of your wealthiest fellow earthlings would like to do exactly that. Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and other purveyors of private space travel imagine a celestial paradise where we can thrive as a “multiplanet species.” That’s the dream of films such as Interstellar and Wall-E. Now comes news that Mark Zuckerberg has embraced the premise of The Matrix, that we can plug ourselves into a big computer and persist as flesh husks while reality decays around us. According to a report this week from The Verge, the Facebook chief may soon rebrand his company to mark its change in focus from social media to “the metaverse.”