Contents | October 2001

The Atlantic Monthly | October 2001
In This Issue

"For the American military," writes the Atlantic correspondent William Langewiesche in "Peace Is Hell," this month's cover story, "the apparently trivial problem of peacekeeping has recently proved to be more difficult even than waging war." Accompanying U.S. peacekeeping troops from stateside training through deployment to Bosnia, Langewiesche reports on the military's peacetime identity crisis and on what it takes—from insect repellent to Humvees to diplomacy—to police the post-Cold War world. Langewiesche has written for The Atlantic for a decade, on topics ranging from the Sahara Desert to wine tasting.

What does death mean to those who have observed it closely? Through interviews with a paramedic, a social worker, an undertaker, and a mother, Studs Terkel ("Will the Circle Be Unbroken?") offers four perspectives on death and dying. Terkel is the author of eleven books, including Working (1974) and "The Good War": An Oral History of World War II (1985), which won a Pulitzer Prize. He received the National Humanities Medal in 1997. "Will the Circle Be Unbroken?" is drawn from his book of the same name, to be published next month by New Press.

Although Americans were unaware of it at the time, the 1961 Berlin crisis brought the United States and the USSR uncomfortably close to nuclear war. And, as Fred Kaplan ("JFK's First-Strike Plan") reveals, newly available documents show that the Kennedy Administration drew up detailed plans to launch a "rational" nuclear first strike against the Soviet Union. Kaplan, the New York bureau chief of The Boston Globe, was formerly the Globe's national-security correspondent and Moscow bureau chief. He is the author of The Wizards of Armageddon (1983), a history of American nuclear strategy.

Karen Shepard ("Popular Girls") is a part-time lecturer in English at Williams College, in Massachusetts. Her fiction has appeared in Southwest Review and Mississippi Review. Shepard's first novel, An Empire of Women, was published last year.

D. Ellis Dickerson ("Ask Dave About Tic-Tac-Toe") is a doctoral candidate in the English program at Florida State University. He has made crossword puzzles for The New Yorker, The New York Times, and Games magazine.

In Notes & Dispatches this month: Wayne Curtis reports from Norman, Oklahoma, on the increasingly hard-core pursuit of the ultimate tornado video; the former World Bank chief economist Joseph Stiglitz from Addis Ababa, on why Third World nations may have good reason to distrust the International Monetary Fund; Michael Wise from Strasbourg, on the European Parliament's exhausting monthly shuttling between Belgium and France; James Fallows from Livermore, California, on how a consortium of computer-chip manufacturers has revived Moore's Law; and Gregg Easterbrook, emerging from a reading of The Chronicles of Narnia, on the latest threats to C. S. Lewis's imaginary kingdom—in the form of corporate marketers and PC critics.

From the southerly reaches of Chile to the cheap seats in Dodger Stadium, Atlantic contributors Ian Frazier, Jeffrey Tayler, Charles C. Mann, Benjamin and Christina Schwarz, William Langewiesche, Martha Spaulding, and James Fallows find their candidates for "The Most Beautiful Place in the World."

Alice Furlaud ("Civility vs. Civilité") explicates the polite underside of French "rudeness." For sixteen years Furlaud reported from France for National Public Radio, the BBC, and the CBC. An anthology of her radio features, Air Fair, was published in 1989.

Attu, the outermost of Alaska's Aleutian Islands, is the "Holy Grail of North American birding," John Fitchen ("Birding at the Edge") writes in his account of a nineteen-day pilgrimage to a hostile and all but inaccessible place. Fitchen, an academic physician as well as a birder, lives in Oregon.

Thomas Mallon ("Hustler With a Lyric Voice") reviews two new biographies of the libertine poet Edna St. Vincent Millay. Their intimate revelations, he predicts, will do little to shift the focus away from Millay's racy lifestyle and toward her ethereal love poems. Mallon is the author of the novel Two Moons (2000) and the collection In Fact: Essays on Writers and Writing (2001).

Perhaps no other period of French history has provoked as much critical inquiry as the German occupation of 1940-1944. Eugen Weber ("France's Downfall") reviews Julian Jackson's definitive study of one of France's bleakest and most controversial eras. Weber is a professor emeritus of modern European history at the University of California at Los Angeles. He is the author of numerous books, including My France: Politics, Culture, Myth (1992) and Action Française (1962).

Born to a family of German aristocrats just prior to World War I, and raised on the Côte d'Azur, the English writer Sybille Bedford saw the tumult of twentieth-century European history from an unusual and privileged vantage point. Brooke Allen ("An Observer of Catastrophe") looks at the strangeness and subtlety of four of Bedford's fictionalized memoirs on the occasion of their reissue. Allen is a frequent contributor to The New York Times Book Review, The Wall Street Journal, and The New Criterion.

Copyright © 2001 by The Atlantic Monthly Group. All rights reserved.
The Atlantic Monthly; October 2001; In This Issue; Volume 288, No. 3; 12.