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DECEMBER 1998 | Volume 282 No. 6
mcvs9812 picture The Prison-Industrial Complex

The number of Americans behind bars is now larger than the prison population in all of China -- and it continues to grow, even as violent crime rates fall. The economies of whole regions have been skewed toward incarceration, and the job of incarceration is increasingly being handed over to private companies. America's prison-industrial complex, the author argues, is rapidly corrupting the criminal-justice system.

by Eric Schlosser

Lost in Translation

"A penny, which becomes secured, is an acquired penny" -- behold the metamorphosis of one familiar saying, after a computer-aided excursion from English into German and back. But computer programs that can translate are actually getting to be quite good.

by Stephen Budiansky

America's Maginot Line

The development of ballistic missiles that any country can obtain threatens to make America's military presence in Asia untenable.

by Paul Bracken
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Notes & Comment: Back to Basics
Some of the steps toward a more satisfying political life may be surprisingly simple.
by Cullen Murphy

Personal File: Neshering
The intimate jumble of a shared taxicab ride in Israel. "We have put our trust in him," the author writes of a typical Nesher Company cabbie. "Here in the Middle East that is no trivial act."
by Edith Pearlman

Foreign Affairs: Hoods Against Democrats
"Within twenty-four hours of crossing into Bulgaria by train from Romania," the author recalls, "I began hearing two words over and over again: 'wrestlers' and 'groupings.'" Both of these terms refer to a new type of crime syndicate that is operating in the former Communist world.
by Robert D. Kaplan

Humor, Fiction, & Poetry

seahorse picture Invention
A poem
by Billy Collins

Today Is Sunday
A short story
by Peter Ho Davies

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  • Web-Only: On the Sly
    An Atlantic Unbound interview with Peter Ho Davies.

    seahorse picture Crepe Myrtles
    A poem
    by Cathy Smith Bowers

    Browse and search The Atlantic's online archive.

  • Arts & Leisure

    Travel: An Old-fashioned Christmas
    Savoring the holiday season in Salzburg and Vienna.
    by Corby Kummer

    Music: Mahler's Unfinished Symphony
    We can now hear several versions of Mahler's Tenth, a work that should at last be recognized as among the composer's greatest.
    by William H. Youngren


    Dirty Hands
    Our Own Backyard: The United States in Central America, 1977-1992, by William M. LeoGrande
    by Benjamin Schwarz

    Brief Reviews
    by Phoebe-Lou Adams

    Other Departments

    77 North Washington Street


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    The December Almanac

    The Puzzler
    by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon

    Word Watch
    by Anne H. Soukhanov

    The seahorse symbol indicates that an article is supplemented with audio, an author interview, or other Web-only sidebar.

    All material copyright © 1998 by The Atlantic Monthly Company. All rights reserved.
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