Inside The Atlantic's Annual Ideas Issue

The feature stories, dispatches, columns, and original fiction in The Atlantic's annual Ideas issue include: 

"Why Women Still Can't Have It All"
It's time to stop fooling ourselves, says Anne-Marie Slaughter: the women who have managed to be both mothers and top professionals are superhuman, rich, or self-employed. Slaughter, who was the first female director of policy planning at the State Department, serving from 2009 to 2011, left her foreign-policy dream job after she realized that juggling high-level government work with the needs of her two teenage sons was not possible. She returned to academic life at Princeton University and now, speaking out for the first time, she says that if we truly believe in equal opportunity for all women, we must make fundamental changes in the workplace, our families, and society. Here's her plan for how to do that.  
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Digital exclusive: Slaughter discusses her cover story with The Atlantic's Hanna Rosin in a video interview. Plus, join the online conversation about the piece using #HavingItAll on Twitter. 

The 2012 Ideas List
The Atlantic presents its annual compendium of prescriptions, provocations, and modest proposals for making the world a better place. Check out 23 ½ big ideas--from banning gasoline and hiring introverts to abolishing the secret ballot and befriending Islamists.
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Jersey Boys
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is a diehard Bruce Springsteen fan: he's attended more than 100 of his concerts and knows every word to every song. Yet despite heroic efforts by the governor, Springsteen, who's a New Jersey resident, will not talk to him. Jeffrey Goldberg accompanied Christie to his 129th concert and talked at length about politics, rock and roll, and this unrequited love. 
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Digital exclusive: Christie shares his favorite songs by the Boss. 
The Measured Man
Larry Smarr, an astrophysicist turned computer scientist, has a new project: charting his every bodily function in minute detail. What started as a mission to lose weight has evolved into a quest to understand the human body--his body--from the inside out. As Mark Bowden finds, Smarr may be charting the future of health care.
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Digital exclusive: Smarr shows off his living laboratory--yep, his insides--at his research center at the University of California.

Hell on Bicycle Wheels
Olympic athletes descending upon London, beware. Longtime cyclist Lionel Shriver has biked dozens of American states and all over western Europe, and nowhere else has she encountered a cycling culture so cutthroat, vicious, reckless, hostile, and violently competitive as the U K.'s capital city. 
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Olympic Idol
As Londoners prepare to open this summer's Olympics, Britain's selection for the cauldron-lighter is a tightly held secret. As always, the chosen man or woman--almost certainly an athlete, according to Ed Caesar's well-placed source--is the host nation's opportunity to project its desired image to the world. 
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Digital exclusive: View a photo gallery of past Olympic torchbearers, a role steeped in history and national pride.
World's Worst Traffic Jam
Joshua Hammer assumed that a 40-mile trip to Lagos, a Nigerian metropolis of 21 million people, would be a routine commute. Twelve hours later, it had become a lesson in the dysfunction and criminality of Africa's most populous nation. 
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The Last Days of Foie Gras
On July 1, California's foie gras ban will go into effect, devastating chefs, gourmands, and Ed Leibowitz. Will the culinary community obey the law or, as some members have already threatened, defy it?  
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When the pro wrestler Abdullah the Butcher steps into the ring, fans know they're guaranteed to see at least one bloodied wrestler, and most likely two. Known for his fork-wielding, madman antics, Abdullah shares his trade secrets with Graeme Wood, who, we're happy to report, escaped the interview unscathed--more or less. 
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The Right Spacesuit
Later this summer, the Austrian skydiver Felix Baumgartner plans to jump from 120,000 feet, a distance far greater than ever attempted--or survived--before. Central to his success will be a new space suit, an improvement on what shuttle astronauts wear. Andrew Zaleski wonders: If we used to dream of going to the moon, could we one day jump from it?
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The Triumph of the Family Farm
If you're part of the 99 percent of the North American population that doesn't work on a farm, chances are, you've heard about the passing of the good old days in rural areas and the inevitable loss of the homestead. But, as Chrystia Freeland reports, farming is actually in the midst of a startling renaissance--one that holds important lessons for America's economic future. 
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A Long, Strange Trip
For decades, James Parker avoided the Grateful Dead. Sure, he's an entertainment writer, but the music itself has always had a sort of negative cultural presence: minimal airplay, no sing-alongs, little risk of accidental exposure. Give Parker one week and a recently released 14-DVD box set, and it turns out he's a Deadhead after all.  
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Jackie and the Girls
Caitlin Flanagan has always had a complicated relationship with John F. Kennedy: On the one hand, she's drawn in by images of a loving family man; on the other hand, she's repelled by stories of philandering that dog him to this day. Flanagan's JFK problem is Jacqueline Kennedy's, and ours, too. 
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Digital exclusive: Flanagan will participate in a live chat about the enduring fascination with the Kennedys on July 9, 2012 on


"Ice Man," by Elmore Leonard
Victor was at the bar celebrating his win: Top Bull Rider at the All-Indian National Rodeo, $4,000, and a new saddle. But he was no match for the ICE agent, who detained him and his buddies for "mouthin' off." 
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Digital exclusive: Leonard discusses bad movies and good writing in a video talk with The Atlantic's James Parker.
These articles and more are featured in the July/August issue of The Atlantic, available today, June 21, 2012, on and newsstands.

About The Atlantic
Since its founding in 1857 as a magazine about "the American Idea" that would be of "no party or clique," The Atlantic has been at the forefront of brave thinking in journalism. One of the first magazines to launch on the web in the early 1990s, The Atlantic has continued to help shape the national debate across print, digital and event platforms. With the addition of its news- and opinion-tracking site,, and, The Atlantic is a multi-media forum on the most critical issues of our times, from politics, business, and the economy, to technology, arts, and culture. The Atlantic is the flagship property of Washington, D.C.-based publisher Atlantic Media Company.