Browse back issues of The Atlantic from 1857 to present that have appeared on the Web. From September 1995 to the present, the archive is essentially complete, with the exception of a few articles, the online rights to which are held exclusively by the authors.
How animals perceive the world, a return to Chagos, Steve Bannon, and a mad hunt for Civil War gold. Plus Jack White, how the U.S. has no nuclear strategy, dad rage, Ulysses at 100, one family’s doll test, downsides of beach resorts, and more.
Chasing Joan Didion, flawed forensic science, Ukrainian refugees in Poland, and how politics poisoned evangelical churches. Plus losing Medgar Evers, the words that lead to mass murder, Tracy Flick, Werner Herzog, chewing gum, primates and patriarchy, and more.
Preparing for the end of Roe, Europe’s ex-royals, tour guides to a tragedy, and how social media shattered society. Plus Winslow Homer, the myth of the liberal world order, a new history of WWII, ending mom guilt, the price of privacy, and more.
Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, an inmate advocates for his own death, finding empathy for COVID skeptics, and new fiction by Paul Yoon. Plus Death Be Not Proud, a Beat Generation friendship, lessons from Harry Truman, and more.
How to find happiness: the satisfaction trap, friendship, and changing your personality. Plus the betrayal of Afghan allies, the myth of ‘the Latino vote,’ bald eagles, Sheila Heti, Method acting, lateness, and more.
Trump’s next coup, the myth of voter fraud, Peter Meijer’s lonely stand, and what happened to American conservatism. Plus moral panic, Johnny Cash, U.S. money laundering, Milton, civil-war prophecies, Hanya Yanagihara’s latest, and more.
The autocrats are winning, the antiquities cop, death comes to the boxing ring, and France’s God complex. Plus the end of trust, the advertising singularity, BBQ chips, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, Mozart and forgiveness, new fiction by hurmat kazmi, and more.
The men killing America’s newspapers, how Slack upended the workplace, and the new meth. Plus how Facebook is a hostile foreign power, the engineers’ daughter, the collapse of music genres, Dostoyevsky, W. G. Sebald, nasty return logistics, and more.
Black TV writers and producers, converging megafires, America’s Atlantis, and the new Puritans. Plus portraits from Afghanistan, Colson Whitehead’s new novel, Peter Thiel, Nate Bargatze, Formula 1, guilt-free sex, and more.
One family 20 years after 9/11, how the creative class broke America, and remembering Emmett Till. Plus a 17th-century priest’s radical feminism, the problem with anti-racist self-help, morning people, why Millennials love dogs, Sally Rooney, Douglas Tompkins, and more.
Boris Johnson, the world Kodak made, six months in a meatpacking plant, and George Packer on the four Americas. Plus drinking alone, police unions, Top Gun, the war on Bollywood, an ode to procrastination, and more.
Why Confederate lies live on, Black America’s origin stories, Red Cross quarantine ships, Brett Kavanaugh, and new fiction from Morgan Thomas. Plus the Appalachian Elvis, Richard Wright, post-COVID fashion, Stacey Abrams’s fiction, flip phones, and more.
Return the national parks to the tribes, how we’ll remember the pandemic, a kidnapping gone wrong, and the women reinventing the Western. Plus American exclusion, Zoom justice, Andrew Yang, puberty TV, first ladies, giant closets, and more.
Private schools and inequity, fixing the internet, America’s reliance on special ops, and understanding long COVID. Plus new fiction by Paul Yoon, pandemic merch, Beirut after the blast, Kazuo Ishiguro’s radiant robot, Sam Sifton’s no-recipe recipes, and more.
Inheritance: Narratives of the enslaved, forgotten founder Prince Hall, the Voting Rights Act, and Anna Deavere Smith on forging Black identity. Plus Charles “Teenie” Harris, ultra-fast fashion, the Earth’s deep past, Caroline Shaw, hyperpop, nervous breakdowns, and more.
The pandemic endgame, the most American religion, and how Biden should hold Trump accountable. Plus Martellus Bennett, China’s rebel historians, new fiction by Te-Ping Chen, installment plans, suffragists, Martin Amis, and more.
The Tech Issue: The last children of Down syndrome, the most famous teens on TikTok, and can history predict the future? Plus therapy and parental alienation, why remote learning isn’t the only problem with school, Eddie Murphy’s return, the existential despair of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Adrienne Rich, and more.
The election that could break America, pro-Trump militant groups, niche sports and Ivy League admissions, and how China is rewriting global rules. Plus the last exit before autocracy, the making of Malcolm X, agony aunts, pandemic nesting, the Jefferson Bible, Kamala Harris’s ambition, British police shows, and more.
Making America again: The new Reconstruction, America’s plastic hour, and the flawed genius of the Constitution. Plus disaster and the modern city, Donald Judd, Black mayors remaking the South, Claudia Rankine, Hillary Rodham Clinton on women’s rights, and more.
How the virus won, America’s denial about racism, China’s AI surveillance state, what MasterClass really sells, and novelist Gayl Jones. Plus racial-progess myths, how protest works, Elena Ferrante’s latest, Erin Brockovich, looking for Frederick Douglass, Putin’s rise, and more.
Trump’s collaborators, the genius of supermarkets, the looming bank collapse, and unloved children. Plus new fiction by Andrew Martin, the end of minimalism, Big Tech and the plague, Kevin Kwan, Ai Weiwei on the pandemic, Lauren Groff on Florida, and more.
QAnon and conspiracies, the phantom papyrus, Russian election hacking, and the summer of Snowden. Plus sadcoms, the U.S. as failed state, and birds, with essays by Caitlin Flanagan, Thomas Lynch, Vann R. Newkirk II, and more.
The anxious child, the lawyer whose clients didn’t exist, fighting America’s opioid epidemic, and H. R. McMaster on what China wants. Plus friendship with Philip Roth, ending the office dress code, Joey Votto, Calder’s art, Robert Stone’s novels, and more.
How to destroy a government, tackling giraffes, and does Reiki work? Plus a Colorado murder, capitalism’s addiction problem, Michael Pollan on coffee, “premiocrity,” fallibility, weirdos, Hilary Mantel, and more.
The 2020 disinformation war, David Brooks on the nuclear family, #MeToo and the abortion-rights movement, and new fiction by Samantha Hunt. Plus trusting Nate Silver, the Supreme Court’s enduring bias, climate change and peer pressure, an ode to cold showers, and more.
The great “convergence” of the mid-20th century may have been an anomaly.
It may be time to stop talking about “red” and “blue” America. That’s the provocative conclusion of Michael Podhorzer, a longtime political strategist for labor unions and the chair of the Analyst Institute, a collaborative of progressive groups that studies elections. In a private newsletter that he writes for a small group of activists, Podhorzer recently laid out a detailed case for thinking of the two blocs as fundamentally different nations uneasily sharing the same geographic space.
“When we think about the United States, we make the essential error of imagining it as a single nation, a marbled mix of Red and Blue people,” Podhorzer writes. “But in truth, we have never been one nation. We are more like a federated republic of two nations: Blue Nation and Red Nation. This is not a metaphor; it is a geographic and historical reality.”
Everything seems to be falling apart. The Russians are occupying a neighboring state. A foreign crisis is causing spikes in the price of oil. Inflation is the worst it’s been in some 40 years. A Democratic president is facing the lowest approval ratings of his term and has openly admitted that he knows the public is in a foul mood. A virus is on the loose and making a lot of people sick.
Even the music charts are a mess, a horrid stew of disco and wimp-rock hits.
I’m sorry, did you think I was talking about 2022? I was actually reminiscing about 1979, the year I turned 19, when the Soviet Union occupied Afghanistan, the Iranian revolution led to another round of oil shocks, inflation reached its worst levels since World War II, President Jimmy Carter was at 30 percent approval, and, yes, an influenza epidemic broke out.
Stores are stocked with copycat designs. It’s a nightmare.
As best as I can tell, the puff-sleeve onslaught began in 2018. The clothing designer Batsheva Hay’s eponymous brand was barely two years old, but her high-necked, ruffle-trimmed, elbow-covering dresses in dense florals and upholstery prints—bizarro-world reimaginings of the conservative frocks favored by Hasidic Jewish women and the Amish—had developed a cult following among weird New York fashion-and-art girls. Almost all of her early designs featured some kind of huge, puffy sleeve; according to a lengthy profile in TheNew Yorker published that September, the custom-made dress that inspired Hay’s line had enough space in the shoulders to store a few tennis balls.
Batsheva dresses aren’t for everyone. They can cost more than $400, first of all, and more important, they’re weird: When paired with Jordans and decontextualized on a 20-something Instagram babe, the clothes of religious fundamentalism become purposefully unsettling. But as described in that cerulean-sweater scene from The Devil Wears Prada, what happens at the tip-top of the fashion hierarchy rains down on the rest of us. So it went with the puff sleeve. Batsheva and a handful of other influential indie designers adopted the puff around the same time, and the J.Crews and ASOSes and Old Navys of the world took notice. Puff sleeves filtered down the price tiers, in one form or another, just like a zillion trends have before—streamlined for industrial-grade reproduction and attached to a litany of dresses and shirts that don’t require a model’s body or an heiress’s bank account. And then, unlike most trends, it stuck around.
The Supreme Court majority’s undead constitutionalism is transforming right-wing media tropes into law.
The Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade, allowing state governments to force women to give birth, is the result of decades of right-wing political advocacy, organizing, and electoral victory. It is also just the beginning of the Court’s mission to reshape all of American society according to conservative demands, without fear of public opposition.
Justice Samuel Alito’s opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson contains a classic Alito disclaimer—an explicit denial of the logical implications of his stated position. In this case, Alito declares that “nothing in this opinion should be understood to cast doubt on precedents that do not concern abortion,” even as he argues that when it comes to rights “not mentioned in the Constitution,” only those “deeply rooted in this Nation’s history and tradition” are protected. If you’re asking yourself who decides which rights can be so described, you’re on the right track.
I thought I was writing fiction in The Handmaid’s Tale.
In the early years of the 1980s, I was fooling around with a novel that explored a future in which the United States had become disunited. Part of it had turned into a theocratic dictatorship based on 17th-century New England Puritan religious tenets and jurisprudence. I set this novel in and around Harvard University—an institution that in the 1980s was renowned for its liberalism, but that had begun three centuries earlier chiefly as a training college for Puritan clergy.
In the fictional theocracy of Gilead, women had very few rights, as in 17th-century New England. The Bible was cherry-picked, with the cherries being interpreted literally. Based on the reproductive arrangements in Genesis—specifically, those of the family of Jacob—the wives of high-ranking patriarchs could have female slaves, or “handmaids,” and those wives could tell their husbands to have children by the handmaids and then claim the children as theirs.
For many students, physical school wasn’t replaced with Zoom. Rather, school closures meant no school—literally none at all.
On March 4, 2020, a week before the World Health Organization formally declared the coronavirus a global pandemic, Northshore School District, in Washington State, closed its doors, becoming the first in the country to announce a districtwide shift to online learning. Within three weeks, every public-school building in the United States had been closed and 50 million students had been sent home. Half of these students would not reenter their schools for more than a year. No other high-income country in the world relied to such a great extent on remote instruction. The coronavirus caused by far the biggest disruption in the history of American education. Neither the Great Depression nor even the two World Wars imposed anything close to as drastic a change in how America’s schoolchildren spent their days.
After the fall of Roe, some abortion opponents think it’s time to focus on expanding America’s social safety net. Will the rest of their movement join them?
Paying pregnant women’s bills was not exactly part of Nathan and Emily Berning’s life plan—until they realized that doing so actually helped dissuade women from getting abortions. One of the first was Atoria Foley, who was living in her car when she found out that she was pregnant. Atoria had scheduled an abortion and the Bernings sprang to action. They flew to Sacramento, California, where she lived, and put her up in a hotel. What Atoria needed—groceries, gas, car payments—they covered, sometimes with their own money. They signed her up for every government benefit they could. When Atoria finally canceled her abortion appointment, the Bernings were elated. Her son, Kiahari, turned 2 years old in March.
Norma McCorvey, the plaintiff in Roe v. Wade, never had the abortion she was seeking. She gave her baby girl up for adoption, and now that baby is an adult. After decades of keeping her identity a secret, Jane Roe’s child has chosen to talk about her life.
Nearly half a century ago, Roe v. Wade secured a woman’s legal right to obtain an abortion. The ruling has been contested with ever-increasing intensity, dividing and reshaping American politics. And yet for all its prominence, the person most profoundly connected to it has remained unknown: the child whose conception occasioned the lawsuit.
Roe’s pseudonymous plaintiff, Jane Roe, was a Dallas waitress named Norma McCorvey. Wishing to terminate her pregnancy, she filed suit in March 1970 against Dallas County District Attorney Henry Wade, challenging the Texas laws that prohibited abortion. Norma won her case. But she never had the abortion. On January 22, 1973, when the Supreme Court finally handed down its decision, she had long since given birth—and relinquished her child for adoption.
What would it have been like to live in Babel in the days after its destruction? In the Book of Genesis, we are told that the descendants of Noah built a great city in the land of Shinar. They built a tower “with its top in the heavens” to “make a name” for themselves. God was offended by the hubris of humanity and said:
Look, they are one people, and they have all one language; and this is only the beginning of what they will do; nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. Come, let us go down, and confuse their language there, so that they will not understand one another’s speech.
The text does not say that God destroyed the tower, but in many popular renderings of the story he does, so let’s hold that dramatic image in our minds: people wandering amid the ruins, unable to communicate, condemned to mutual incomprehension.
Your well-being is like a retirement account: The sooner you invest, the greater your returns will be.
“How to Build a Life” is a weekly column by Arthur Brooks, tackling questions of meaning and happiness. Click here to listen to his podcast series on all things happiness, How to Build a Happy Life.
Imagine yourself 10 years from now. Will you be happier or less happy than you are today? I ask my graduate students—average age, late 20s—this question every year. The majority think they will be happier. But when I ask about their prediction for 50 years from now, it seems a lot less rosy. Being in their late 70s doesn’t sound so great to most of them.
They are shocked when I show them the data on what happens to most people: Happiness tends to decline throughout young adulthood and middle age, bottoming out at about age 50. After that, it heads back up again into one’s mid-60s. Then something strange happens. Older people split into two groups as they get old: those getting much happier, and those getting much unhappier.