Contents | February 2002

The Atlantic Monthly | February 2002
In This Issue

oday's fringe cult could be tomorrow's world religion. Toby Lester ("Oh, Gods!") surveys the rapidly evolving landscape of new religious movements. The century ahead, he predicts, will witness a period of unprecedented diversity. Lester, a senior editor of The Atlantic, has written two other cover stories for the magazine: "The New Privacy Space" (March 2001) and "What Is the Koran?" (January 1999).

In August of 1942, after a secret trial by a military tribunal, six Nazis were executed by the U.S. government for intent to commit sabotage. The case is being used by the Bush Administration as precedent for military courts in the cause of "homeland defense." Gary Cohen ("The Keystone Kommandos") recently delved into more than 3,000 pages of trial transcripts at the National Archives and the Roosevelt Presidential Library, in Hyde Park, New York, to unearth the story of their mission, capture, and trial. Cohen is a former member of the investigative unit at U.S. News & World Report.

Joshua Wolf Shenk ("Being Abe Lincoln") reports on a gathering of Abraham Lincoln presenters. Shenk's first book, The Melancholy of Abraham Lincoln, will be published next year.

What is evil? Ron Rosenbaum ("Degrees of Evil") takes up that ancient philosophical question, and explores the matter of evil's "hierarchies." Rosenbaum is the author of Explaining Hitler (1998) and a collection of nonfiction, The Secret Parts of Fortune (2000).

Admitting the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania into NATO would be a big mistake, writes Jeffrey Tayler ("The Next Threat to NATO"). Tayler argues that the region's ethnic volatility could undermine the stability of NATO as a whole. Tayler is the author of Siberian Dawn (1999) and Facing the Congo (2000). He is at work on a book about the Drâa Valley, in the Moroccan Sahara.

Beth Lordan ("Penumbra") 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.

This month in The Agenda: The Atlantic's editor, Michael Kelly, ponders the return of squareness; David Brooks, an Atlantic correspondent, wonders why the strongest nation in the world sometimes seems such a wee, sleekit, cow'rin', tim'rous beastie; Jack Beatty, a senior editor, argues that securing peace will require correcting the West's hypocritical and self-serving approach to globalization; Walter Kirn describes the establishment media's warped imagining of the Mountain West; Judge Richard A. Posner remarks on the unfortunate willingness of many academics to hold forth on topics they are unqualified to address; The Atlantic's national correspondent, James Fallows, looks at three civilian innovations that could teach the military a thing or two; our correspondent P. J. O'Rourke attends a victory protest; and Stephen Budiansky explains how advances in encryption software have rendered code breaking, the intelligence community's most reliable weapon, ineffective.

Many Americans have never even heard of the small French Caribbean islands of Marie Galante and Les Saintes, says Barbara Wallraff ("A Secret Caribbean"), and that's a shame, because these islands are magnifique. Wallraff, a senior editor of The Atlantic, writes the magazine's word columns, Word Fugitives and Word Court.

Joseph Epstein ("Early Riser") describes the simple pleasures and professional advantages of starting the day before dawn. Epstein's new book, Snobbery: The American Version, will be published by Houghton Mifflin this summer.

V. S. Naipaul, the winner of the 2001 Nobel Prize for Literature, has been called racist, neo-colonialist, anti-Muslim, and a right-wing reactionary—all for telling the unadorned truth in a politically correct era. So writes Geoffrey Wheatcroft ("A Terrifying Honesty") in an assessment of Naipaul's career. Wheatcroft's essays appear regularly in The Atlantic.

Thomas Mallon ("William Kennedy's Greatest Game") reviews the novel Roscoe, a spirited and engaging tale of postwar municipal politics. Mallon is a novelist and a critic. His new book of nonfiction, Mrs. Paine's Garage and the Murder of John F. Kennedy, was published last month.

He never shed his reputation as a second-rate writer, but Sinclair Lewis nonetheless proved to be one of the nation's most astute literary sociologists. Benjamin Schwarz ("Sheer Data"), a senior editor, reviews Richard Lingeman's new biography, Sinclair Lewis: Rebel From Main Street. Schwarz's most recent article for The Atlantic was last month's "A New Grand Strategy," with Christopher Layne.

The details of the composer Richard Rodgers's dispiriting family life may be as surprising as his music is familiar, observes Wilfrid Sheed ("Keeping Up Appearances") in his review of Meryle Secrest's revealing biography, Somewhere for Me. Two of Sheed's books, Max Jamison (1970), a novel, and The Morning After (1971), a collection of essays, were recently reissued by The Akadine Press.

Copyright © 2002 by The Atlantic Monthly Group. All rights reserved.
The Atlantic Monthly; February 2002; In This Issue; Volume 289, No. 2; 6.