The April 2015 issue of The Atlantic is now available online—with key pieces summarized and provided below:
Cover Story: “Is It Time for the Jews to Leave Europe?”
For half a century, the searing memories of the Holocaust inoculated Europe against overt anti-Semitism. That period has ended—the recent fatal attacks in Paris and Copenhagen are merely the latest in a mounting tide. Last year, France’s Jewish minority, which constitutes less than 1 percent of the population, was the target of the majority of the country’s racist attacks; more than half of British Jews say they fear Jews have no future in their own country. National correspondent Jeffrey Goldberg asks whether the time has come, just less than 70 years after the Allies declared victory in Europe, for the Jews to leave the continent—and, if so, where they should go. The poignant and powerful piece is the result of a year of travel and reporting in Europe, where Goldberg spoke with leaders, students, and heads of state—including David Cameron and Manuel Valls. In every country he visited, Jews described persecution, discrimination, hatred, and fear. NOTE: Goldberg will discuss his reporting with Atlantic co-president and editor in chief James Bennet during an event at Sixth & I in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, April 7.
Features and Essay:
“The False Gospel of Alcoholics Anonymous”: Alcoholics Anonymous has earned a reputation as the treatment for alcohol addiction in the U.S., and its faith-based 12-step program dominates the rehab industry. But, as Gabrielle Glaser reports, there is no definitive scientific evidence that 12-step treatments work, and a comprehensive review of treatment approaches ranks AA 38th out of 48 methods. Glaser dismantles the widespread acceptance of AA, arguing that "nowhere in the field of medicine is treatment less grounded in modern science." She makes the case that alcohol dependence is an illness, not a moral failing, and points to alternative treatment approached widely accepted (and successful) beyond the U.S. NOTE: Glaser will be interviewed about her feature at The Atlantic Health Forum on March 18 in Washington, D.C.
“Solving the Riddle of Near-Death Experiences”: A growing body of research on near-death experiences seeks to better understand the nature of consciousness—both during life and, more mysteriously, after death. Some people who have reached the brink of death and lived to tell chill-inducing stories of floating outside their bodies; spending time in a beautiful, otherworldly realm; encountering long-lost relatives, even meeting God. But is this phenomenon a sign of life after death, or simply the result of an oxygen-deprived brain? Quartz editor Gideon Lichfield explores the perplexing field of near-death experience research and the ever growing debate pitting complex science against the divine. He writes that near-death experiences are "perhaps the only spiritual experience that we have a chance of investigating in a truly thorough, scientific way... a lens through which to peer at the workings of consciousness—one of the great mysteries of human existence for the most resolute materialist."
“Why Workers Won't Unite”: Globalization and technology have gutted the labor movement, and part-time work is sabotaging solidarity. So how to challenge the politics of inequality? Kim Phillips-Fein writes about today’s labor-movement decline, widely considered an irreversible reality. If strikers of yesteryear could have time traveled to Occupy Wall Street in Zuccotti Park, they might well have wondered: Where are the unions?
Government: “Clones on the Court”: The résumés of the nine sitting Supreme Court justices follow the same formula: all attended elite colleges, followed by law school at Harvard or Yale; most clerked for a judge in the Northeast; and when Samuel Alito replaced Sandra Day O’Connor in 2006, every justice had been a sitting, federal, circuit-court judge at the time of his or her appointment. Yale Law professor Akhil Reed Amar argues that this is a mistake—and that uniformity has no precedent on the country’s highest court. In fact, before 2005, the Court always had at least one member with no prior judicial experience.
Health: “As They Lay Dying”: The donation of organs by living, terminally ill patients is one condemned by many doctors and met with controversy. A donor death after surgery, even in someone terminally ill, can lead to investigations and very public black marks on hospitals’ transplant programs. Transplant surgeons Joshua Mezrich and Joseph Scalea describe the many challenges at play, and whether the medical community should implement new ethical standards—ones that could save lives and bring comfort to patients and families dealing with devastating situations.
Shifts: Technology: “How You'll Buy Things in the Future”: You might already pay for your morning coffee, among other goods, by scanning your phone. Soon enough, your face may be all that's needed to procure that nonfat latte. From retinal scanning to private currencies and smartphone payments, staff writer Alana Semuels explores the technologies that could transform the future of commerce, rendering paper money and traditional banks obsolete.
Wordplay: “Meet the New Bitch”: One of the oldest ways to insult a woman in English has taken on unexpected and strangely positive connotations. Boston Globe word columnist Britt Peterson tracks the evolution of bitch from the 15th century to Hemingway to Madonna.
Sketch: “The Sniffer": Nancy Fraley's business card reads simply, "Nosing Services." Her job: to smell liquor from craft distilleries to tell them what they're doing right or wrong and to suggest ways to blend elements that people with an average nose could never detest. Contributing editor Wayne Curtis profiles the woman who owns this superhuman sense of smell to find out how her one-of-a-kind talents pays off.
Study of Studies: "Diner Beware": From the obvious (plate color and size, mood lighting) to the more subtle (buffet price, server hair color), associate editor Bourree Lam explains how restaurants trick you into eating less and spending more.
From the Culture File:
The Omnivore: “The Most Unlikely Saint”: Contributing editor James Parker examines the case for canonizing G.K. Chesterton, the bombastic man of letters and paradoxical militant for God.
Books: “Being Barney Frank”: Michael Tomasky examines former Congressman Barney Frank's new memoir. He writes that it was "surprising... to find oneself moved by Frank, a man typically described in the press as 'brusque' or 'acerbic' and less euphemistically known to be, well, rude."
Books: “Enough About Me”: In an era when social media results in constant self-exposure, autobiographers are increasingly invested in defining and defending the value of their work. Leslie Jamison reviews two books whose authors have turned this form of literary backlash into bold experiments.
Books: “Such a Nice Monster”: In the new novel, Lurid & Cute, the author Adam Thirlwell indicts the morals of a pampered generation and the "vice of niceness"—whereby nicety becomes the excuse for cruelty and violence. Adam Kirsch has the review.
Forget the angsty and awkward high school moments. This month’s Big Question asks: “Who Is the Most Influential Teenager of All Time?” Emmett Till, Joan of Arc, Anne Frank, Elvis Presley, and Alexander the Great are some of history's adolescent icons nominated this month.
These articles and more are featured in the April 2015 issue of The Atlantic, available today, March 17, 2015, on TheAtlantic.com and The Atlantic’s mobile app, and on newsstands later this week.