World War IV

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In Essence

Latin America, once rife with dictatorships, now has all but two of its countries run by elected governments. The bad news: Many of them are struggling.

Indonesia's government has been undergoing a quiet--and much-needed--process of reform.

The new army is swift and high-tech, but far from flawless.

The Booker Prize--still one of Britain's premier literary awards--is increasingly coming under scrutiny, and suffering a bit under the attention.

Many African nations, by necessity, import food to feed their populations, but more could be done to promote home-grown products.

The 1996 federal reform of welfare was supposed to reduce dependency on government benefits, but that may not be happening.

Architects divide into "rads" and "trads" but no one seems to be building for the here and now.

Despite instant global communications, goods still travel at a comparatively plodding pace.

Mixed-race offspring in colonial America came less from master-slave relationships than from white servants pairing with slaves or former slaves.

Humans may be weaning themselves of natural selection, effectively halting their own evolution.

Journalists often boast of writing the first draft of history, but they can get the story wrong. But historians ought to borrow their storytelling flair.

Scientists marvel over DNA's structure and coding, even as they puzzle why it seems to never change.

Truman Capote's 1970s flameout was so spectacular that it obscured his earlier, brighter years.

Sperm donation has involved into a multimillion-dollar industry, opening the way for parents to shop for the attributes they value highly.

A new study suggests charter schools may outperform public schools in producing proficient students.

Many observers have linked recent anti-Semitic episodes in France with the same ancient enmities that led to the Holocaust, but something new seems at work.

The author of Democracy in America sang the praises of the young republic, but later decried the "violent, intolerant, and lawless spirit" he saw in some parts of the country.

Book Reviews

David J. Garrow reviews an "impressively intelligent book" that takes a harsh look at recent scandals of scholarship.

As reviewer Charlotte Allen notes, "Anyone seriously interested in [Flannery O'Connor's] well-deserved place in America’s literary pantheon should take a look" at two new books.

Was the great playwright a lone genius, or simply an important part of a brilliant team?


America’s political and military efforts in the Middle East go by many names: War on terror. Clash of civilizations. Democratization. But our author argues that all of these undertakings grow from a fateful decision made decades ago that the American way of life requires unlimited access to foreign oil.

Andrew J. Bacevich

America’s falling dollar and mounting internationaldebt are not, as pundits often declare, the wages ofprofligacy and sin. They are the inevitable products of dysfunctional international financial arrangements—a system that now appears likely to come crashing down, with alarming implications for the American economy.

Robert Z. Aliber

With the death last year of Czeslaw Milosz, the world lost a Nobel Prize–winning poet and a singular voice of the 20th century. A survivor of Nazism and communism, Milosz refused to regard the world bleakly—or to retreat into the romantic illusions that beckoned to many of his fellow intellectuals. His intimate verses declare the individual’s connection to history, his spiritual autonomy, and his innate dignity.

Robert Royal

Down through the ages, philosophers and poets, politicians and theologians, friends and strangers have argued about the nature of happiness. They haven’t been able to settle on what happiness isexactly, but that hasn’t kept them from chasing it down. In the end, and the beginning, too, happiness may be a lot easier to experience than to define.

Darrin M. McMahon

Nearly 170 years ago, an upstart New York City newspaper reported that an astronomer had discovered life on the moon. For days, the paper regaled its readers with tales of winged humanoids and intelligent beavers, and the public bought the story. Why did so many readers believe it?

Paul Maliszewski

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