Cover Story

Medication Nation

Our increasing reliance on drugs—prescribed, over-the-counter, illegal, and ordered online like pizza—suggests we have a deeper problem

by Philip Alcabes


How Chemistry Became Biology

And how LUCA, Earth’s first living cell, became Lucas, my adorable grandnephew

by Priscilla Long


The advent of new religions in the 1800s led to fierce debates that persist today

by Susan Jacoby

My Newfoundland

The sensations of landing on the island long ago haunted a writer’s final memories

by Paul West

A Life in Letters

A decades-long correspondence with the Italian writer Arturo Vivante covered it all: hardship, love, and the endurance of art

by Merrill Joan Gerber

Where the Heart Is

A grandmother’s life in five moves, from Hitler’s Europe to the American Midwest

by Leslie Berlin


Editor's Note


Robert Wilson

Letter From …

Letter from the Aral Sea: All Dried Up

Jeffrey Tayler

Tuning Up

Evolution by Other Means

Ian Tattersall

Commonplace Book

Winter 2016

Anne Matthews


Real Papa

Onyinye Ihezukwu



Langdon Hammer

Four Poems

Sandra M. Gilbert

Works in Progress

Climate Change in a New Light

Margaret Foster

Waves of Change

Simon Winchester

Spotted Opera

Our Editors

The Rap’s the Thing

Chloe Taft

Off the Charts

Brad Edmondson

Back to the Country

Charlotte Salley

Back Talk


Ralph Keyes


The Phaedra Syndrome

Desire, denial, and the making of compelling TV

André Aciman

Vermeer and the Art of Solitude

Some works are not meant to be blockbusters

Sudip Bose

Jacob A. Riis: The Other Half

A retrospective at the Museum of the City of New York

Our Editors

Book Essay

Book Reviews

A Model Marriage

An intimate portrait of a couple who helped forge a nation

Mary Beth Norton

Son of Gonzo

Living in the aftermath of sex, drugs, and rock ’n’ roll

Scott Stossel

Riddles for the Afterlife

Decoding the hieroglyphs that accompanied the dead pharaohs

Sarah Ruden

Hail to the Chiefs

Leaders of the last century

Michael Sherry

Taken to the Leader

Why did Pyongyang kidnap several dozen Japanese?

Bruce Cumings

Hot Rocks

A scientist’s love of lava

Sarah Zielinski

Speaking in Tongues

The ancient, tangled roots of modern language

Michael Upchurch