Cover Story

The Embattled First Amendment

The Supreme Court is interpreting free speech in new ways that threaten our democracy

by Lincoln Caplan


A Terrible Loss

Lincoln’s assassination 150 years ago turned plans for postwar reconciliation to a frenzy of violence

by Jonathan W. White

Kill the Creature

In search of snakes—and the balm of charity and love in a world of infinitely lonely space

by Christian Wiman

Confessing and Confiding

Knowing the difference between the two can elevate an essay from therapy to art

by Emily Fox Gordon

Failure to Heal

Today’s medical industry thrives on diagnosing and curing, but it doesn’t reach the soul

by Philip Alcabes

Meeting the Mystics

My California encounters with Gerald Heard and Aldous Huxley

by Sissela Bok


Editor's Note

Zip It

Robert Wilson

Tuning Up

No Wonder It Quakes

Jordan Kisner

Commonplace Book


Anne Matthews


River Song

Sydney Blair



Langdon Hammer

Four Poems

Alan Williamson

Works in Progress

Above and Beyond

Vicki Valosik

Doomed to Re-Tweet It

Stephanie Bastek

Whither American Culture?

Scott Timberg

Cooking Up Trouble in the Heartland

Chloe Taft


Tom Bentley

Autism and Genetics

Emily Ochoa

Break With the Cast

Vicki Valosik

Back Talk

Of Two Minds

Ralph Keyes


Great Escape

On Normandy’s coast a century ago, Claude Debussy fled the war and composed his final piano masterpiece

Sudip Bose

In Search of Mister Gustave

Who is the inspiration for the Grand Budapest’s concierge?

Elena S. Danielson

Road Show

The woodblock prints of Utagawa Hiroshige

Sudip Bose

States of Change

The new American quarter and the decline of civilization

Lincoln Perry

Book Essay

Reflections on Alexis de Tocqueville

What is the place of the artist in a democratic society?

Saul Bellow

Book Reviews

Hearts With One Purpose

A revealing group portrait of Ireland’s motley crew of rebels

George O’Brien

A Taste for Higher Math

The numbers that count

Natalie Angier

Two Dutch Visionaries

How the optical revolution revealed worlds large and small

Graeme Wood

“You Cannot Refine It”

From victory to annihilation, the evolving nature of combat

John Nagl

Proust Imperfect

The Englishman who interpreted France’s greatest novel

Anka Muhlstein

Meeting the Test of Time

Why some wordsmiths stay and others fade away

Stanley Plumly