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 new political correctness is ruining education, Ta-Nehisi Coates’s letter to his son, stopping murder in New Orleans, the GOP rewrites the Iraq War, bracing for the future in Havana, the elitist allure of Joan Didion, and more
The money issue: Starbucks’ radical attempt to save the middle class, the financially savvy Millennial, underpaid NBA players, the neuroscience of generosity, where drug lords put their money, and more
The Technology Issue: Why kids sext (and what to do about it), the new technology of adultery, what Silicon Valley's best minds think about everything from drones to Uber, the Steve Jobs of beer, and more
How for-profit universities are tearing down higher ed, the cocaine dealer who reinvented himself as a community leader, why climate hysterics hurt their own cause, the Cesarean-industrial complex, Murakami’s mysterious literary appeal, and more
To understand how viewing habits have changed, consider the difference between the couch show and the phone show.
At 10 p.m. on the final Wednesday of May, shrouded in the darkness of our basement, my wife and I did something we used to do quite often, but now—in the 23rd year of our marriage—we do only rarely.
We sat on our couch and watched a television show at the time it aired.
The occasion: The series finale of The Americans, FX’s gripping six-season Cold War drama. Although this was the first episode we’d viewed at its scheduled hour, we’d seen every other episode—all 72 of them. And we’d treated them with a reverence denied to most other television programming. We watched these episodes together—days or weeks after the official air date—while sitting on the couch.
In our household, The Americans is what we call a “couch show.” We record it or stream it and go to a specified place, the Pink family basement, to view it on a large screen. For the last few years, live sports notwithstanding, Better Call Saul is the only other program that qualifies for such loving premeditation and deliberateness. But these two shows are not the only ones I watch regularly. Not by a long shot. I’m also a big fan of Veep, Atlanta, Barry, Billions, and Silicon Valley. I’ve watched nearly all the episodes of all of these shows, but almost never while sitting on my couch. These I’ve watched on my phone or tablet in the interstitial moments of my life—a long wait at an airport gate, a late-night Uber ride, and so on. I call these “phone shows.”
America’s largest Protestant group moves to cut ties with the Republican Party and re-engage with mainstream culture.
It was immediately clear that change was afoot in Dallas. I’ve attended the annual gatherings of the Southern Baptist Convention dozens of times, but walking around the convention center this week, I was struck by how unfamiliar it all felt. When I was a child, the convention hall was a sea of silver combovers and smelled of denture paste. While the older, more traditionalist crowd was still present in Dallas, the younger, fresh-faced attendees now predominated.
“The generational shift happening in the SBC has thrust the group into the middle of an identity crisis,” says Barry Hankins, chair of the department of history at Baylor University and co-author of Baptists in America: A History. “The younger generation thinks differently than the old guard Christian right about culture and politics, and they are demanding change.”
The epidemics of the early 21st century revealed a world unprepared, even as the risks continue to multiply. Much worse is coming.
Image above: Workers at the University of Nebraska Medical Center's biocontainment unit practicing safe procedure on a mannequin
At 6 o’clock in the morning, shortly after the sun spills over the horizon, the city of Kikwit doesn’t so much wake up as ignite. Loud music blares from car radios. Shops fly open along the main street. Dust-sprayed jeeps and motorcycles zoom eastward toward the town’s bustling markets or westward toward Kinshasa, the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s capital city. The air starts to heat up, its molecules vibrating with absorbed energy. So, too, the city.
By late morning, I am away from the bustle, on a quiet, exposed hilltop some five miles down a pothole-ridden road. As I walk, desiccated shrubs crunch underfoot and butterflies flit past. The only shade is cast by two lines of trees, which mark the edges of a site where more than 200 people are buried, their bodies piled into three mass graves, each about 15 feet wide and 70 feet long. Nearby, a large blue sign says in memory of the victims of the ebola epidemic in may 1995. The sign is partly obscured by overgrown grass, just as the memory itself has been occluded by time. The ordeal that Kikwit suffered has been crowded out by the continual eruption of deadly diseases elsewhere in the Congo, and around the globe.
Hotels are being forced to figure out how to work with a new class of brand-peddling marketers.
Three years ago, Lisa Linh quit her full-time job to travel the world and document it on Instagram, where she has nearly 100,000 followers; since then, she has stayed in breathtaking hotels everywhere from Mexico to Quebec to the Cook Islands. Often, she stays for free.
Linh is part of an ever-growing class of people who have leveraged their social media clout to travel the world, frequently in luxury. While Linh and other elite influencers are usually personally invited by hotel brands, an onslaught of lesser-known wannabes has left hotels scrambling to deal with a deluge of requests for all-expense-paid vacations in exchange for some social media posts.
Kate Jones, marketing and communications manager at the Dusit Thani, a five-star resort in the Maldives, said that her hotel receives at least six requests from self-described influencers per day, typically through Instagram direct message.
When it comes to children’s development, parents should worry less about kids’ screen time—and more about their own.
Smartphones have by now been implicated in so many crummy outcomes—car fatalities, sleep disturbances, empathy loss, relationship problems, failure to notice a clown on a unicycle—that it almost seems easier to list the things they don’t mess up than the things they do. Our society may be reaching peak criticism of digital devices.
Even so, emerging research suggests that a key problem remains underappreciated. It involves kids’ development, but it’s probably not what you think. More than screen-obsessed young children, we should be concerned about tuned-out parents.
Yes, parents now have more face time with their children than did almost any parents in history. Despite a dramatic increase in the percentage of women in the workforce, mothers today astoundingly spend more time caring for their children than mothers did in the 1960s. But the engagement between parent and child is increasingly low-quality, even ersatz. Parents are constantly present in their children’s lives physically, but they are less emotionally attuned. To be clear, I’m not unsympathetic to parents in this predicament. My own adult children like to joke that they wouldn’t have survived infancy if I’d had a smartphone in my clutches 25 years ago.
Democrats want to highlight Trump scandals in their push for Congress this fall—just not the one that has dominated headlines and threatens his presidency.
Democrats are planning to make the scandals surrounding President Trump a key part of their pitch to recapture the House majority this fall. But the one that’s overshadowed all others—Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian collusion—is the presidential controversy that Democratic leaders view as the least politically potent on the campaign trail.
The party sees corruption, not collusion, as the scandal-related message that will resonate most in the midterm elections—a way to connect the seemingly daily controversies of the Trump administration with the Republican Congress’s policies on health care and taxes that polls show are unpopular with the electorate.
“Instead of delivering on his promise to drain the swamp, President Trump has become the swamp,” Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said as she stood alongside other Democratic leaders on the steps of the Capitol last month to unveil a new anti-corruption plank in the party’s 2018 platform. “Republicans, the White House, and the Congress are cravenly beholden to big money interests, and the American people are paying the price.”
The class divide is already toxic, and is fast becoming unbridgeable. You’re probably part of the problem.
1. The Aristocracy Is Dead …
For about a week every year in my childhood, I was a member of one of America’s fading aristocracies. Sometimes around Christmas, more often on the Fourth of July, my family would take up residence at one of my grandparents’ country clubs in Chicago, Palm Beach, or Asheville, North Carolina. The breakfast buffets were magnificent, and Grandfather was a jovial host, always ready with a familiar story, rarely missing an opportunity for gentle instruction on proper club etiquette. At the age of 11 or 12, I gathered from him, between his puffs of cigar smoke, that we owed our weeks of plenty to Great-Grandfather, Colonel Robert W. Stewart, a Rough Rider with Teddy Roosevelt who made his fortune as the chairman of Standard Oil of Indiana in the 1920s. I was also given to understand that, for reasons traceable to some ancient and incomprehensible dispute, the Rockefellers were the mortal enemies of our clan.
What if the urban visions of famous architects and planners had actually been built?
It was a bright summer morning in 1940. As Paris emptied of people, a single panic-stricken thought swept through the chaos of the crowds: Il y a péril en la demeure—there is danger in delay. The thief thought so too, though in a different sense. He watched as the families scrambled onto trains bound for no particular destination, just anywhere south of the capital, out of reach of the advancing Germans. He left the station by another exit, the secret pocket in the lining of his jacket already full. Closing his eyes briefly, he felt the sun on his face. Then he headed for the river and the rows of cross-shaped, residential-tower blocks on the horizon.
He passed over the vast green spaces between the towers. He was old enough to remember when this area had been called Le Marais. It had been full of ramshackle old shopfronts, Russian accents, synagogues. All gone now, bulldozed and dynamited, replaced by Le Corbusier’s monumental modernist vision of concrete, steel, and glass. They’d even moved some of the centuries-old churches and palaces elsewhere, among them the Church of Saint-Gervais-et-Saint-Protais and the Hôtel de Beauvais. He paused on a bridge above a highway; one side was stuck fast with traffic and furious terrified runaways, the other deserted. The sound of horns, shouts, and engines faded as he approached the building. The lobby was empty. The corridors were deserted.
With Everything Is Love, pop’s biggest couple celebrates itself—and its significance to America.
The marriage rate remains low, but Jay-Z and Beyoncé are doing their best to keep wedlock fashionable. On Everything Is Love, the joint album the couple surprise-released on Saturday, their union again glitters as a luxury item as covetable as their Alaïa boots and Aruba vacations. Even the fact that they nearly broke up comes off as a form of conspicuous consumption. “He went to Jared, I went to J.A.R. out in Paris,” Jay-Z raps. Beyoncé’s reply: “Yeah, you fucked up the first stone, we had to get remarried.” (Adorably, it continues. Jay: “Yo, chill man.” Bey: “We keepin’ it real with these people, right?”)
Everything Is Love represents the long-awaited with-our-powers-combined capstone from the megacouple who, in their album credits, call themselves The Carters. After marrying in 2008 amid successful individual careers, Jay-Z and Beyoncé embarked on a 2014 arena tour beset by rumors of Jay-Z’s infidelity that appeared to be confirmed by two separate confessional albums, her Lemonade in 2016and his 4:44in 2017. Now, their joint narrative arc—a masterful conflation of art, commerce, and gossip—has culminated in a second arena tour and a surprise full-length album. Its nine songs (plus one non-album single) offer solid summer-fun fodder whose infectious glee comes with moments of throat-tightening emotion—not unlike at a wedding party.