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.
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.
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.
Colonizing the red planet is a ridiculous way to help humanity.
There’s no place like home—unless you’re Elon Musk. A prototype of SpaceX’s Starship, which may someday send humans to Mars, is, according to Musk, likely to launch soon, possibly within the coming days. But what motivates Musk? Why bother with Mars? A video clip from an interview Musk gave in 2019 seems to sum up Musk’s vision—and everything that’s wrong with it.
In the video, Musk is seen reading a passage from Carl Sagan’s book Pale Blue Dot. The book, published in 1994, was Sagan’s response to the famous image of Earth as a tiny speck of light floating in a sunbeam—a shot he’d begged NASA to have the Voyager 1 spacecraft take in 1990 as it sailed into space, 3.7 billion miles from Earth. Sagan believed that if we had a photo of ourselves from this distance, it would forever alter our perspective of our place in the cosmos.
After saying a racial slur and being exiled from radio, Morgan Wallen has become only more popular. What’s going on?
It’s no exaggeration to say that one of the biggest artists in American music right now is a disgrace. Three weeks after the 27-year-old country singer Morgan Wallen said a racial slur on camera, his second studio album, Dangerous: The Double Album, is at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart. His singles have been bobbing in the country-music top 10 and the cross-genre Hot 100. Billboard’s ranking of the most popular artists in the United States had him in the top spot for five straight weeks. Thousands of people are, at this moment, streaming Wallen’s songs, buying his records, and watching his music videos—putting money in the pockets of someone who has admitted to saying one of the most noxious things imaginable.
We’ll never know for sure how contagious people are after they’re vaccinated, but we do know how they should act.
Every day, more than 1 million American deltoids are being loaded with a vaccine. The ensuing immune response has proved to be extremely effective—essentially perfect—at preventing severe cases of COVID-19. And now, with yet another highly effective vaccine on the verge of approval, that pace should further accelerate in the weeks to come.
This is creating a legion of people who no longer need to fear getting sick, and are desperate to return to “normal” life. Yet the messaging on whether they might still carry and spread the disease—and thus whether it’s really safe for them to resume their unmasked, un-distanced lives—has been oblique. Anthony Fauci said last week on CNN that “it is conceivable, maybe likely,” that vaccinated people can get infected with the coronavirus and then spread it to someone else, and that more will be known about this likelihood “in some time, as we do some follow-up studies.” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky had been no more definitive on Meet the Press a few days before, where she told the host, “We don’t have a lot of data yet to inform exactly the question that you’re asking.”
The GOP has become, in form if not in content, the Communist Party of the Soviet Union of the late 1970s.
We are living in a time of bad metaphors. Everything is fascism, or socialism; Hitler’s Germany, or Stalin’s Soviet Union. Republicans, especially, want their followers to believe that America is on the verge of a dramatic time, a moment of great conflict such as 1968—or perhaps, even worse, 1860. (The drama is the point, of course. No one ever says, “We’re living through 1955.”)
Ironically, the GOP is indeed replicating another political party in another time, but not as the heroes they imagine themselves to be. The Republican Party has become, in form if not in content, the Communist Party of the Soviet Union of the late 1970s.
I can already hear the howls about invidious comparisons. I do not mean that modern American Republicans are communists. Rather, I mean that the Republicans have entered their own kind of end-stage Bolshevism, as members of a party that is now exhausted by its failures, cynical about its own ideology, authoritarian by reflex, controlled as a personality cult by a failing old man, and looking for new adventures to rejuvenate its fortunes.
When the polio vaccine was declared safe and effective, the news was met with jubilant celebration. Church bells rang across the nation, and factories blew their whistles. “Polio routed!” newspaper headlines exclaimed. “An historic victory,” “monumental,” “sensational,” newscasters declared. People erupted with joy across the United States. Some danced in the streets; others wept. Kids were sent home from school to celebrate.
One might have expected the initial approval of the coronavirus vaccines to spark similar jubilation—especially after a brutal pandemic year. But that didn’t happen. Instead, the steady drumbeat of good news about the vaccines has been met with a chorus of relentless pessimism.
Side effects are just a sign that protection is kicking in as it should.
At about 2 a.m. on Thursday morning, I woke to find my husband shivering beside me. For hours, he had been tossing in bed, exhausted but unable to sleep, nursing chills, a fever, and an agonizingly sore left arm. His teeth chattered. His forehead was freckled with sweat. And as I lay next to him, cinching blanket after blanket around his arms, I felt an immense sense of relief. All this misery was a sign that the immune cells in his body had been riled up by the second shot of a COVID-19 vaccine, and were well on their way to guarding him from future disease.
Side effects are a natural part of the vaccination process, as my colleague Sarah Zhang has written. Not everyone will experience them. But the two COVID-19 vaccines cleared for emergency use in the United States, made by Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna, already have reputations for raising the hackles of the immune system: In both companies’clinical trials, at least a third of the volunteers ended up with symptoms such as headaches and fatigue; fevers like my husband’s were less common.
The Danish series John Dillermand makes a very big deal about a very big body part.
The world of Danish children’s television is not for the prudish. Kids who turn on the tube in Denmark might be greeted by gratuitous flatulence, cursing, casual nudity, or cross-dressing puppets. One show centers on a pipe-smoking pirate who wallops ninjas and flirts with Satanism. In another, an audience of 11-to-13-year-olds asks probing questions about the bodies of adults who disrobe before them. As Christian Groes, an anthropologist at Denmark’s Roskilde University, told me, Danish children’s television is not unlike an LSD trip: “Everything is possible in that universe,” he said, loosely quoting a friend, “and people won’t complain about it.”
But people did complain when the Danes debuted a kids’ animated series in January featuring a protagonist with an absurdly long, prehensile penis.
A guide to America’s awkward, semi-vaccinated months
The past 11 months have been a crash course in a million concepts that you probably wish you knew a whole lot less about. Particle filtration. Ventilation. Epidemiological variables. And, perhaps above all else, interdependence. In forming quarantine bubbles, in donning protective gear just to buy groceries, in boiling our days down to only our most essential interactions, people around the world have been shown exactly how linked their lives and health are. Now, as COVID-19 vaccines rewrite the rules of pandemic life once more, we are due for a new lesson in how each person’s well-being is inextricably tangled with others’.
This odd (and hopefully brief) chapter in which some Americans are fully vaccinated, but not enough of us to shield the wider population against the coronavirus’s spread, brings with it a whole new set of practical and ethical questions. If I’m vaccinated, can I travel freely? Can two vaccinated people from different households eat lunch together? If your parents are vaccinated but you’re not, can you see them inside? What if only one of them got both shots? What if one of them is a nurse on a COVID-19 ward?
The first way to fight a new virus would once have been opening the windows.
A few years ago, when I still had confidence in our modern ability to fight viruses, I pored over a photo essay of the 1918 flu pandemic. How quaint, I remember thinking, as I looked at people bundled up for outdoor classes and court and church. How primitive their technology, those nurses in gauze masks. How little did I know.
I felt secure, foolishly, in our 100 additional years of innovation. But it would soon become clear that our full-body hazmat suits and negative-pressure rooms and HEPA filters mattered little to Americans who couldn’t find N95 masks. In our quest for perfect solutions, we’d forgotten an extremely obvious and simple one: fresh air. A colleague joked, at one point, that things would have gone better in the pandemic if we still believed in miasma theory.
Getting a heat pump is one of the easiest ways for homeowners to fight climate change.
If you’re like me, you know that getting rid of your car is one of the best things you can do for the climate, and also that you will never do it. This is a car-oriented country, and a car-oriented time. But in 2019, the private cars and light trucks that ordinary people drive for work and shopping and leisure were responsible for about 15 percent of U.S. fossil-fuel-energy use. Electric vehicles get a lot of press, but less than 1 percent of energy used for transportation came from electricity. Personal transportation is a large contributor to carbon emissions in America; it’s also the hardest to give up.
But trading a gasoline automobile for an electric one (or for a bus or train) isn’t the only way ordinary citizens can contribute to fossil-fuel reduction. Decarbonization has two pillars: First, generate electricity from energy that does not emit carbon—renewable sources such as wind, solar, and geothermal instead of fossil fuels. That requires legislative and regulatory change. Second, use electricity to run as much of your personal life as possible.