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Forum

Roundtable discussions of contemporary issues by the academics, writers, and thinkers who know them best.

Combat High

Afew months before the United States invaded Iraq, in 2003, Donald Rumsfeld, the defense secretary at the time, was asked on a radio show how long the war would take.…

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The Minds of Others

Progress is impossible without change,” George Bernard Shaw wrote in 1944, “and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.” But progress through persuasion has never seemed harder to…

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Destroyer of Worlds

In February 1947, Harper’s Magazine published Henry L. Stimson’s “The Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb.” As secretary of war, Stimson had served as the chief military adviser to President…

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Berkeley Springs, West Virginia

The Kesecker family has been farming in Morgan County for seventy years. In the spring of 2016, a company called Mountaineer Gas offered them a small sum of money if…

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Iowa City, Iowa

Like the country as a whole, Iowa has a Republican chief executive and a Republican-controlled legislature that creates problems where they need not exist, problems that look like the effects…

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Ojai Valley, California

Beginning in 2011, a historic drought struck California. It was officially declared over this April, largely because of rainfall in the northern half of the state. Parts of the south,…

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All Over this Land

Last year, when the Pew Research Center asked Americans where they got information about the election, local newspapers were at the bottom of the list. (Cable news and social media…

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Rensselaer County, New York

The latest issue that has come before our village board is whether to add an animal-control regulation to the village laws. A member of the public has come to one…

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Ravalli County, Montana

In the summer of 2016, the Roaring Lion fire destroyed 8,500 acres across western Montana. Fighting the blaze, which required nine helicopters and 735 firefighters and other personnel, cost $11…

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Tucson, Arizona

Every weekday at the federal courthouse in Tucson, Arizona, undocumented migrants are gathered in a courtroom and made to face the judge’s pulpit like shackled parishioners. Most of them are…

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Argyle, Texas

In June 2013, Governor Rick Perry signed into law the Protection of Texas Children Act, which authorized K–12 schools to designate employees who could carry weapons — and use them,…

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San Francisco

Since Inauguration Day, across Silicon Valley I’ve been hearing software engineers who earn six figures talk about solidarity, collective action, and the rise of labor against capital. In July, word…

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DeLisle, Mississippi

When I was six, a pit bull tried to rip out my throat. I was walking down my parents’ oystershell driveway when the dog attacked me, probably because another dog,…

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Omaha, Nebraska

North 24th Street used to be the center of a close-knit African-American community in North Omaha. When Jade Rogers was born, her grandparents, aunts, and uncles all lived nearby. But…

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Miami

On May 13, 2017, I was standing on the back of a pickup truck and addressing a couple hundred or so protesters gathered in front of the Miami field office…

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Haleiwa, Hawaii

When people in Hawaii first learned of North Korea’s latest threat — that it might soon launch a preemptive strike that could obliterate our lovely islands with a nuclear bomb…

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Trump: A Resister’s Guide

We have a new president who is also a new kind of president. Our previous chief executives — at least those of the post–World War II era — were not…

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Tearing Up the Map

As Barack Obama prepares to vacate the Oval Office after two terms, he has earned an odd distinction: the United States has been at war every day of his tenure,…

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On Being a Stepparent

In my mid-forties, I married a man who had joint custody of two children, both boys, from a previous marriage. The boys, Jed and Jason, were nineteen and fifteen. Not…

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Fever

My eleven-year-old daughter, Lola, is short for her age, wiry, and fast. Her body type and skill set are not ideally suited to basketball, yet this is the sport she…

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In Praise of Boredom

The world into which I was born no longer exists, of course. I’ve been around for almost half a century, so it was inevitable. My parents — one French, raised…

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How to Be a Parent

These are tough times for parents. Not because child rearing has gotten any harder — it’s the same as it ever was — but because we are newly overrich in hand-wringing books…

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The Grand Shattering

I never wanted to be a mother. I wanted to be a person. My identity crisis began at age three, when I wanted to be Popeye but realized that I…

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Notes on Some Twentieth-Century Writers

Flannery O’Connor: No children. Eudora Welty: No children. One children’s book. Katherine Anne Porter: No children, many miscarriages. Hilary Mantel, Janet Frame, Willa Cather, Jane Bowles, Patricia Highsmith, Elizabeth Bishop,…

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Curling Parents and Little Emperors

Soon after my book Bringing Up Bébé appeared, in 2012, I discovered an animated video made by a company in Taiwan. In it, a woman who’s supposed to be me…

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Self-Portrait with Daughters

It was summer and I was a new father, to eight-month-old daughters. I was the pilot of a car trip: New York City to somewhere near Lake Michigan — a…

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Part Neither, Part Both

The hospital room in which I recovered from my caesarean section was as cold and ugly as any hospital room anywhere, but because it was high on a hill in…

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October 2019