The American Quest for Redemption
In a nation born with a sense that it had a redemptive mission in the world, the urge to take what is bad and turn it into something good often turns obsessively inward. The results can be surprising.
Still the Redeemer Nation
The ceaseless quest for redemption in politics and culture is one of the chronic infirmities of American national life. But God forbid we should ever give it up.
More Stories From This Issue
America’s Prisons: The End of Second Acts?
The mass warehousing of convicts is a sign of America’s faltering belief in second chances. Considering how individuals atone for their crimes can help us restore rehabilitation as an ideal.
What Qualifies Someone to Write a ‘Self-Help’ Book?
Feel free to help yourself: there is a booming market for self-improvement guides.
Star Wars: the Rise of Online Review Culture
Online review culture — on sites like Yelp, Amazon, and IMDb — is dotted with black holes of bad taste.
How American Isolationism Would Make the World Less Safe
Pulling back from America’s global commitments would amount to a “massive experiment.”
Burning Encyclopedia Britannica
Print encyclopedias once occupied a privileged cultural position — even if owners seldom consulted them.
Are genetically diverse countries more successful?
Did genetic diversity play a decisive role in determining which lands would hit the economic jackpot?
The wrong way to move people out of the ghetto
Moving poor people to better neighborhoods has a surprising effect.
How soldiers got the right to a burial in a cemetery
Until the Civil War, hasty burials on the battlefield were the norm.
There’s no 50/50 political split in America. It’s more like 35/25/40.
A growing number of Americans don’t identify with either political party.
Has the patent outlived its usefulness?
Patents used to protect intellectual property. Now they stifle innovation.
One-third of the world’s poor weren’t born poor; they fell into it
One effective way to fight poverty: prevent people from falling into it.
Has congress surrendered its constitutional powers to the president?
Congress has shirked its weighty constitutional responsibilities, says one former senator.
Does hearing a word like “wrinkle” cause you to walk like an old man?
Social psychologists call it “priming,” and it’s a topic of much debate.
The rewards of being wrong about nuclear war
America’s Cold War wizards botched many predictions. But that was often for the better.
What’s the key to happiness? Ask Nicaragua’s garbage-pickers.
Thwarting conventional wisdom, the impoverished of León report high rates of happiness. Why?