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 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.
The women who busted a con man, refugee detectives in Germany, and why cartoonists struggle with drawing Trump. Plus the problem with Nancy Pelosi’s effectiveness, BLM meets sci-fi, an interview with Cory Booker, fiction by Mary Morris, and much more.
Why the Chinese love Trump, Paul Manafort and the corruption of U.S. politics, how we will feed the new global middle class, and why you should boycott the GOP. Plus, Mark Bowden revisits the world’s most body-conscious man, Caitlin Flanagan on Modesty Blaise, the failure of American democracy, fiction by Will Mackin, and more.
Russia’s election-hack gamble, God’s plan for Mike Pence, and the case against college for everyone. Plus, exoneration without DNA evidence, Eva Moskowitz’s charter-school revolution, the jellyfish apocalypse, and more.
In the aftermath of the January 6 riot, extremists have become obsessed with the federal agents who might lurk among them.
Updated at 9:15 a.m. E.T. on January 25, 2021
Judging by the actions of those who stormed the Capitol, far-right extremists don’t fear arrest. But they do fear one thing: glowies.
During the Trump administration, many far-right groups’ main concern was figuring out how to recruit more people to the cause. But as federal law-enforcement officials continue to round up people suspected of involvement in the January 6 insurrection at the Capitol, and Joe Biden’s administration promises a crackdown on white-supremacist and anti-government radicals, extremists are on the verge of a crack-up, posting widely and worriedly about spies in their midst—“glowies.” That’s the term far-right groups use to describe people they suspect of being federal law-enforcement agents or informants infiltrating their communication channels, trying to catch them plotting violence, or prodding them into illegal acts.
After growing up in a family that never lied, I spent decades being off-puttingly truthful.
When I was a child, my dad invented a game that I loved. Wherever we went, he’d predict what strangers were about to say or do. We’d walk into a store and he’d point at the salesman and say something like, “Watch this. When I tell him how much I’m willing to spend, he’ll immediately show me something more expensive.” The salesman did exactly as Dad had prophesized. When Dad took me to my first concert, he told me the musician would ask the audience how they were feeling tonight and, when everyone cheered wildly, would respond, “I can’t hear you!” It wasn’t long before the musician spoke those exact words.
It felt like magic, like Dad was telling the future or reading minds, so I asked how he did it. Most people follow a script, he said. I asked him why and I remember him replying, “Because they’re afraid that if they say what they really feel, people won’t like them. And they’d rather be liked than be honest.” I knew then that I wanted to be honest, regardless of the consequences. I stuck to that for the next 25 years. And there were consequences.
We’ve known about SARS-CoV-2 for only three months, but scientists can make some educated guesses about where it came from and why it’s behaving in such an extreme way.
One of the few mercies during this crisis is that, by their nature, individual coronaviruses are easily destroyed. Each virus particle consists of a small set of genes, enclosed by a sphere of fatty lipid molecules, and because lipid shells are easily torn apart by soap, 20 seconds of thorough hand-washing can take one down. Lipid shells are also vulnerable to the elements; a recent study shows that the new coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, survives for no more than a day on cardboard, and about two to three days on steel and plastic. These viruses don’t endure in the world. They need bodies.
But much about coronaviruses is still unclear. Susan Weiss, of the University of Pennsylvania, has been studying them for about 40 years. She says that in the early days, only a few dozen scientists shared her interest—and those numbers swelled only slightly after the SARS epidemic of 2002. “Until then people looked at us as a backward field with not a lot of importance to human health,” she says. But with the emergence of SARS-CoV-2—the cause of the COVID-19 disease—no one is likely to repeat that mistake again.
How typeface designers made room in The New York Times for the general-turned-president’s long last name.
Last Wednesday night, I was hanging around at home when a mysterious tweet crossed the transom.
“If anyone knows this it’s you,” the message said, with a link to another tweet that laid out a bit of a mystery:
“Rumor says in the 1950s, NYTimes created a special skinny ‘S’ so they could fit ‘EISENHOWER SAYS’ in one-column heds. True...?”
I was immediately intrigued. My Twitter pal had thought to include me not because I’m an expert in typography (I’m not), but because I spend an inordinate amount of time haunting various newspaper archives. (Evidence here, here, here, and here.)
But I’d never heard the legend of the Eisenhower ‘S.’ The rumor, Adam Lisberg told me in a follow-up tweet, came from a now-defunct copyediting newsletter he’d read in 1997, which is somehow (astonishingly) still preserved online. Under the delightful heading, “THE BURNED-OUT NEWSPAPERCREATURES GUILD'S NEWSLETTER,” is this anecdote attributed to Al JaCoby—presumably the longtime San Diego newspaperman who died in 2008.
She who dies with the most checked boxes wins, right? Wrong.
“How to Build a Life” is a column by Arthur Brooks, tackling questions of meaning and happiness. Starting today, the column will be published weekly on Thursday mornings.
I am an inveterate scorekeeper. I can go back decades and find lists of goals I set for myself to gauge “success” by certain milestone birthdays. For example, in my 20s, I had a to-do list for the decade, the items on which more or less told the story of a penniless musician who had made some dubious choices. It included quitting smoking, going to the dentist, mastering my pentatonic scales, and finishing college. (I hit them all, although the last one mere days before my 30th birthday.)
There is nothing unusual about this tendency to keep score. Google “30 things to do before you turn 30” and you will get more than 15,000 results. Researchers writing in the journal Psychological Science a few years ago observed that people are naturally motivated toward performance goals related to round numbers, and birthdays in particular can often act as landmarks to motivate self-improvement. We naturally seek outside sources of quantitative evidence of our progress and effectiveness—and, thus, our happiness.
The Capitol riot was a tragic farce, but the type of political violence it represents poses an existential threat to democracy.
The first impeachment of Donald Trump was an act of self-preservation by Democrats. The second is an act of self-preservation by Congress.
In 2019, the Democratic congressional leadership initially resisted the cries for impeachment that had been building since the party gained control of the House of Representatives; Speaker Nancy Pelosi memorably and ineffectually quipped that Trump was “almost self-impeaching” in May of that year.
But when a whistleblower revealed that Trump had attempted to strong-arm the leader of Ukraine into falsely implicating then-aspiring Democratic nominee Joe Biden in a crime, the House had to act. Allowing Trump to use his authority as president to coerce foreign leaders into doing his bidding would leave the country vulnerable to similar acts in the future. The sustained public attention to Trump’s corrupt motives also substantially neutralized his planned attack on Biden, who ultimately prevailed in November.
A devastating incident in Afghanistan shows the perils of relying on Special Operations alone to fight the nation’s battles.
Both the Trump and Obama administrations relied heavily on highly trained Special Forces units to keep Afghanistan from collapse. The strategy has kept recent episodes of the 21-year Afghan War out of the public eye, but it is failing to stabilize the country and is straining the United States military’s elite troops, who serve back-to-back combat tours without an end in sight and disproportionately give their lives in service of a war the public knows almost nothing about.
When Kunduz, a major city in northern Afghanistan, fell to the Taliban in 2015, U.S. Special Forces were dispatched on a secret mission to help Afghan commandos recapture it. Under-resourced and unprepared, the soldiers found themselves in the midst of a pitched battle with conflicting orders. The story of how it led to one of the U.S. military’s worst disasters in Afghanistan shows the perils of relying on Special Operations alone to fight the nation’s wars.
The post-Trump GOP is far more likely to put its differences aside than to split.
Less than six hours after rioters forced legislators to stop their debate over certifying the electors from Arizona on January 6, senators were back on the floor again. The insurrection failed to stop Congress from playing its constitutional role in certifying Joe Biden as the next president.
That may be a metaphor for the resilience of American institutions under assault, but the Senate’s quick return to business also shows that the antidemocratic attitudes of the protesters were nothing new to the chamber. Indeed, the debate over whether to accept the outcome of a presidential election was only happening at the Capitol because a faction of the Republican Party had already embraced the same grievances as the rioters.
Xi Jinping hasn’t just cracked down on private business—he is targeting individual entrepreneurs themselves.
On March 11, 2007, Xi Jinping, then the top Communist Party official in Zhejiang province, near Shanghai, had dinner with the U.S. ambassador to China. The meal was part of the embassy’s outreach to up-and-coming Chinese officials. Xi, 53, was reputed to be among three officials in the running to replace Hu Jintao, China’s dour-faced leader.
Ambassador Clark T. “Sandy” Randt, a classmate of President George W. Bush, was impressed with Xi. In a cable recounting the dinner, Randt described the discussion as “frank and friendly.” Xi, as he always did with Americans, had lauded Hollywood movies and, fittingly for the party boss from a province that was a hotbed of entrepreneurial energy, praised a new law that would protect private investors in China. Xi came off as a self-confident rising star, and a supporter of private business.
Millions of Americans sympathize with the Capitol insurrection. Everyone else must figure out how to live alongside them.
They could be real-estate agents or police officers, bakers or firefighters, veterans of American wars or CEOs of American companies. They might live in Boise or Dallas, College Park or College Station, Sacramento or Delray Beach. Some are wealthy. Some are not. Relatively few of them were at the United States Capitol on January 6, determined to stop Congress from certifying a legitimate election. Millions more cheered the rioters on—and still do.
As a group, it’s hard to know what to call them. They are too many to merit the term extremists. There are not enough of them to be secessionists. Some prominent historians and philosophers have been arguing for a revival of the word fascist; others think white supremacist is more appropriate, though there could also be a case for rebel. For want of a better term, I’m calling all of them seditionists—not just the people who took part in the riot, but the far larger number of Americans who are united by their belief that Donald Trump won the election, that Joe Biden lost, and that a long list of people and institutions are lying about it: Congress, the media, Mike Pence, the election officials in all 50 states, and the judges in dozens of courts.