Contents | September 2001

The Atlantic Monthly | September 2001
In This Issue

In the increasingly competitive contest for admission to the nation's most selective colleges, how much is applying "early decision" worth? About 100 SAT points, reports James Fallows, The Atlantic's national correspondent, in this month's cover story ("The Early-Decision Racket"). Fallows explores the enormous and problematic growth in the popularity of early-admissions programs, and why colleges, college counselors, and students themselves would benefit from getting rid of the programs altogether. Fallows's most recent book, Free Flight: From Airline Hell to a New Age of Travel, was published in June.

Caitlin Flanagan ("Confessions of a Prep School College Counselor") analyzes the upper-middle class's neurotic fixation on admissions to elite colleges and surveys the perennial crop of guides that feed the frenzy. Flanagan's article on the origins and the allure of tabloids appeared in the July/August issue.

Garrison Keillor ("Lake Wobegon Summer 1956") conjures the paradise lost of a Minnesota boyhood filled with baseball, family secrets, and tomatoes eaten warm off the vine. Keillor is the creator and host of the Minnesota Public Radio program A Prairie Home Companion. "Lake Wobegon Summer 1956" is drawn from his novel of the same name, to be published this month by Viking.

Postmortem accounts of the Clinton Administration's response to the genocide in Rwanda have characterized the Administration as either willfully complicit with evil or ignorant of a monumental and unstoppable calamity. Neither is accurate, writes Samantha Power ("Bystanders to Genocide"). Power, who spent three years sifting through newly declassified cables and interviewing White House, State Department, and Defense Department officials involved in crafting U.S. policy at the time, paints a vivid and disturbing picture of a risk-averse bureaucracy unprepared to confront a colossal crime. Power is the executive director of the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy, at Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government. Her article in this issue is drawn from her forthcoming book, A Problem From Hell: America and the Age of Genocide, to be published next March by Basic/New Republic Books.

Beth Lordan ("Digging") is the director of the creative-writing program at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. She is the author of the short-story collection And Both Shall Row (1998). Her story "The Man With the Lapdog," which appeared in the February, 1999, Atlantic, received an O. Henry Award.

In Notes & Dispatches this month: Michael Erard reports from Toronto, on one man's crusade to clean up the closed-captioning industry; Stephen Bodio from Bombay, on the mysterious and troubling decline of India's most efficient garbage man, the vulture; the NASA administrator, Daniel Goldin, from Washington, D.C., on America's shrinking pool of experienced scientists; Mark Schapiro from Bogotá, on a mayor's dramatic attempts to revive civic spirit by turning his city into performance art; and Jeff Spurrier from Los Angeles, on a day-long SWAT-team siege next door.

Andalusia, the heart of Islamic Spain, was once home to sultans and scientists alike. Cullen Murphy ("Tales of the Alhambra") explores the streets of Granada and Córdoba, cities with deep Muslim roots. Murphy is the managing editor of The Atlantic. He is at work on a book about the Inquisition.

This year will most likely answer a pressing question: Is the suit dead—or is it merely resting? William Hamilton ("Suitably Attired") comments on the peculiar endurance of one of modern fashion's very few constants. Hamilton draws cartoons for The New Yorker and The New York Observer, and has written five plays and four novels, including the forthcoming Jerry Grew.

Freshly dug heirloom potatoes, available at farmers' markets through next month, are ideal for making German potato salad, a surprisingly light, tangy, intensely flavored alternative to the mayonnaise-slathered salads often found at picnics. Corby Kummer ("Potato Salad") offers recipes and a plug for a largely misunderstood complement to the salad: salted herring. Kummer is a senior editor of The Atlantic.

For years American readers have been woefully unfamiliar with the novels of Dawn Powell, a writer whose contradictory blend of sincerity and cynicism defies easy categorization. Philip Hensher ("The Country and the City") reviews The Library of America's newly released two-volume edition of Powell's works. Hensher is the author of three novels, including Kitchen Venom (1996), which won the Somerset Maugham Award. His novel The Mulberry Empire will be published next year.

For the more than 200 years since the publication of his Life of Johnson, James Boswell has assured his subject a measure of literary immortality. Most readers, though, know comparatively little about Boswell himself. Miranda Seymour ("Bozzy's Life") reviews Boswell's Presumptuous Task, Adam Sisman's lively portrait of literature's most famous hanger-on. Seymour's biography of Mary Shelley will be published in the United States in September.

Copyright © 2001 by The Atlantic Monthly Group. All rights reserved.
The Atlantic Monthly; September 2001; In This Issue; Volume 288, No. 2; 10.