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THE ATLANTIC MONTHLY | Volume 292 No. 2 | September 2003
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September 2003 cover Letters to the Editor

The Agenda
People Like Us  We all pay lip service to the melting pot, but we really prefer the congealing pot
by David Brooks

Four More Years?  The man who challenged the first President Bush considers the second President Bush—and the invincibility question
by Patrick J. Buchanan

The One-Term Tradition  A second term has often proved to be the nemesis of presidential reputation. George W. Bush should beware
by Jack Beatty

What's My Next Setup?  A cartoon by Steve Brodner

Primary Sources  Selections from recent reports, studies, and other documents. This month: Osama bin Laden and Jacques Chirac voted able "to do the right thing"; the coming suburban ghetto?; why the Vikings would have liked global warming

The Nation in Numbers  Up in the Air
by Michael Calabrese and J. H. Snider


Anarchy at Sea
The sea is a domain increasingly beyond government control, vast and wild, where laws of nations mean little and secretive shipowners do as they please—and where the resilient pathogens of piracy and terrorism flourish
by William Langewiesche

Close-Up: The Age of Murdoch
Many see him as a power-mad, rapacious right-wing vulgarian. What really drives Rupert Murdoch, though, is not ideology but a cool concern for the bottom line—and the belief that the media should be treated like any other business, not as a semi-sacred public trust. The Bush Administration agrees. Rupert Murdoch has seen the future, and it is him
by James Fallows

Founders Chic
Interest in the Founding Fathers has risen and fallen over time, but it's probably fair to say that their stock is currently at an all-time high. And this should worry us
by H. W. Brands
An Interview With H. W. Brands: Ordinary People
H. W. Brands argues that too much reverence for the Founding Fathers is unhealthy—and that it's time to take them down a notch or two [Web only]
E.T. and God
Could earthly religions survive the discovery of life elsewhere in the universe?
by Paul Davies


Back to School  A drawing by Edward Sorel

TV  A poem by John Updike

Silent Heart Attack  A poem by Stanley Plumly [audio]

Mudlavia  A short story by Elizabeth Stuckey-French

To Smoke  A poem by W. S. Merwin
To a Tortoiseshell Lyre  A poem by W. S. Merwin


Books and Critics
New & Noteworthy
What to read this month
reviewed by Benjamin Schwarz

Housewife Confidential
"Lady, you are the problem," a member of the women's liberation movement once wrote to the syndicated columnist Erma Bombeck—a view that today has become conventional wisdom. "In fact, she was not," our author argues emphatically, in a tribute to Bombeck and the women she championed
by Caitlin Flanagan

A new biography of Lucille Ball
reviewed by Mona Simpson

Charles Baxter's new novel brings back some old friends
reviewed by James Marcus

Where the Twain Should Have Met
Born into an Anglican Palestinian family, raised in Jerusalem and Cairo, educated at Ivy League universities, and well established as a professor of English and comparative literature at Columbia, the cosmopolitan Edward Said was ideally placed to explain East to West and West to East. What went wrong?
reviewed by Christopher Hitchens

California Catholics
Maile Meloy's first novel uses gaudy old-time religion to string together a sweeping family narrative
reviewed by Thomas Mallon


Pursuits and Retreats
Ideas whose time has come, unfortunately
by Cullen Murphy

Settling accounts in the vacuum of postwar Iraq
by Tish Durkin

The Puzzler by Emily Cox and Henry Rathvon

Word Court by Barbara Wallraff

Cover art by Marc Yankus.

All material copyright © 2003 by The Atlantic Monthly Group. All rights reserved.