Cover Story

The Fear Factor

Long-held predictions of economic chaos as baby boomers grow old are based on formulas that are just plain wrong

by Lincoln Caplan


4 Popes, 4 Saints, One New Guy

Perhaps you’ve heard the news from Rome. But what does it really have to do with the man from Assisi?

by Ingrid D. Rowland

Keep Smiling

An agnostic sermon

by Jan Morris

On Visitors

When the Bachelor Girl and the Red Death come calling, are they mirrors for our eccentricities?

by Ann Beattie

Proust Goes to the Country Club

At a largely forgettable class reunion, remembrances of things past

by Willard Spiegelman

A Prophet Without Honor

There’s no authoritative biography yet for Joseph Smith, the notorious founding figure in Mormonism

by Alex Beam


Editor's Note

The Aging Boom

Robert Wilson

Tuning Up

Two Philosophers

David Lehman

Commonplace Book


Anne Matthews



Hannah Pittard



Jill Bialosky

Works in Progress

The Art in Amusement

Chloe Taft

Cheap Microscope, Big Promise

Vicki Valosik

China, Up Close

Evan Osnos

Who’d Have Thunk It?

Jennifer Henderson

Achy Breaky Verdi

Sasha Ingber

Back Talk

Things Not Quite Said

Ralph Keyes


The Music of Painting

Seventeenth-century debates over content and form, color and line, and artifice and reality are as relevant today as ever

Lincoln Perry

Book Essay

The Autobiography of Biography

In which I tell how I was drawn again and again to the lives of African-American figures, and found in them the story of our times

David Levering Lewis

Book Reviews

Man of the World

Well-traveled and erudite, John Quincy Adams sometimes had trouble appealing to his countrymen

Annette Gordon-Reed

The Skeptic

A critic’s cranky charm

Steven Lagerfeld

Numbers Game

The problems of solutions

Owen Gingerich

Dangerous Liaison

A CIA officer’s many faces

Steven Simon

We, Not Me

A writer feels our pain

Gary Greenberg

Beyond the Colonies

What else happened during the year of independence?

Andrew Graybill