In the glory days of Bill Clinton’s presidency, I thought Hillary was a beacon of hope for women everywhere. Now she seems like Bill in women’s clothing. And is there anyone who doesn’t assume she will be the Democratic nominee in 2016? With that assumption in mind, Doug Henwood sets out to assess Hillary’s progression toward that shining moment. Perhaps unsurprisingly, everyone he talks with has nothing but praise for the presumptive candidate—yet even her most ardent supporters seem unable to articulate exactly why she should be in the White House. What, then, is the case for Hillary? As Henwood writes, “She has experience, she’s a woman, and it’s her turn,” though it’s “hard to find any substantive political argument in her favor.” In considering Hillary’s likely candidacy, Henwood delves back into the historical record—which turns up some surprising, and alarming, details that most people have either forgotten or never knew.
In this month’s report, the London-based journalist James Harkin explains how the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (now simply referred to as the Islamic State) came to power. Through extensive interviews—with Islamic State fighters, with opponents of the group, and with potential, disquietingly eager recruits—Harkin deepens our understanding of what is currently the most successful (and most brutal) militia in the Middle East.
We’re all uneasy about the way animals are treated on factory farms. In “Cage Wars,” Deb Olin Unferth visits one such facility in Michigan, home to 2 million egg-laying hens. There she is shown the new “enriched” cages—each one twelve feet long, four feet wide, and containing more than seventy-five hens—which are slightly roomier than traditional “battery” cages but hardly what you would call spacious. These are the options available for most of the 295 million hens in this country, who produced 82 billion eggs last year. Until our taste for eggs abates, Unferth argues, these factory farms are the only way to meet demand—and they will continue to be a source of contention between industry scientists and animal advocates.
In “Off the Land,” David Treuer returns to the scenes of his childhood in Minnesota to explore the hardships and benefits of subsistence living. He accompanies Bob Matthews, a local legend, as Matthews collects wild rice and pine cones, which he sells to tree-seed farms and craft stores, and traps leeches and minnows, which he sells to bait shops in the region.
Also in this issue: John Crowley on a ubiquitous but puzzling piece of editorial advice; photographs of Ferguson, Missouri, that we haven’t seen before, by Philip Montgomery; Meghan O’Rourke reviews Marilynne Robinson’s new novel, Lila; Jenny Diski discusses the history of Wonder Woman; excerpts from a new play about the friendship between Georges Clemenceau and Claude Monet and from Rachel Kushner’s new novel, The Strange Case of Rachel K.