Cover Story

A New Birth of Reason

Robert Ingersoll, the Great Agnostic, inspired late-19th-century Americans to uphold the founders’ belief in separation of church and state

by Susan Jacoby


On Friendship

The intimacies shared with our closest companions keep us anchored, vital, and alive

by Edward Hoagland

Our Imperiled World

It took billions of years to make the earth habitable for humans. A distinguished astronomer warns the United Nations how quickly that can be reversed.

by Owen Gingerich

Water in the Empty Part of the Map

The treacherous quest for the source of the Nile was the downfall of John Hanning Speke

by Sierra Bellows

Survival Skills at a School in LA

Street killings of students are so familiar in South Central that kids practice their own grim rituals

by Anne P. Beatty

A Song for Molly

In which I tell how I fell hard for a dog, why I have problems with women, and what I know about Ludwig Wittgenstein

by Jeremy Bernstein


Editor's Note

Monkey Business

Robert Wilson

Letter From …

Madrid: Dignity and Indignation

Aaron Shulman

Tuning Up

It’s Only Oblivion

Debra Monroe


Wait and See

Edith Pearlman


David Huddle

Commonplace Book

The Rich

Anne Matthews


Eviction Noticed

Bruce Falconer


Old Gods and Young Ghosts

Langdon Hammer

Four Poems

Robin Robertson

Works in Progress


Jennifer Henderson


Emily Ochoa

Drawing Conclusions

Chloe Taft

Walk This Way

Jeff Speck

Willy Wonka, M.D.

Tom Bentley

Unearthing With Google

Jessica Wilde

Leaf It to a Physicist

Sam Kean

Update, Brooklyn Bridge Park

Allen Freeman

Book Essay

Happily Ever After

The folk tales gathered by the Brothers Grimm not only enchant us; they record the hardships European families endured for centuries

Wendy Smith

Book Reviews

Totalitarianism in Practice

Terror as a way of life in East Germany, Poland, and Hungary

Gary Saul Morson

No Sentiment

Baudelaire’s shock of the new

Peter Fritzsche

Fantastic Visions

Not crazy, just creative

T. M. Luhrmann

Paint Fight

Two titans of art go head to head

Ingrid D. Rowland