The Wilson Quarterly

Articles from Vol. 35, No. 3, Summer

An Internet for All Time
THE SOURCE: "A Memory of Webs Past" by Ariel Bleicher, in IEEE Spectrum, March 2011. EVER SINCE HUMANS LEARNED to write, they have collected their works into archives, seeking to convey their wisdom and history to future generations. The rise of...
A Reason for Reason
THE SOURCE: "Why Do Humans Reason? Arguments for an Argumentative Theory" by Hugo Mercier and Dan Sperber, in Behavioral and Brain Sciences, April 2011. FOR ALL ITS STELLAR ACHIEVEMENTS, human reason seems particularly ill suited to, well, reasoning....
Beauty, the Ultimate Survivor
THE SOURCE: "The Attack on Beauty" by Robert Boyers, in Salmagundi, Spring 2011. BEAUTY HAS NEVER HAD AN easy time, whether tinder scrutiny from suspicions Puritans or picky Renaissance critics, but the attack on beauty over the last century by...
Best Books about the Civil War: A Special Section on Books Past and Present
ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTY YEARS AGO, IN the wee hours of April 12, a mortar shell exploded above Fort Sumter, and the American Civil War began. As more than one of the contributors to this special edition of Current Books remarks, the four years of bloody...
Best Civil War Military Books
WHEN I WAS ASKED TO CHOOSE FIVE GREAT books on military aspects of the Civil War, I was initially thrilled, then perplexed. The Library of Congress, which by no means houses all Civil War volumes, has at least 100,000 books on the subject in its collections....
Beyond the Bully Pulpit: TR Famously Used the "Bully Pulpit" of the White House to Advance His Agenda. by the Time He Left Office, "Spin" Had Become a Fundamental Part the American Presidency
WHEN PRESIDENT WILLIAM MCKINLEY LED THE United States to war against Spain in the spring of 1898, no one was keener to see battle than Theodore Roosevelt. Scion of an upper-ernst New York City family and a Harvard graduate, the ambitious, brash assistant...
Big Religion
THE SOURCE: "American Postwar 'Big Religion': Reconceptualizing 20th-Century American Religion Using Big Science as a Model" by Benjamin E. Zeller, in Church History, June 2011. THE 20TH CENTURY SAW THE rise of the "bigs": big business, big government,...
Boys Rule: Earth Needs Women
Are girls vanishing? In India, the 2011 census found about 7.1 million fewer girls than boys below age six. The cause, Prabhat Jha and eight coauthors write in The Lancet (June 4), is a level of sex-selective abortion that's rising at a "remarkable"...
Comparing the Tippy Tops
THE SOURCE: "Top Incomes in the Long Run of History" by Anthony B. Atkinson, Thomas Piketty, and Emmanuel Saez, in Journal of Economic Literature, March 2011. THE EBB AND FLOW OF INCOME inequality over the last century is a well-examined feature...
For America, an Arab Winter: The Fall of Arab Autocrats Creates More Risks Than Opportunities for the United States. as Arab Political Horizons Expand, the Space for America to Pursue Its Interests May Well Contract
MARK TWAIN ONCE OBSERVED THAT HISTORY doesn't repeat; it rhymes. As America reacts to the dramatic changes sweeping the Arab world, it would be wise to keep Twain's insight in mind. These aren't quite secular revolutions like those of 1789 and 1917,...
Four Essential Books about Abraham Lincoln
[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED] NO FIGURE LOOMS OVER THE CIVIL WAR AS Abraham Lincoln does, and some 17,000 books--from "spiritual biographies" to business management guides--have been published to attest to the fact. The greatest of these were written by...
Good Fences Make Good Farms
THE SOURCE: "Barbed Wire: Property Rights and Agricultural Development" by Richard Hornbeck, in The Quarterly Journal of Economics, May 2010. IN THE MIDDLE OF THE 19TH century, farmers on the American plains had a problem: If cows and other livestock...
Graffiti Gets the Glory
THE SOURCE: "Radical Graffiti Chic" by Heather Mac Donald, in City Journal, Spring 2011. THE VOGUE FOR STREET ART among elite gallery owners and art collectors recently reached its apotheosis in a major museum exhibit at the Geffen Contemporary,...
Homeownership and Race
THE SOURCE: "Race and Home Ownership from the End of the Civil War to the Present" by William J. Collins and Robert A. Margo, in The American Economic Review, May 2011. IT'S UNSURPRISING THAT homeownership rates for blacks and whites have converged...
How Maps Made the World
THE SOURCE: "Mapping the Sovereign State: Technology, Authority, and Systemic Change" by Jordan Branch, in International Organization, Winter 2011. IT'S HARD TO IMAGINE A world without modern nation-states as we know them--their power, relationships,...
How Stuxnet Changed the World
THE SOURCE: "Rise of a Cybered Westphalian Age" by Chris C. Demchak and Peter Dombrowski, in Strategic Studies Quarterly, Spring 2011. IF THE INTERNET EVER TRULY existed as a free and open global commons, that era vanished forever last year with...
If North Korea Falls
THE SOURCE: "The Long Goodbye: The Future North Korea" by Robert D. Kaplan and Abraham M. Denmark, in world Affairs, May-June 2011. OVER THE LAST 50 YEARS, Northeast Asia has been transformed from a remote backwater devastated by war into the crossroads...
India's Vulture Void
THE SOURCE: "India's Vanishing Vultures" by Meera Subramanian, in Virginia Quarterly Review, Spring 2011. IT'S NOT EASY TO MUSTER EMPATHY for eaters of the dead. But in India, a precipitous drop in the native vulture population, from 50 million...
Latin America Rising
THE SOURCE: "The Post-American Hemisphere" by Russell Crandall, in Foreign Affairs, May-June 2011. WHY HAS THERE NEVER BEEN A military coup in Washington? Because there's no U.S. embassy there. So goes an old Latin American joke. But according...
Merit Pay for Congress?
THE SOURCE: "Fixing Congress" by Jim Cooper, in Boston Review, May-June 2011. CONGRESS IS BROKEN. THIS little piece of political analysis is a favorite of the chattering class. But do things look so bad to someone on the inside? At least to Representative...
My Favorite Civil War Novels
"THE REAL WAR WILL NEVER GET INTO THE books." So wrote Walt Whitman, who witnessed the Civil War close up as a volunteer nurse in war hospitals in Washington, D.C. As effective as his war writings are, one can read them and yet acknowledge the truth...
My Road to the Civil War
AS WE BEGIN MOVING THROUGH THE SESQUICENTENNIAL commemoration of the American Civil War, my mind returns to the time more than a half-century ago when I decided to become a historian of the Civil War era. Unlike many of my friends and colleagues, I...
No Rip for Print
THE SOURCES: Introduction to volume 37, by the editors, McSweeney's Quarterly Concern, Spring 2011, and "Five Myths About the 'Information Age" by Robert Darnton, in The ChronideReview, April 17, 2011. THE EDITORS OF McSWEENEY'S Quarterly Concern...
No Small Wonder
THE SOURCE: "Making Our Democracy Work: The Yale Lectures" by Stephen Breyer, in The Yale Law Journal, June 2011, JUDICIAL REVIEW--THE DOCtrine that gives the Supreme Court the power to invalidate unconstitutional laws and actions--may seem like...
No Thanks, Mr. Kant
THE SOURCE: "In Defense of Politics" by Steven B. Smith, in National Affairs, Spring 2011. THE DREAM OF A WORLD WITHout politics lives on. It would be a world without national governments, ruled by international law. German philosopher Immanuel...
Parenthood's Second Wind
THE SOURCE: "A Global Perspective on Happiness and Fertility" by Rachel Margolis and Mikko Myrskyla, in Population and Development Review, March 2011. MANY PEOPLE THINK OF PARENTHOOD as one of the defining joys of their lives. But lots of studies...
Party Time: Hispanics on the Fence
At first glance, the growing number of Hispanics in the United States looks like great news for the Democrats. In last year's elections for Congress, Democrats attracted some 60 percent of the Hispanic vote, while Republicans got just 38 percent. Hispanics...
Philosophy for the Few
THE SOURCE: "Philosophy That's Not for the Masses" by James Ladyman, in The Philosopher's Magazine, Second Quarter 2011. IT'S A COMMON CHARGE THAT philosophers do little of practical value and fail to make their work relevant and accessible to the...
Putting Free Will to the Test
THE SOURCE: "Experimental Philosophy and the Problem of Free Will" by Shaun Nichols, in Science, March 18, 2011. DO HUMANS HAVE FREE WILL? The question is as old as dirt. Now experimental philosophers are trying to gain insight into the issue in...
Say Yes to Nukes
THE SOURCE: "Thinking About the Unthinkable, Again" by Mark Helprin, in Claremont Review of Books, Winter 2010-Spring 2011. FOR DECADES, THE WORLD HAS lived with the threat of nuclear war, but the dreaded mushroom clouds haven't appeared. Now the...
Stingless Authoritarianism
THE SOURCE: "Paradoxes of the New Authoritarianism" by Ivan Krastev, in Journal of Democracy, April 2011. IN THE 20 YEARS SINCE THE collapse of communism, democracy has not exactly flourished in the post-Soviet lands. Instead, a new variety of authoritarianism...
Suspicious Minds: Birthers, Truthers, and Blind Faith
Before President Obama released his long-form birth certificate in April, polls found that nearly half of Republicans believed that he had been born outside the United States. But the Right doesn't hold a monopoly on wacky conspiracy theories, Ben...
The Little Island That Could
THE SOURCE: "Mauritius: African Success Story" by Jeffrey A. Frankel, in National Bureau of Economic Research Digest, May 2011. TINY MAURITIUS, AN ISLAND nation in the Indian Ocean, is one of the richest, healthiest, and best-governed sub-Saharan...
The Long Revolt: The Arab World's Wave of Change Was a Century in the Making. Why Expect Its Effects to Become Dear in the Space of Months?
WE ARE WITNESSING TODAY THE CULMINATION of a century of Arab popular straggle for freedom and sovereignty. That struggle was interrupted by many decades of often illusory statehood under the reign of autocrats who were enthusiastically supported by...
Then: Leader of the Free World. Now:?
THE U.S. INTERVENTION IN LIBYA IN MARCH added new urgency to a long-simmering debate in Washington over America's role in world affairs. In April, The National Conversation, a new signature series of the Woodrow Wilson Center designed to provide a...
The Origins of the Sunni Awakening
THE SOURCE: "Explaining the Awakening: Engagement, Publicity, and the Transformation of Iraqi Sunni Political Attitudes" by Mare Lynch, in Security Studies, Jan. 2011. FROM 2005 TO 2007, A CHANGE in sentiment rippled across Iraq--the Sunni population...
The Pink Hijab: The Arab Revolts of 2011 Have Transformed the Image of the Islamic World. One Young Egyptian Woman's Struggle Reflects the Scope of Change-And Shows How Long It Has Been in Coming
[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED] THE GREATEST WAVE OF EMPOWERMENT in the early 21st century has produced a new political chic. It has been shaped by conditions conspicuously ripe for unrest. A youth bulge altered the generational balance of power. Rising...
The WikiLeaks Illusion: WikiLeaks' Tsunami of Revelations from U.S. Government Sources Last Year Did Not Change the World, but It Did Change WikiLeaks
LATE LAST NOVEMBER, THE ANTISECRECY GROUP WikiLeaks achieved the greatest triumph in its short history. A consortium of major news media organizations--including The New York Times, The Guardian, Der Spiegel, Le Monde, and El Pais--began publishing...
Three Cheers for Blue-Ribbon Panels: It Is Easy to Scoff at the Prestigious Commissions That Constantly Sprout in Washington as Empty Exercises in Buck Passing-Until You Take Stock of All They Have Accomplished
A STUNNING PAGE-ONE WARNING LED OFF THE January 2001 report of the U.S. Commission on National Security/21st Century. The rise of terrorism and unconventional weapons, it said, "will end the relative invulnerability of the U.S. homeland.... A direct...
What Economists Can Learn from History
THE SOURCE: "Economics, History, and Causation" by Randall Morek and Bernard Yeung, in Business History Review, Spring 2011. CONTEMPORARY ECONOMICS IS totally in the thrall of advanced mathematical techniques. Economists should break the spell,...
What like a Bullet Can Undeceive!
"HOW SLOWLY OUR LITERATURE GROWS UP!" Nathaniel Hawthorne groused in 1845, never imagining that soon a bloody conflagration would catapult the country's literature out of a protracted adolescence. Gertrude Stein, writing almost a hundred years later,...
Who Wants a Tax Break?
THE SOURCE: "Culture, Context, and the Taste for Redistribution" by Erzo F. P. Luttmer and Monica Singhal, in American Economic Journal: Econnomic Policy,, Feb, 2011, IN THE HYPER-RATIONAL WORLD described by neoclassical economists, individuals...
Writing the New Rules of the Game: In Egypt, the Next Important Battles over the Political Future Will Be Waged with Law Books and Computer Keyboards
THE FLEDGLING DEMOCRACIES IN EGYPT AND Tunisia that emerged from the Arab Spring face extraordinary challenges in the months and years ahead. In democratizing countries, the institutions you start out with and the process you use to reform them can...
X Marks the Subject
THINK OF THE NOTION OF "territory", and tangible images come to mind: geographers peering at clearly defined countries on maps, defiant animals growling at intruders. According to Charles Maier, the Leverett Saltonstall Professor of History at Harvard...