Where Alaa Al Aswany is writing from: He’s a secularist; he’s a saloniste; he’s a dentist — and he’s one of the Arab world’s best-selling novelists. When elite get tough: Anti-snobbery is as American as apple pie. Science has seen the future — and it is invisible. A review of Pacifism and English Literature: Minstrels of Peace by R. S. White. Stephanie Zacharek reviews Nina Revoyr’s The Age of Dreaming. How many horn solos does it take to kill a perfect pop song? Joshua Allen applies science and taste to determine the exact best length—down to the second—for the platonic song. A review of A Billion Lives: An Eyewitness Report From The Frontlines of Humanity by Jan Egeland. The press is convinced that badgering candidates about faux scandals is necessary because they "will be raised" in the general election, but it ignores its own crucial role in shaping the terms of debate. An interview with Lester Brown, author of Plan B 3.0. An interview with Amanda Marcotte, author of It's a Jungle Out There: The Feminist Survival Guide to Politically Inhospitable Environments. Even deeper than emergence and its challenge to reductionism in a new scientific worldview is what Stuart A. Kauffman calls breaking the Galilean spell. The enduring mystery of suicide: Ever younger teens are falling victim to severe depression — for professionals, the problem remains as baffling as ever.

From The Washington Monthly, love of family inspired William Jefferson to do great things — it also explains that $90,000 in his freezer. Don't TNT Me, Bro: William Saletan on the moral logic of suicide bombing. Sunset in America: Sean Wilentz on the end of the age of Reagan. A blood libel on our civilization: John Derbyshire on Ben Stein's "Expelled". A review of Body Shopping: The Economy Fuelled by Flesh and Blood by Donna Dickenson. A review of The Man Who Pushed America to War: The Extraordinary Life, Adventures and Obsessions of Ahmad Chalabi by Aram Roston. The Memory Addict: Augusten Burroughs doesn’t just write about his past — he holds seances. Douglas Mullins reviews Nathaniel Mackey’s Bass Cathedral. What lessons can be learned from past attempts to oust seemingly immovable oppressors, and do the lessons apply in the case of Robert Mugabe? The man who invented Mars: Long before the space race and space shuttle, a brilliant, wealthy, charming Boston Brahmin named Percival Lowell popularized the idea that we are not alone in the universe. A review of Do Travel Writers Go To Hell? A Swashbuckling Tale of High Adventures, Questionable Ethics and Professional Hedonism by Thomas Kohnstamm. A review of Misha Glenny's McMafia: A Journey Through the Global Criminal Underworld.

From TAP, the Militarist: John McCain may protest that he hates war, but no American leader has promoted it more avidly. Drawing lessons: What arts education can do, and can’t; and forget the art-school aesthetic: Photo-sharing Web sites have their own ideas about beauty. People think Colson Whitehead has it easy, but it’s surprisingly difficult being The Guy Who Got Where He Is Only Because He’s Black. A review of The Bin Ladens: An Arabian Family in the American Century  by Steve Coll (and more and more and more and more). Scourge of the corporate pirates: The artist's enemy is obscurity, not piracy, says novelist and Web activist Cory Doctorow. Triple-A Failure: How Moody’s and other credit-rating agencies licensed the abuses that created the housing bubble — and bust. An article on Clinton, Obama and the Narcissist's Tale. In the end, every president talks to the bad guys: A primer on confronting evil dictators. Only the men survive: Aggressive and blunt, Morgan Stanley’s Zoe Cruz didn’t act like a typical female pioneer in a masculine world — and that rubbed a lot of men, who later got her fired, the wrong way. Doris Lessing is still raging — at communists, war, Mrs Thatcher... but most of her venom is reserved for the subject of what she says will be her final book: Her mother (and here is the Bookforum interview).

From The New Yorker, a review of Benny Morris' 1948: A History of the First Arab-Israeli War; and an article on rescuing the victims of the global sex trade. Dahlia Lithwick on getting away with torture: The failures of the legal system for both the torturers and the tortured. You’re an author? Me too! Fewer people are reading books, but these days, more are publishing their own. A look at how savage pirates reign on the world's high seas (and more). The Coming Euroinvasion: First they came for the iPods; then the Europeans snatched up condos in Manhattan — now they’re coming for the companies. A review of Dangerous World: Natural Disasters, Manmade Catastrophes, and the Future of Human Survival by Marq de Villiers. A review of Clinton in Exile: A President Out of the White House by Carol Felsenthal. Craig Seligman reviews Brian Hall's Fall of Frost. Give me the lesson without the spin: A high school student finds conservative bias in his American government textbook (and a response by James Q. Wilson). Harvey Mansfield on how without sexual boundaries, students feel pressure to appear more promiscuous than they are. A review of Writings for a Democratic Society: The Tom Hayden Reader.  Hillary vs. Barack is like Yale's Lady Macbeth versus Harvard's Billy Budd. Muslim rebel sisters Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Irshad Manji are at odds with Islam and each other.

From NYRB, a review of Putin: The Results: An Independent Expert Report by Boris Nemtsov and Vladimir Milov; an interview with George Soros; and a review of books on Michel de Certeau. The simplification dodge: Robert Kuttner reviews 100 Million Unnecessary Returns: A Simple, Fair, and Competitive Tax Plan for the United States by Michael J. Graetz and Free Lunch: How the Wealthiest Americans Enrich Themselves at Government Expense (And Stick You With the Bill) by David Cay Johnston. A review of Sneaker Wars: The Enemy Brothers Who Founded Adidas and Puma and the Family Feud That Forever Changed the Business of Sport by Barbara Smit. The dictators are back, and we don’t care: With the fall of communism and the rise of globalisation in the 1990s, the West believed democracy had won — how wrong it was (and a profile of Robert Kagan, a neocon by any other name). Leon Wieseltier reviews Martin Amis' The Second Plane (and more from Bookforum). A simple and deceptively tricky question: What does a president do? Eric Banks reviews Tintin and the Secret of Literature by Tom McCarthy. Men and their mothers, what's it all about?: Why is the mother-son relationship so complicated? You are the river: An interview with Ken Wilber, on religion, New Age fads and the ultimate reality that traditional science can't touch.

From The Walrus, an article on Latrine Graffiti, Kuwait and Afghanistan. From PopMatters, a review of You Call This the Future? The Greatest Inventions Sci-Fi Imagined and Science Promised by Nick Sagan, Mark Frary, and Andy Walker; and an article on the persistent politics of the Olympic Games. From Newsweek, Barack Obama is a Niebuhr-reading ESPN watcher — the origins of his troubles with the "other" tag. The Natural no more: The greatest mystery in a mystifying campaign — what happened to Bill? Entertainment has come to mean junk, but its definition also should include everything pleasurable that arises from an encounter with literature. From Argentina to Canada to France, Alberto Manguel crossed a planet of stories, a world champion of books (and a review of The Library at Night and a review of The City of Words; and more from Bookforum). From Reason, an interview with entrepreneur Peter Thiel on liberty and scientific progress (and a look at Floating Burning Man, "jurisdictional arbitrage," and other adventures in anarchism). From CQ Politics, here are make or break moments on the presidential campaign trail. A review of Stuffed and Starved: Markets, Power and the Hidden Battle for the World Food System by Raj Patel. Rearming the world: Why nations are suddenly locked in an arms race unseen since the early days of the Cold War.

From the latest issue of Ethics & International Affairs, Philip Coyle and Victoria Samson on Missile Defense Malfunction: Why the Proposed U.S. Missile Defenses in Europe Will Not Work; Mathias Risse (Harvard): On the Morality of Immigration; and a review of Inventing Human Rights: A History by Lynn Hunt. Truth, can you handle it? Better yet, do you know it when you see it? Since World War II, Republicans and Democrats have presided over startlingly different economies. Confessions of a Sweatshop Inspector: Presidential candidates are calling for tougher labor standards in trade agreements — but can such standards be enforced? Here's what T. A. Frank learned from his old job. Erik Davis reviews Rudolph Wurlitzer's The Drop Edge of Yonder. Ilan Stavans makes the case of Gabriel Garcia Marquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude as one of the 50 greatest books. 50 best cult books: Critics present a selection of history's most notable cult writing; some is classic; some is catastrophic — all of it had the power to inspire. The future of dirt: Better soil could accomplish some surprising things, but improving it is no small task. What happened to South Africa’s transformation? A review of Thabo Mbeki and the Battle for the Soul of the ANC by William Gumede. Young gay rites: Why would gay men in their 20s rush to the altar?

From Scientific American, a cover story on Science 2.0: Is open access science the future? An excerpt from A Republic of Mind and Spirit: A Cultural History of American Metaphysical Religion by Catherine L. Albanese. Does language shape what we perceive or are our perceptions pure sensory impressions?  An excerpt from Shut Up, I'm Talking: And Other Diplomacy Lessons I Learned in the Israeli Government by Gregory Levey. How Republicans quietly hijacked the Justice Department to swing elections: An excerpt from Loser Take All. An excerpt from Pierre Manent's Democracy without Nations? The Fate of Self-Government in Europe (and part 2). Yona Zeldis McDonough reviews Louise Erdrich’s The Plague of Doves. The hazards of telling the truth: A review of History Lesson: A Race Odyssey by Mary Lefkowitz. Looking at the US often encourages proto-paranoia suppositions and scenarios — and no wonder, reading some of recent books on the American way. The coming hunger: Was Malthus right? Are we getting too numerous to feed ourselves? Technology may have changed the way we obtain music, but as Nick Hornby's High Fidelity reminds us, it can never alter our love affair with the medium. What drove so many Libyans to volunteer as suicide bombers for the war in Iraq? A visit to their hometown—the dead-end city of Darnah.

From CRB, Harvey Mansfield reviews Leo Strauss and the Politics of Exile: the Making of a Political Philosopher by Eugene R. Sheppard and Leo Strauss: An Intellectual Biography by Daniel Tanguay; Ramesh Ponnuru reviews The Big Con by Jonathan Chait; a review of The Two Faces of Liberalism: How the Hoover-Roosevelt Debate Shapes the 21st Century; a review of Marriage and Caste in America: Separate and Unequal Families in a Post-Marital Age by Kay S. Hymowitz and The Future of Marriage by David Blankenhorn; and a review of The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Constitution by Kevin R.C. Gutzman. Patrick McGrath reviews Aleksandar Hemon's The Lazarus Project. From Wired, a series of articles on memory and brainpower. Is this green enough? How much are we willing to spend to save the planet? An interview with Daniel Gilbert, Professor Happiness. A review of Posthumous Keats by Stanley Plumly. A review of books on visual politics, and a review of books on Wall Street. New research from a Harvard scholar suggests that Africa's economic woes may have their roots in the slave trade. A review of Folk Psychological Narratives: The Sociocultural Basis of Understanding Reasons by Daniel D. Hutto. For two-thirds of its history, Homo sapiens lived exclusively in Africa — only now are the details of that period becoming clear.

From TED, Yochai Benkler on open-source economics. Rules vs. principles: James Surowiecki on regulatory overhauls. Shankar Vedantam on what Obama might learn from Emily Dickinson. George W. Bush as he now appears in a history book: An excerpt from The American President by Kathryn Moore. Is religion a threat to rationality and science? Daniel Dennett and Robert Winston debate. What are the psychological "rules" of bartering, and why things cost $19.95? Ghosts from a small island: At its very heart, Manhattan never really changes. From The Nation, a review of books on the Second Amendment; and Leaving Cheyenne Mountain: Post-cold war America is looking a lot like the former Soviet Union. Lorraine Adams reviews James Meeks' We Are Now Beginning Our Descent. The first chapter from Cop in the Hood: My Year Policing Baltimore's Eastern District by Peter Moskos (and a blog). From Discover, the thrill-seeker's travel guide: 5 difficult journeys to excite even the bravest science buff; and here are 20 things you didn’t know about recycling. A look at how social networking could kill Web search as we know it. David Gordon reviews Morality and Political Violence by CAJ Coady. The dirty truth about plastic: BPA and other plastics may be as harmful as they are plentiful. The GOP on the verge of imploding: A look at how radicalism has forced the GOP to retreat.