The American Quest for Redemption

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Table of Contents


The ceaseless quest for redemption in politics and culture is one of the chronic infirmities of American national life. But God forbid we should ever give it up.

Wilfred M. McClay

The mass warehousing of convicts is a sign of America’s faltering belief in second chances. Considering how individuals atone for their crimes can help us restore rehabilitation as an ideal.

Charles Barber & Shadd Maruna
Sheryl Sandberg is the COO of Google, and the author of a book for women juggling their professional and family lives, "Lean In." NADINE RUPP / GETTY IMAGES

There is a booming market for self-improvement guides among Americans eager to redeem themselves from the sins of sloth, gluttony, or general discontent. But what qualifies one person to tell another how best to live?

Sarah L. Courteau

Online review culture is dotted with black holes of bad taste.

Tom Vanderbilt

In Essence

Pulling back from America’s global commitments would amount to a “massive experiment.”

On the unlikely origins of the slide guitar.

Photo of the 11th Edition of Encyclopaedia Britannica by Stewart Butterfield via Flickr

Print encyclopedias once occupied a privileged cultural position—even if owners seldom consulted them.

Did genetic diversity play a decisive role in determining which lands would hit the economic jackpot?

Photo of Tea Party protest by Sage Ross via Flickr

A growing number of Americans don’t identify with either political party.

Patent drawing of a shopping cart by John V. Ondrasik via

Patents used to protect intellectual property. Now they stifle innovation.

One-third of the world’s poor were not born in poverty. They fell into it.

Photo of psychologist Daniel Kahneman by LSE in Pictures via Flickr

Does hearing words such as “wrinkles” and “Florida” make you walk like an old person?

Book Reviews

William Egan Colby and the CIA.
By Randall B. Woods. Basic Books. 546 pp. $29.99

A Mind-Expanding Exploration of the Way the World Looks.
By Simon Garfield. Gotham. 464 pp. $27.50

The Folly of Technological Solutionism.
By Evgeny Morozov. PublicAffairs. 415 pp. $28.99

Three Schools, One City, and the Struggle to Educate America’s Children.
By Sarah Carr. Bloomsbury. 316 pp. $27.00

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