Nonfiction

RECENT REVIEWS

Scatterings

Scatterings

2014 MARKS THE 50TH ANNIVERSARY of the Wilderness Act, the most important piece of environmental legislation in America’s history. Over the last year, the news media have run dozens of articles ab...

All the Broken People

All the Broken People

SOME ARE BROKEN by the system, some were born into broken homes — they are prisoners on death row, those who were incarcerated for life as juveniles, and poor women who were prosecuted for supposedl...

Say That Again? Making Sense of Noise

Say That Again? Making Sense of Noise

NOISE IS A BALL of untied pieces of string, cut at various lengths, which we can only perceive holistically. It is a complex interweaving of fabrics, fibrous at the edges, caressing and combining alon...

O Pioneer

O Pioneer

WHEN I WAS IN HIGH SCHOOL, my biology teacher took our class to the Mütter Museum, a medical museum in Philadelphia housing specimens that were odd, curious, and often grotesque. Visiting the museum ...

The Fight for America’s Classrooms

The Fight for America’s Classrooms

IN 2008, Drew Gilpin Faust, the president of Harvard University, released a remarkable work of American history. This Republic of Suffering assigned new historical significance to the more than 600,00...

Muttnik: Canine Rocketeers in the USSR

Muttnik: Canine Rocketeers in the USSR

THE MISSILE HURTLED to its mark, a wilderness somewhere between the Moon and Moscow. A minute earlier, it had engulfed the Baikonur Cosmodrome in a kerosene inferno. Now the awestruck apparatchiks, th...

Evolution Between the Sofa Cushions

Evolution Between the Sofa Cushions

IMAGINE an insecticide-soaked mattress crawling with bedbugs. You now have a metaphor for the future of our relationship to the living world. In the second half of the 20th century, synthetic pesticid...

When a River Is a World: Twigger on the Nile

When a River Is a World: Twigger on the Nile

WHILE ON A HUNTING EXPEDITION in the Balkans in 1859, British explorer Samuel Baker made a stop — along with his travel companion, a maharaja from India — at a slave market town in what is now Bul...

How the Humanities Will Save the World

How the Humanities Will Save the World

AT A DINNER GATHERING not long ago, some friends and colleagues were discussing ways to tackle intractable social problems: entrenched inequality, persistant discrimination, nihilistic extremists, cul...

The Gospel of Paul

The Gospel of Paul

IOWA CITY — set amid low hills of genetically engineered commercial crop an hour west of the Mississippi, bisected by the Iowa River, afflicted by floods, tornados, downpours of seemingly tropical ...

The Era of the Geographically Confused

The Era of the Geographically Confused

MY LIFE IS FUNDAMENTALLY ABSURD: this is a line that engraved itself on my mind after reading Jane Jeong Trenka’s 2005 memoir, The Language of Blood, some years ago. The book documents Trenka’s ex...