The Coming Revolution in Africa

Table of Contents

In Essence

Sociologists have explored virtually every aspect of the poor and middle class, but they are finally beginning to study the enclaves of the rich.

New Yorkers pride themselves on a tradition of successfully absorbing immigrants, even if the story is not always quite true.

Since the end of the Cold War, the foreign policy establishment has stood solidly behind international activism. It's time to admit the experiment has failed.

The new kind of war being fought in Iraq has resulted in much lower troop deaths compared to earlier conflicts, but woundings are still alarmingly high.

Supreme Court justices used to serve shorter terms, either because of death or semi-graceful retirement. Now the average tenure surpasses a quarter-century, and many think term limits are in order.

Winemaking is the latest industry to witness global production, with no end in sight.

Managers are always encouraging workers to "think outside the box," but studies suggest that most people are not very good at unstructured, abstract brainstorming.

Cities that launch expensive curbside recycling programs, as opposed to having residents bring their recyclables to a regional center, get little extra for their money.

The American public bought into a sensationalized media portrait of addicted Vietnam soldiers. Alcohol was more of a problem, but the stereotype persists.

Westerners think that separation of church and state is a natural condition, but it isn't. Thomas Hobbes provided an exhausted Europe with a secular solution, but Muslims experienced nothing similar among their thinkers.

The shrinking glacier on Tanzania's Mount Kilimanjaro are, for many, including Al Gore, a prime example of global warming. But scientific study shows the truth is much more complex.

How could 18-year-old Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley have concocted a horror tale for the ages? Many now think she had a very good editor: her husband.

A critic has uncovered a warm, fuzzy strain infecting modern literature. The pox seems centered in Brooklyn.

THE SOURCE: “America’s Favorite Buildings” by Witold Rybczynski, in Wharton Real Estate Review, Fall 2007.

THE SOURCES: “The Faculty ‘Problem’” by Wilson D. Miscamble, in America, Sept. 10, 2007, and “Catholic Enough? Religious Identity at Notre Dame” by John T. McGreevy, in Commonweal, Sept. 28, 2007.

THE SOURCE: “Lasting Impacts of Indonesia’s Financial Crisis” by Martin Ravallion and Michael Lokshin, in Economic Development and Cultural Change, Oct. 2007.

THE SOURCE: “The Erosion of Racial Equality in the Context of Cuba’s Dual Economy” by Sarah A. Blue, in Latin American Politics and Society, Fall 2007.

The Rose, Orange, and Tulip revolutions in three former Soviet Republics, says a political scientist, have amounted to little more than a limited rotation of the ruling elites.

Although it is alluring to think that living in diverse communities fosters tolerance and social solidarity, Harvard sociologist Robert D. Putnam, of Bowling Alone fame, says the evidence points overwhelmingly in the opposite direction.

Culture and economics tend to encourage low population growth. These days, the only people still having lots of babies seem to be the deeply religious.

First Lady Abigail Adams was a shrewd speculator who pressed and wheedled her husband, John, to get out of farmland and invest in bonds.

Book Reviews

Winifred Gallagher inspects two books on dirt: both offer rich details, but she finds one more scholarly, the other "livelier...riddled with gossipy anecdotes about the rich and famous."

Brooke Allen reviews Janet Malcolm's book on Gertrude Stein and her long-time companion Alice B. Toklas, in which Malcolm "comes close to declaring Stein an artistic fraud."

In a new book on the American Civil War, reviewer Robert Wilson finds it was "the shared suffering" of the North and South that "finally made the nation one again."

A new biography of explorer Henry Morton Stanley, says reviewer Rebecca Clay, uncovers "the truth behind the myth," and "paints a sympathetic portrait of the ultimate self-made man."

Amy E. Schwartz looks at Well-Behaved Women Seldom Make History.

“Politicians, ugly buildings, and whores all get respectable if they last long enough,” says a character in the film classic Chinatown. Reviewer Aaron Mesh concludes that movies have been around long enough to join the list.

Anthony Aveni finds a young writer's book about the scientific clairvoyance of artists every bit as insightful as the ideas of his subjects.

Walter Reich hopes that What Makes a Terrorist will finally dispel the notion that poverty breeds terrorism.

Mimi Schwartz reviews a new guide to Queens, the largest of the city’s five boroughs and the second most populous (after Brooklyn). The book's author calls it “the most heterogeneous place in the world.”

Jay Tolson reviews a new book by Charles Taylor, "a profoundly learned thinker (who is also a believing Christian)" that tries to explain the persistence of religion in a secular world.

A new book examines a day in the life of the body, and reviewer Sharman Apt Russell appreciates its many "intriguing byways—orgasms, napping, the common cold, and nightmares."

Alexandra Vacroux learns that the lesson of a new book is to come to grips with the myriad ways that numbers rule our lives, and to understand that some thinking is better done by human than computer.


Whether in covered wagons or station wagons, Americans have always hit the road, driven by the belief that a better life lies over the hill and around the bend.

Christopher Clausen

Despite stunning advances in neuroscience and bold claims of revelations from new brain-scan technologies, our knowledge about the brain’s role in human behavior is still primitive.

Charles Barber

On December 30, 2006, Haleh Esfandiari, director of the Wilson Center’s Middle East Program, was stopped and robbed on her way to the Tehran airport. Trapped in Iran without a passport, she was interrogated by intelligence agents almost daily for six weeks. Then, on May 8, she was taken to Tehran’s Evin Prison and placed in solitary confinement, accused of the capital offense of attempting to overturn the Iranian government.

Haleh Esfandiari & Judith M. Havemann

A surreal encounter in an Islamabad office reveals in an instant why billions of dollars spent on aid to Pakistan have made so little difference in the lives of the country’s poor.

Samia Altaf

A rising generation of small farmers promises not only to put food on the African table but to fundamentally change the continent’s economic and political life.

G. Pascal Zachary

It’s wishful thinking to believe that tiny loans to people in developing countries can end poverty, but microcredit does improve the lives of millions in small but meaningful ways.

Karol Boudreaux & Tyler Cowen

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