First Look

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First Look

Steven Lagerfeld

WQ editor Steven Lagerfeld introduces the Summer 2011 issue.

Read Time:
1m 32sec

This is an issue of firsts. Never before has the WQ’s Current Books section been devoted entirely to a single subject, as it is with this issue’s focus on the Civil War in honor of the war’s sesquicentennial. Literary editor Sarah Courteau has created a delightful and informative assemblage of reviews and short essays covering everything from the war’s great leaders and battles to novels that capture the trials and tribulations of the anonymous millions who were caught up in the conflict. Best of all, to my mind, the section is much like a battlefield itself in a rare moment free of smoke and haze, with the many contending arguments about the origins and consequences of America’s great war visible to all. 

There’s another first in this issue: All of our feature articles are authored by current or past scholars and staff members of the Woodrow Wilson Center. That doesn’t mean we’re becoming a house organ—it’s just a happy coincidence that testifies to the extraordinary intellectual breadth and strength of the Center. These writers treat subjects ranging from American history to foreign affairs, and their perspectives often clash. In our cover cluster on the Middle East, “What Next?” you will read four extremely knowledgeable authors with different takes on what to expect in the wake of the Arab Spring.
The Center’s new director, president, and CEO, Jane Harman, has inaugurated a series of debates and discussions called The National Conversation with the goal of promoting more informed and civil discourse about our national challenges. That’s very much in the spirit of what the WQ has sought to do for 35 years. It’s a great conversation. Join it.