From Common-place, a special section on Thomas Paine, including an article on Paine, the new atheism movement, and the European skeptic tradition; and the unwanted rise of America's voluntary tradition: A review of Creating a Nation of Joiners: Democracy and Civil Society in Early National Massachusetts by Johann Neem. A review of Slavery's Constitution: From Revolution to Ratification by David Waldstreicher. A review of Deliver Us from Evil: The Slavery Question in the Old South by Lacy K. Ford. From NYRB, Lincoln off his pedestal: James M. McPherson reviews books on Abraham Lincoln. An article by Morris Dickstein about what 1930s depression art can teach us about our own hard times (and Joan Richardson reviews Dickstein’s Dancing in the Dark: A Cultural History of the Depression and more and more and more and more and more). Dashed hopes, less sex, even more Sisyphean labor for women: A review essay on what the histories of the Depression era tell us about middle-class families in crisis, both then and now. Driving Miss Lazy: From strippers to politicians, the drive-through may be finally coming into its own. An excerpt from Hollowing Out the Middle: The Rural Brain Drain and What It Means for America by Patrick J. Carr and Maria J. Kefalas. Here's an American Indian's journey in the land of Indian casinos. A review of Thriving on a Riff: Jazz and Blues Influences in African American Literature and Film. Honest, unfettered Americana: Just what is this music genre known as Americana?

Leon Wieseltier on how The New York Times Magazine is giving up on substance. Malcolm Gladwell has dissected many inspirational underdog victories, but his own triumph over the opposite sex could well be the most inspirational of all. From TNR, Martha Nussbaum reviews A Vindication of Love: Reclaiming Romance for the Twenty-First Century by Cristina Nehring (and a response). Herbert Gintis reviews Going to Extremes: How Like Minds Unite and Divide by Cass Sunstein. From Counterpunch, an article on Samantha Power and the weaponization of human rights. An Inconvenient Husband: Manhattan dad Colin Beavan asks his family to forgo toilet paper, electricity, and other necessities to live the greenest life possible. Meet the gimmick books: Memoirs structured around a stunt are thriving, but will their novelty eventually wear out? An excerpt from The Guinea Pig Diaries by A.J. Jacobs. The hipster thief: An interview with Tao Lin, author of Shoplifting from American Apparel. The 75 best people in the world: There are many more do-gooders, but these particular men and women make us happy. Ron Rosenbaum on how we use and abuse the word genius. Mortal Grace: Jim Carroll and Paul Ricoeur looked death in the face and wrote about it — Scott McLemee reads the fragments. A review of Tracy Kidder's Strength in What Remains: A Journey of Memory and Forgiveness (and more and more and more and more and more and more).

What happens when you turn forty-five: You realize you will only ever read so many books, there are only so many movies, so many trips, so many new friends — it has always been this way, but at forty-five you realize it. From FT, who is afraid of the reaper? A review of Annihilation: The Sense and Significance of Death by Christopher Belshaw (and more and more); The Philosophy of Death by Steven Luper; Our Stories: Essays on Life, Death and Free Will by John Martin Fischer; and Death by Todd May. A review of Staring at the Sun Overcoming the Terror of Death by Irvin D. Yalom. Facing the End: Mark S. Schantz on death and dying in American culture. A review of Choosing to Die: Elective Death and Multiculturalism by C. G. Prado. Live free, die free: The Final Exit Network, a right-to-die organization, battles government euthanasia accusations. A review of The Future of Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia by Neil M. Gorsuch. An article on the case for killing Granny: Rethinking end-of-life care. Ross Douthat on a more perfect death. The great unknown demands faith in something, be it biology or the Bible. A review of Death Becomes Them: Unearthing the Suicides of the Brilliant, the Famous, and the Notorious by Alix Strauss. The Death Guy: Gary Laderman has mixed feelings about becoming the "go to" professor when someone famous dies. An interview with Colin Dickey, author of Cranioklepty: Grave Robbing and the Search for Genius. Far too often, obituaries are drab and sanitised affairs, so Matthew Reisz asks scholars how they might word their own death notices.

Paul Schiff Berman (Princeton): Global Legal Pluralism. Philip Stephens on how the global consensus is starting to crack. Susan Rice on a new course in the world, a new approach at the U.N. Today, perhaps more than at any other time in human history, we may be approaching the realm of worldwide cooperative governance. Robert Kaplan getting real about world order: Establishing stability — and eventually democracy — in the world's most troubled countries requires letting go of starry-eyed notions about self-government in the near term. The world no longer digests military coups as well as it used to, but now there's a new way for autocrats to cook up a grab for power. Understanding dictatorships: From Iran to Cuba, the question of legitimacy is paramount. The groundbreaking microblogging service Twitter is great for sharing links and communicating with friends; it's not so good at spreading democracy and overthrowing dictatorships. When citizens of oppressive governments can't protest, how do they show their discontent? Frustrated with traditional methods of protest, campaigners are finding new ways to make their voices heard, including driving a tank to an arms fair in London. A review of Network Power: The Social Dynamics of Globalization by David Singh Grewal. A review of Maurice Mullard's The Politics of Globalisation and Polarisation. Scott McLemee reviews Cosmopolitanism and the Geographies of Freedom by David Harvey (and an excerpt).