The Washington Monthly

An independent monthly magazine devoted to politics, government, culture, and the media in America, from a progressive perspective. Publishes investigative and opinion-based feature articles by notable authors, short news items, humorous sidebars, and boo

Articles from Vol. 44, No. 11-12, November-December

Act of Recovery: Only One National Reporter, Michael Grunwald, Bothered to Take a Detailed Look at How Well the $787 Billion Stimulus Was Spent. What He Discovered Confounds the Beltway Conventional Wisdom
The New New Deal: The Hidden Story of Change in the Obama Era by Michael Grunwald Simon and Schuster, 528 pp. [ILLUSTRATION OMITTED] Twenty-eight days after taking the oath of office, Barack Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment...
Brass Backwards: Thomas Ricks Explains the Declining Competence of America's Senior Military Commanders
The Generals: American Military Command from World War II to Today by Thomas E. Ricks Simon and Schuster, 528 pp. [ILLUSTRATION OMITTED] Tom Ricks, the former Washington Post military correspondent who covered the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan...
Drone On: It's Probably a Matter of When, Not If, Al-Qaeda in Yemen Successfully Strikes the U.S. Yet the Drone Attacks Currently Keeping the Organization at Bay Are Also Helping Recruit More Terrorists. Can You Say "No-Win Situation"?
The Last Refuge: Yemen, al-Qaeda, and America's War in Arabia by Gregory D. Johnsen W.W. Nortons & Company, 352 pp. [ILLUSTRATION OMITTED] Early last year, wandering through the turbulent carnival of Change Square in Sana'a, Yemen,...
George W. Bush, on the Ballot Again
One early summer day in 2000 I was summoned to the Oval Office along with several other White House staffers to get instructions from President Bill Clinton on what he wanted to say in his upcoming speech at the Democratic National Convention in Los...
How We Could Blow the Energy Boom: America's Vast New Surplus of Natural Gas Could Lead to Greater Prosperity and a Cleaner Environment. but If We Don't Fix Our Decrepit, Blackout-Prone Electric Grid, We Could Wind Up Sitting in the Dark
[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED] For the first time in four decades, spanning the last eight presidents, America is poised to break free of its energy crisis. The country finds itself suddenly awash in domestic energy, especially new supplies of natural gas...
Last Call: Industry Giants Are Threatening to Swallow Up America's Carefully Regulated Alcohol Industry, and Remake America in the Image of Booze-Soaked Britain
[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED] England has a drinking problem. Since 1990, teenage alcohol consumption has doubled. Since World War II, alcohol intake for the population as a whole has doubled, with a third of that increase occurring since just 1995. The...
Memoirs of an Academic Fraudster: Inside the Shadowy Business of Ghostwriting College Students' Papers
The Shadow Scholar: How I Made a Living Helping College Kids Cheat by Dave Tomar Bloomsbury, 272 pp. [ILLUSTRATION OMITTED] Academic paper mills--the companies that write papers for students--don't really advertise. One doesn't see their...
Obama's Game of Chicken: The Untold Story of How the Administration Tried to Stand Up to Big Agricultural Companies on Behalf of Independent Farmers, and Lost
[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED] In May 2010, Garry Staples left his chicken farm in Steele, Alabama, to take part in a historic hearing in Normal, an hour and a half away. The decision to go wasn't easy. The big processing companies that farmers rely...
Spread Too Thin: Scholars Have Discovered That Certain Everyday Food Items Have Played Pivotal Roles in the History of Civilization. Apparently, Peanut Butter Is Not One of Them
Creamy & Crunchy: An Informal History of Peanut Butter, he All-American Food by Jon Krampner Columbia University Press, 320 pp. [ILLUSTRATION OMITTED] The average person, I would wager, knows approximately three things about peanut...
The Conservative War on Prisons: Right-Wing Operatives Have Decided That Prisons Are a Lot like Schools: Hugely Expensive, Inefficient, and in Need of Root-and-Branch Reform. Is This How Progress Will Happen in a Hyper-Polarized World?
[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED] American streets are much safer today than they were thirty years ago, and until recently most conservatives had a simple explanation: more prison beds equal less crime. This argument was a fulcrum of Republican politics for...
Tilting at Windmills
[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED] President, dictator, whatever In the long parade of books on the topic of what Obama could or should have done, which began with Ron Suskind's Confidence Men, the silliest of all has to be Bob Woodward's The Price of Politics....
Up from Independence: Harry Truman Was a Classic American Striver, and a Failure, until War and Politics Intervened
Citizen Soldier: A Life of Harry S. Truman by Aida D. Donald Basic Books, 288 pp. [ILLUSTRATION OMITTED] "He was one of our great presidents, wasn't he?" So remarked a leading local attorney I know--a longtime pillar of the Republican...