Henry Ward Beecher.

When Preachers Were Rock Stars

A classic New Yorker account of the Henry Ward Beecher adultery trial recalls a time in America that seems both incomprehensible and familiar.
Charlie Chaplin in a still from “The Great Dictator.”

The War on Charlie Chaplin

He was one of the world’s most celebrated and beloved stars. Then his adopted country turned against him.
Black students walking a gauntlet of white students to enter Clinton High School.

Why Did They Bomb Clinton High School?

It was the first Southern school to be integrated by court order, and the town reluctantly prepared to comply. Then an acolyte of Ezra Pound’s showed up.
Axe chopping down columns

The Rise and Fall of Neoliberalism

The free market used to be touted as the cure for all our problems; now it’s taken to be the cause of them.
Illustration by Cristina Spano, picturing rulers and colorful shapes and designs coming out of the neck of a collared shirt

The Origins of Creativity

The concept was devised in postwar America, in response to the cultural and commercial demands of the era. Now we’re stuck with it.
Drawing of a voting booth on top of a gerrymandered district with a saw cutting the floor out from under it.

American Democracy Was Never Designed to Be Democratic

The partisan redistricting tactics of cracking and packing aren’t merely flaws in the system—they are the system.
Yoko Ono looking pensive.

Yoko Ono’s Art of Defiance

Before she met John Lennon, she was a significant figure in avant-garde circles and had created masterpieces. Did celebrity deprive her of her due as an artist?
Middle finger that says "Millenial" and Fist that says "Gen Z"

It’s Time to Stop Talking About “Generations”

From boomers to zoomers, the concept gets social history all wrong.
The writer (seen here in a picture from the eighteen-eighties) hid his own life story.

Are All Short Stories O. Henry Stories?

The writer’s signature style of ending—a final, thrilling note—has the touch of magic that distinguishes the form at its best.

Joseph McCarthy and the Force of Political Falsehoods

McCarthy never sent a single “subversive” to jail, but, decades later, the spirit of his conspiracy-mongering endures.
Lou Gehrig holding a baseball bat

How Baseball Players Became Celebrities

Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth transformed America’s pastime by becoming a new kind of star.
Margaret Mead in front of a bookshelf, with a book in hand

How Cultural Anthropologists Redefined Humanity

A brave band of scholars set out to save us from racism and sexism. What happened?

The Misconception About Baby Boomers and the Sixties

Other than being alive during the 1960s, the baby boomers had almost nothing to do with the era's social and political upheaval.

The Declaration Heard Around the World

The declaration's words and sentiments have inspired nations and movements around the world.

“1984” at Seventy

Why we still read Orwell’s book of prophecy.

The Supreme Court Case That Enshrined White Supremacy in Law

How Plessy v. Ferguson shaped the history of racial discrimination in America.

Literary Hoaxes and the Ethics of Authorship

What happens when we find out writers aren't who they said they were.
Francis Fukuyama

Francis Fukuyama Postpones the End of History

The political scientist argues that the desire of identity groups for recognition is a key threat to liberalism.

Lessons from the Election of 1968

Protests, populism, and progressivism all clashed in a battle royal. But what really drives election results?
Crowd with hands up at World Youth Festival

When the C.I.A. Duped College Students

Inside a famous Cold War deception.
Photograph of Jack Kerouac looking into a shop window, by Allen Ginsberg.

Drive, Jack Kerouac Wrote

"On the Road" is a sad and somewhat self-consciously lyrical story about loneliness, insecurity, and failure. It’s also a story about guys who want to be with other guys.