A collection of articles from every year of The Atlantic’s history traces the evolution of the magazine, and of America.
Seventy years ago, Albert Einstein presaged atomic war.
Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken,” originally published in The Atlantic in 1915, is animated in a new video.
An animated excerpt of an article from W.E.B. Du Bois depicts the “double-consciousness of a dark body.”
In 1932, Hellen Keller offered some advice for the “perplexed businessman.”
The Atlantic was first published in November of 1857. Its 160th anniversary calls for a celebration.
A history of the first African American White House—and of what came next
The U.S. president talks through his hardest decisions about America’s role in the world.
The Islamic State is no mere collection of psychopaths. It is a religious group with carefully considered beliefs, among them that it is a key agent of the coming apocalypse. Here’s what that means for its strategy—and for how to stop it.
Two hundred fifty years of slavery. Ninety years of Jim Crow. Sixty years of separate but equal. Thirty-five years of racist housing policy. Until we reckon with our compounding moral debts, America will never be whole.
How to think about drones
The Great Recession has accelerated the hollowing-out of the American middle class. And it has illuminated the widening divide between most of America and the super-rich. Both developments herald grave consequences. Here is how we can bridge the gap between us.
The election of Barack Obama is just the most startling manifestation of a larger trend: the gradual erosion of “whiteness” as the touchstone of what it means to be American. If the end of white America is a cultural and demographic inevitability, what will the new mainstream look like—and how will white Americans fit into it? What will it mean to be white when whiteness is no longer the norm? And will a post-white America be less racially divided—or more so?
What the Internet is doing to our brains
Karl Rove had the plan, the power, and the historic chance to remake American politics. What went wrong?
A growing number of Internet dating sites are relying on academic researchers to develop a new science of attraction. A firsthand report from the front lines of an unprecedented social experiment
Dealing with North Korea could make Iraq look like child's play—and the longer we wait, the harder it will get. That's the message of a Pentagon-style war game involving some of this country's most prominent foreign-policy strategists
The American bubble in Baghdad
First you feel nervous about riding the bus. Then you wonder about going to a mall. Then you think twice about sitting for long at your favorite café. Then nowhere seems safe. Terrorist groups have a strategy—to shrink to nothing the areas in which people move freely—and suicide bombers, inexpensive and reliably lethal, are their latest weapons. Israel has learned to recognize and disrupt the steps on the path to suicide attacks. We must learn too.
Going to war with Iraq would mean shouldering all the responsibilities of an occupying power the moment victory was achieved. These would include running the economy, keeping domestic peace, and protecting Iraq's borders—and doing it all for years, or perhaps decades. Are we ready for this long-term relationship?
The electoral map of the 2000 presidential race became famous: big blocks of red (denoting states that went for Bush) stretched across the heartland, with brackets of blue (denoting states for Gore) along the coasts. Our Blue America correspondent has ventured repeatedly into Red territory. He asks the question—after September 11, a pressing one—Do our differences effectively split us into two nations, or are they just cracks in a still-united whole?
Al Gore is the most lethal debater in politics, a ruthless combatant who will say whatever it takes to win, and who leaves opponents not just beaten but brutalized. But Gore is no natural-born killer. He studied hard to become the man he is today.
How prisons, established to fight crime, produce crime.
The sensational revelations of recent years about the Central Intelligence Agency almost obscure a larger point: The Agency is just no good at what it's supposed to be doing. So writes the author, a former CIA officer, who describes a corrosive culture in which promotion-hungry operatives collect pointless intelligence from worthless foreign agents. Reform, the author warns, may be impossible.
The global triumph of democracy was to be the glorious climax of the American Century. But democracy may not be the system that will best serve the world—or even the one that will prevail in places that now consider themselves bastions of freedom.
Why has the media establishment become so unpopular? Perhaps the public has good reason to think that the media's self-aggrandizement gets in the way of solving the country's real problems.
The management of California's strawberry industry offers a case study of both the dependence on an imported peasantry that characterizes much of American agriculture and the destructive consequences of a deliberate low-wage economy.
Organized crime has Russia even more firmly in its grip than has been reported. Lawlessness has made Americans in Moscow fear for their lives, thrown obstacles in the way of businesses both foreign and domestic—and eroded the government's control over its nuclear weapons and materials.
After 60,000 deaths from firearms use over the past two years, America is in a gun crisis. Yet gun laws remain weak, gunmakers continue to promote killing power, and gun dealers accept no responsibility for the criminal use of what they sell.
Why are there so few women in Congress? Why is it especially difficult for women to make it to the Senate? With a record number of women running for the Senate this year, our reporter takes a careful look at the obstacles in the way of women candidates and at their emerging advantages.
A whole two days off from work, in which we can do what we please, has only recently become a near-universal right. What we choose to do looks increasingly like work, and idleness has acquired a bad name. Herein, a history of leisure.
At a time when citizens in Eastern Europe and elsewhere were demanding the right to self-determination and converting their governments to democracies, a social scientist considered the degree to which civil liberties within a democracy require protection.
"Suppose, just suppose, that the Animal Welfare Act were replaced by an animal-rights act, which would prohibit the use by human beings of any animals to their detriment. What would be the effect on medical research, education, and product testing?"
Picasso's art enacted the violent passions and twisted energies of the twentieth century. So did his life.
An American abroad in Chernobyl's aftermath confronts the half-life of truth
Two stereotypes dominate discussions of terrorism. They cloud thought and inhibit effective action.
An overview of the history and geopolitical significance of the Soviet invasion and occupation
Learning by doing and sensitivity to feelings are the keys to academic progress
Nixon, Ford, Haig, and the transfer of power.
The police and neighborhood safety
“None of us really understands what’s going on with all these numbers.”
“Television is poised to absorb and emasculate the movies, all in the name of home entertainment.”
“The evidence, fragmentary as it is, suggests that the CIA customarily drew the line at what is commonly meant by the word ‘murder.’ However, in the late 1950s, the CIA began to get orders to kill people.”
A report on the veterans of Vietnam—and on the often disgraceful treatment they have received from their countrymen.
Space scientists won't say so, but the results of three brilliantly conceived experiments lead inevitably to one startling conclusion: Life, in some form, exists on Mars.
However the Toynbee or the Gibbon of the future adjudges what happened to American society, he will need to reckon large with the impact of radio and television.
Robert Byrd, a little-known, fiddle-playing West Virginian, is the Senate’s Democratic whip, probably its next majority leader, and just possibly a favorite son at the 1976 Democratic Convention. Says he: “I believe that a big man can make a small job important.” Some of his colleagues think Byrd also proves the converse: that big job can help a small man to grow.
In Harlan County, Kentucky, are some of our country's richest natural resources—and some of its poorest people.
As a steady stream of disturbing revelations surfaced in the Watergate investigation, Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr.—a Pulitzer Prize-winning historian and a former adviser to President Kennedy—argued that under Richard Nixon's insidious influence, the power of the presidency had spiraled out of control.
“Inevitably political, the Pentagon Papers case is a decisive test of the federal government's capacity to control the disclosure of information stamped 'secret,' of an individual's right to defy the security classification system, and at least peripherally, of the press's ability to rely on 'leaks' in government circles.”
Is this what we want?
“More women will have to become much more aggressive than they are at present if equal opportunity in employment is to be achieved.”
Are the Blackstone Rangers a corrupt, exploitive street gang? Or a constructive engine of community black power?
From the beginning of John Kennedy's Administration into this fifth year of Lyndon Johnson's presidency, substantially the same small group of men have presided over the destiny of the United States. In that time they have carried the country from a limited involvement in Vietnam into a war that is brutal, probably unwinnable, and, to an increasing body of opinion, calamitous and immoral. How could it happen?
Countless sociological studies and official reports have described the dreadful condition of the nation's ghetto schools in abstract terms, but the general public has no concrete idea of what goes on inside them. Jonathan Kozol recounts his experience as a teacher in the Roxbury section of Boston.
“I've never had a chance to explain my position on this subject without interruption, and to a large audience. So people mistakenly think I'm asking people to take dope-fiend dope.”
In 1965, an anonymous woman described the steps she took to terminate an unwanted pregnancy.
“In the election this fall ... we stand for the election of President Lyndon B. Johnson.”
Six years before the first Apollo mission, two scientists from NASA argued for manned lunar exploration.
“The housewife, the factory worker, and the businessman will tell you that they are against such things as narcotics, bootlegging, prostitution, gang murders, the corruption of public officials and police, and, the bribery of college athletes. And yet this is where their money goes.”
In 1961, Eleanor Roosevelt called for Americans to rededicate themselves to the country's democratic ideals.
“I think that the charge that men have become emasculated by the competence of women is both depressing and untrue.”
“Let us not forget that our essential policy interests are identical with those of the Arabs.”
The growing need for research workers and scientists has opened new doors for women. Helen Hill Miller, who for many years was Washington correspondent for the London Economist, describes some of the work being done in science both by single women and by those who successfully combine marriage and a career.
The first modern Olympic games took place in Athens sixty years ago in a stadium holding seventy-five thousand. The American hurdler Thomas P. Curtis won the Gold Medal in his event; he also found time to make notes of what happened.
One pound of uranium carries more releasable energy than 1500 tons of coal, and the solar energy that reaches the earth in a single day is equivalent to that released by two million Hiroshima A-bombs. Better control of these and other forms of energy is basic to man's progress.
“The southward migration of industry from New England has too frequently taken place for causes other than normal competition and natural advantages.”
“The deliberate political design by which two Administrations treated the Korean War as if it were an insoluble military problem … confused the American public and, confusing it, dulled its memory.”
“Too much of our news is one-dimensional, when truth has three dimensions (or maybe more); and in some fields the vast and increasing complexity of the news makes it continually more difficult—especially for us Washington reporters—to tell the public what really happened.”
Bertrand Russell calmly examines three foreseeable possibilities for the human race.
“It is possible to fly without motors, but not without knowledge and skill. This I conceive to be fortunate, for man, by reason of his greater intellect, can more reasonably hope to equal birds in knowledge than to equal nature in the perfection of her machinery.”
The former head of the Manhattan Project wrote about how to advance peace in the nuclear age, just four years after he directed the construction of the world’s first atomic bomb.
“I just wanted to keep on raising a pig, full meal after full meal, spring into summer into fall.”
Seventy years ago, Einstein offered the United States and the international community advice on how to coexist in the shadow of the bomb.
“Göring resorted to every conceivable device to fill the walls and the coffers of Carinhall, bargaining, cheating, even invoking where necessary the prestige of German arms or the terrible threat of intervention by the Gestapo.”
“Consider a future device … in which an individual stores all his books, records, and communications, and which is mechanized so that it may be consulted with exceeding speed and flexibility. It is an enlarged intimate supplement to his memory.”
“The possibility of recurrent epidemics, perhaps of increasing virulence, even of another pandemic, must be faced.”
Princess Elizabeth will be eighteen on her next birthday. How does her education compare with that of an American girl of the same age? And how does it compare with that of Victoria, who was also educated to be queen?
In the midst of World War II, as China's Nationalist leader, Chiang Kai-shek, struggled against Japanese invaders from without and the Communist movement from within, his Wellesley College–educated wife decried the exploitation of China by the West and delineated a vision for a more democratic future.
In 1937, Rebecca West set out to see for herself why the "Powderkeg of Europe" had so often threatened the fate of the continent.
Two Yale students defend their isolationism.
“Men ... are brought, for the 'protection of the people and the State,' into a concentration camp without hearing, without court sentence, without the possibility of redress, and for an indefinite time.”
“It is as if the experience of being in love could only be one of two things: a superhuman ecstasy, the way of reaching heaven on earth and in pairs; or a psychopathic condition to be treated by specialists.”
Two years before Hitler invaded Poland, an Atlantic author predicted the Reich’s expansion and how it would affect the various nations of Eastern Europe.
When drought struck Oklahoma in the 1930s, the author and her husband stayed behind to protect their 28-year-old farm. Her letters to a friend paint a picture of dire poverty, desiccated soil, and long days with no sunshine.
“National Socialism is not only a protest against the Treaty of Versailles. It is a revolt against the ideals of democracy.”
“The Roosevelt experiment, in a word, is a systematic effort to put capitalism into leading strings of principle. It is to be the servant, and not the master, of the American people.”
"What I mean to try for is the observation of that strange moment when the vaguely adumbrated characters whose adventures one is preparing to record are suddenly there, themselves, in the flesh, in possession of one, and in command of one’s voice and hand."
“I am tempted to think that the perplexed businessman might discover a possible solution of his troubles if he would just spend a few days in his wife's kitchen.”
“The pouring forth of this great torrent of new units of speculation results in the inevitable consequences dictated by the law of supply and demand.”
“It is time for us to devise ways of meeting the inevitable disaster of old age and the almost equally inevitable disasters of sickness and unemployment, and these must be ways that will not fail when the stock market breaks or a new machine is invented, that will function in the lean years as in the fat years, and that can be accepted without loss of self-respect.”
“Securities in corporations whose directors are known to be trading in and out of the stock on special information for their own personal profit are coming more and more to be looked upon askance by investors.”
"People called them hoodlums, and hoodlums they were, but they were a gusty element in community life, noisy and forceful."
“I recognize no power in the institutions of my Church to interfere with the operations of the Constitution of the United States or the enforcement of the law of the land.”
Just a few years before the Crash of 1929, Harvard economics professor William Z. Ripley warned that corporations weren't providing accurate financial information to their investors and argued that a framework of regulatory oversight was needed. The creation of the Securities and Exchange Commission in 1934 has been in part attributed to Ripley's Atlantic writings.
Light verse composed by America's sixteenth president
“Evolution makes its appeal to reason, but its acceptance does not mean the abasement, let alone the denial, of emotion, faith, and religion.”
Pearl S. Buck, an American-born writer who was raised in China and continues to live and teach there with her husband, reflects on the social and cultural changes transforming China's young people.
“As a state of mind, [it] is symptom, not malady.”
“Since 1913, a number of gentlemen wearing glasses and looking wondrous wise, and no doubt as wise as they look, have proved to us that it can always be teatime if we care to figure it out properly.”
“The prison cannot be changed as long as the old basis of suppression and isolation is maintained.”
"What has happened is essentially this, that the natural limitations upon warfare which have existed hitherto appear to have broken down."
“I felt like Alice in Wonderland. I had swallowed a magic pill which had transformed things. Cooks and duchesses; ragged soldiers and resplendent generals; collarless workingmen and bewigged and begowned judges, had changed places.”
“When we start out to kill enemies abroad on a gigantic scale, we are not likely to hesitate to gag those at home who seem directly or indirectly to sympathize with the foe.”
“The modern soldier's hope of finding some universal values and transcendent principles involved in his nation’s struggle and hallowing it, is more certain of disappointment than ever before.”
"Birches," "The Road Not Taken," and "The Sound of Trees"
“There is no walk of life which we have left entirely uninvaded. We are everywhere, in everything. If a climax is desired, even the throne has no immunity from our adventurous and versatile persistence in attempting occupations.”
About a year after the revolutionary overthrow of the Qing Dynasty, Ching Chun Wang, a Chinese railway official and representative of the emergent republic, makes a case for international recognition.
“At present there probably cannot be a judicial presentation of the case; time is needed to put events in true relation to causes. But it is possible to correct some falsities and relieve some perplexities regarding essential facts.”
“’We live in a land of strangers, where there is no soil for the seeds of our activity to find roots. Remember, David, we are strangers!’”
“The problem, How to maintain the institution of chattel slavery, ceased to be at Appomattox; the problem, How to maintain the social, industrial, and civic inferiority of the descendants of chattel slaves, succeeded it, and is the race problem of the South at the present time. There is no other.”
“The vote is an indefinable something that makes you part of the plan of the world. It means the same to women that it does to men.”
“The process by which a nation was created and unified came at last to an end, and a still more fateful process began which was to determine its place and example in the general history of the world.”
"New York is trying to create for itself a new mind as well as a new body."
"'Will it be beautiful?' should be asked as to any proposition for improvement, but it is not by any means the first question to be asked."
“These States are rapidly supplying themselves with new words, called for by new occasions, new facts, new politics, new combinations.”
“The sterling characteristics of the colored soldiers, their loyalty to the service as shown by the statistics of desertion, and, above all, their splendid service in Cuba, should have entitled them to additional organizations.”
A New York Times editor spins a fable in which banking giant J.P. Morgan strikes a deal for world peace.
“No sooner had Northern armies touched Southern soil than this old question, newly guised, sprang from the earth, — What shall be done with slaves?”
In an address to Princeton University, America’s 22nd and 24th president spoke about the history and political deliberations surrounding his former office.
“All the world lies warm in one heart, yet the Sierra seems to get more light than other mountains.”
“For the French nation, the point of interest has been, not the treason, but the Jew.”
“It dawned upon me with a certain suddenness that I was different from the others; or like, mayhap, in heart and life and longing, but shut out from their world by a vast veil.”
“It is through the dairy farm, the truck garden, the trades, and commercial life, largely, that the negro is to find his way to the enjoyment of all his rights.”
The first in a four-part series about the planet’s physical conditions—and its possible habitation.
“It is idle to suppose that organized labor has been crushed, or that it will permanently submit to defeat. It is only a question of time when another outbreak will occur ... accompanied with violence, bloodshed, and fire.”
How Congress settled the disputed electoral count in the presidential election of 1876
“The clerk is bound to feel that there is some duress in the matter, when a committee of the association with which his immediate superior is closely connected requests him for campaign funds. He ought to be allowed to contribute or not, just as he sees fit.”
“‘Mr. Higginson, — Are you too deeply occupied to say if my verse is alive?’”
“Our self-imposed isolation in the matter of markets ... [has] coincided singularly with an actual remoteness of this continent from the life of the rest of the world.”
A noted architect and writer commends Thomas Edison for his progress in developing the phonograph and predicts great things for its future.
The first installment in a four-part series on American cotton manufacturing
“The Red Cross [is] destined to become the great almoner of the people’s bounty on occasions of swift calamity, the tried and trusted agent of national and international benefactions.”
“The question is not merely, How shall the methods of Congress be clarified and its ways made purposeful and responsible? There is this greater question at stake: How shall the essential arrangements of the Constitution be preserved?”
Conversations with Southerners about race relations and life in the aftermath of the Civil War
“When this volcanic dust ceases to glorify our skies at dawn and eve, we shall part with what has probably been the most remarkable and picturesque accident to the earth's physical life that has been known with the limits of recorded history.”
“We alone can use properly our own resources; and no work in art or literature ever has been, or ever will be, of any real or lasting value which is not true, original, and independent.”
He “fought out the battles of his generation with ‘blood and iron, not with parliamentary speeches;’ and restored the medieval brigands to the place which had so long been usurped by a race of dyspeptic philosophers.”
”These incidents in railroad history show most of the points where we fail ... to maintain the equities of ‘government’—and employment—‘of the people, by the people, for the people.’”
The opening scenes of Henry James’s classic novel
“Everywhere we meet with the same state of facts. The labor-saving machine is entering every field, and its entrance is to the workman an irresistible command to go.”
An anonymous contributor described mounting racial tensions in the aftermath of Reconstruction.
A year after the national centennial, a long-time member of the House of Representatives and future president of the United States reflected on the development of the American legislature.
“Here were no humiliating terms of submission imposed on a brave people: no amnesty qualifications exacted; no banishment or confiscation laws; no test-oaths, to incite to perjury or foster the resentments of war.”
“What attitude of mind does a perception of the inward holiness or religious sanctity of marriage enjoin upon those who suffer from any of the offenses included in the violation of the outward bond? — a vindictive attitude or a forgiving one?”
A confederate soldier from a plantation-owning family offers the Southern point of view on the Civil War.
Gathered from the experiences of Thomas Jefferson
How a coterie of New Englanders—including the author—secretly funded John Brown's raid
“The mediæval belief in werewolves is especially adapted to illustrate the complicated manner in which divers mythical conceptions and misunderstood natural occurrences will combine to generate a long-enduring superstition.”
The author recounts her adventures with the King of Siam.
Lady Byron has not spoken at all; her story has never been told.
A short story
“Statesmen, beware what you do. The destiny of unborn and unnumbered generations is in your hands.”
An escaped slave tells his story—including his account of his violent showdown with slave-catchers in Pennsylvania.
“We think we pay the best tribute to his memory and the most fitting respect to his name, if we ask after the relation in which he stands to the history of his country and his fellow-man.”
A nineteenth-century writer meets Brigham Young and explores the “City of Saints.”
Set in a wartime hospital, and narrated by a Civil War nurse, Louisa May Alcott's 1863 short story is a tale of siblings—one black, one white.
The lyrics to Julia Ward Howe’s patriotic classic premiered in the February 1862 issue of The Atlantic.
“We must convince men that treason against the ballot-box is as dangerous as treason against a throne.”
The Atlantic’s editor endorsed Abraham Lincoln for the presidency in the 1860 election, correctly predicting it would prove to be “a turning-point in our history.”
"We venture to assert, then, that woman’s social inferiority, in the past, has been, to a great extent, a legitimate thing."
“It was scarcely opened, before it became, as might have been expected, the battleground for the opposing civilizations of the Union, to renew and fight out their long quarrel upon. From every quarter of the land settlers rushed thither, to take part in the wager of battle.”
In its second issue, The Atlantic urged Northerners to take a stand against slavery.