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Guest Russell Lucas

The Ongoing The Atlantic Thread

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Guest Russell Lucas

Christian, we might as well just have a separate discussion for all of the great things The Atlantic runs.

I'm nearly finished with the cover story on nannies and their role in salvaging the feminist movement, and I find that slate put together a conversation between the author, B. Ehrenreich and another writer.

Latest entry here: http://slate.msn.com/id/2095545/entry/2095678/

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Good find, Russell. I think I mentioned earlier that I didn't read the nanny stories last time around -- I read the short story, and the essays about "the next testament" and Johnny Cash -- but my wife did. I'll point her to the discussion.

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I have read nearly everything in the most recent Atlantic except for the nanny stories. I am sorry.

Dale

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Hmmmm. I just read the loooonnnngggg Howell Raines cover story in the new issue, and I can't believe that the guy completely -- completely! -- avoids the charges that he slanted the NY Times' coverage of the Iraq invasion!

Raines' leadership was routinely bashed in the conservative press for months before the Jayson Blair fiasco broke, but Raines has nothing to say about that. He does refer, in one brief sentence, to "neoconservative" editors who accused him of being politically correct, but if this was a reference to Raine's anti-war bias, it was vague.

So I'm left to believe that Raines doesn't think the criticism of the N.Y. Times coverage from conservatives is worth comment. Instead, he spends 10,000 words explaining how the problem was a calcified staff unwilling to push hard to break big stories.

I'm sure that was part of the problem, but it wasn't all of the problem. For Raines to talk about his lifelong love for the paper, but to avoid completely a major category of criticism against it -- and against his leadership, in particular -- is astonishing. That more news outlets haven't bothered to pick up on this oversight genuinely surprises me.

I bet Andrew Sullivan had something to say about it. I'll go check...

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Hmmmm. I just read the loooonnnngggg Howell Raines cover story in the new issue, and I can't believe that the guy completely -- completely! -- avoids the charges that he slanted the NY Times' coverage of the Iraq invasion!

Raines' leadership was routinely bashed in the conservative press for months before the Jayson Blair fiasco broke, but Raines has nothing to say about that. He does refer, in one brief sentence, to "neoconservative" editors who accused him of being politically correct, but if this was a reference to Raine's anti-war bias, it was vague.

So I'm left to believe that Raines doesn't think the criticism of the N.Y. Times coverage from conservatives is worth comment. Instead, he spends 10,000 words explaining how the problem was a calcified staff unwilling to push hard to break big stories.

I'm sure that was part of the problem, but it wasn't all of the problem. For Raines to talk about his lifelong love for the paper, but to avoid completely a major category of criticism against it -- and against his leadership, in particular -- is astonishing. That more news outlets haven't bothered to pick up on this oversight genuinely surprises me.

I bet Andrew Sullivan had something to say about it. I'll go check...

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Hmmmm. I just read the loooonnnngggg Howell Raines cover story in the new issue, and I can't believe that the guy completely -- completely! -- avoids the charges that he slanted the NY Times' coverage of the Iraq invasion!

Raines' leadership was routinely bashed in the conservative press for months before the Jayson Blair fiasco broke, but Raines has nothing to say about that. He does refer, in one brief sentence, to "neoconservative" editors who accused him of being politically correct, but if this was a reference to Raine's anti-war bias, it was vague.

So I'm left to believe that Raines doesn't think the criticism of the N.Y. Times coverage from conservatives is worth comment. Instead, he spends 10,000 words explaining how the problem was a calcified staff unwilling to push hard to break big stories.

I'm sure that was part of the problem, but it wasn't all of the problem. For Raines to talk about his lifelong love for the paper, but to avoid completely a major category of criticism against it -- and against his leadership, in particular -- is astonishing. That more news outlets haven't bothered to pick up on this oversight genuinely surprises me.

I bet Andrew Sullivan had something to say about it. I'll go check...

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Guest Russell Lucas

Some interesting things in the current (June) issue. Certainly, the Tony Blair article is a worthwhile read, though it may not go too far beyond where the mainstream American media has been going in regard to its treatment of Blair.

The article near the end which spins off the review of the global screenwriting book might merit its own thread here. I'll have to check whether it is available on the mag's site. I thought the author overextended his thesis. I'm sure there are profound effects on the content of Hollywood films as a result of the importance of the global market, but I don't believe I'm persuaded that those changes (he notes the paucity of dialogue-heavy films and intricate political narratives) aren't symptomatic of our tastes as much as the tastes of those who have to read subtitles to watch the latest Stephen Sommers.

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The article near the end which spins off the review of the global screenwriting book might merit its own thread here.  I'll have to check whether it is available on the mag's site.  I thought the author overextended his thesis.  I'm sure there are profound effects on the content of Hollywood films as a result of the importance of the global market, but I don't believe I'm persuaded that those changes (he notes the paucity of dialogue-heavy films and intricate political narratives) aren't symptomatic of our tastes as much as the tastes of those who have to read subtitles to watch the latest Stephen Sommers.

I was thinking the same thing about a separate thread, or adding these comments to Jeffrey's thread on what constitutes good film writing. The supposed Atlantic "book review" is just a launching pad for the author's broader discussion of what goes into -- or used to go into -- good American film writing. I haven't fully digested what he wrote, but what struck me about the piece were the implications of his thesis for the Ted Baehrs and Michael Medveds of the world, who tend to focus on the correlation between box-office grosses and moral cotent of particular films. If memory serves, Ted and Michael concentrate on domestic grosses, but those now comprise less than half of most films' revenues, according to the piece.

Maybe both critics do indeed look at worldwide grosses -- I don't read them with any regularity, although I'm a fan of Medved's -- but if my memory is correct, these guys have to rethink the questions they have about why Hollywood produces certain films that either do or don't mesh well with American tastes and moral tendencies.

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Interesting. John Wilson at Books and Culture, in part 2 of his column on the year's best books so far, mentions the current issue of the Atlantic:

"Speaking of funny writing (a perennially underrated art), the September issue of The Atlantic Monthly, which may be the single most impressive issue of a magazine I have seen in a lifetime of reading, includes among its embarrassment of riches an excerpt from Christopher Buckley's novel, Florence of Arabia, due next month from Random House. It is delicious."

--I've had the issue sitting in my room for a couple of weeks. I paged through it when it first arrived, but I didn't find it too inspiring. Then on Saturday, I started the cover story, "Inside Al Qaida's Hard Drive" (I think that's what it's called), and I was instantly pulled in.

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Guest Russell Lucas

Yeah, I haven't read much apart from a few of the short pieces. I'll report back, though.

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Mine came while I had company, so I don't think I've read a word of the it yet. Shame on me.

Dale

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Somebody remind me

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You'll never guess the subject of the cover story in the latest Atlantic, which arrived in Saturday's mail. Unbelievable.

Edited by Christian

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Yes, but at least next month the election will be all-but-over by the time they mail out the issue, so the anti-Republicanism should drop to 2003 levels. I hope.

Regardless, I don't hate the anti-conservatism articles; they're usually intellegently defended and well-reasoned, if necessarily partisan.

Dale

Edited by M. Dale Prins

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Yes, but at least next month the election will be all-but-over by the time they mail out the issue, so the anti-Republicanism should drop to 2003 levels. I hope.

Regardless, I don't hate the anti-conservatism articles; they're usually intellegently defended and well-reasoned, if necessarily partisan.

Dale

Agreed. The articles are good, but I'm getting tired of the relentless emphasis. However, I've been impressed with the other articles I've read by the author of this latest cover story (William Langswieche--I can't spell his last name), so I'll probably take a crack at it.

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Doggone Christian. You deserve to travel much farther in grad school. My Atlantics are piling up unread 'til 11.03 or something, not that the present dustup is the only distraction. I gotta tip the hat and nod the head here.

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The Atlantic's editor, Cullen Murphy, bites the dust (voluntarily) after the magazine decides to relocate its operations from Boston to Washington, D.C.:

"With Cullen

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It would be nice if their future ambitions were along the lines of hearkening back to the halcyon days of Micheal Kelly's leadership, eh?

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I've been disappointed with the recent issues. The new Tocqueville is rediculous. Horribly agenda'd writing. A man looking for what he wants to find to make his points.

And the recent cover story (A look back at the economic crisis of 2009) is just pure speculative fiction. Which is ironic, since they've decided to cut out the fiction from the magazine. (A bad decision)

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I've been disappointed with the recent issues.  The new Tocqueville is rediculous.  Horribly agenda'd writing.  A man looking for what he wants to find to make his points.

And the recent cover story (A look back at the economic crisis of 2009) is just pure speculative fiction. Which is ironic, since they've decided to cut out the fiction from the magazine. (A bad decision)

Amen to all this, Dan. And thanks for bringing it up; I was just thinking yesterday that I should post -- again -- about my increasing disenchantment with the magazine, after attempting to read Fallows' latest cover story (I stopped after four pages; I got the point, such as it is, although the 2-page follow-up story on past economic collapses was interesting). Just last night I was asking Sarah why we recently renewed through July/August 2007, and I remembered that we did so to beat the price increase, which took effect a few months ago.

I considered cancelling, but in talking with Sarah, I mentioned how I still enjoy the Books & Arts section, and the early essays, and the letters ... pretty much everything BUT the features. So I guess the subscription is worth hanging on to.

But Sarah and I were both very disappointed that the magazine ditched the short story in each issue. We rarely enjoyed the stories -- they had a certain sameness in tone over the couple of years we've subscribed, with the exception of the wonderful two-part excerpt of Chris Buckley's Florence of Arabia, which was an all-time Atlantic highlight -- but we always found time to read them, and we always held out hope that they'd elevate the content of each issue. So much for that.

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Mark Bowden. His essays in The Atlantic are one of the magazine's few bright spots.

Over at Slate, he writes about the year's biggest cultural event:

Mark Bowden, national correspondent, the Atlantic

The cultural event that most disappointed me in 2005 was the Nobel address given by Harold Pinter. On the occasion of receiving the world's most prestigious literary prize, the brilliant playwright chose to deliver a passionate anti-American speech. This was not just a criticism of the Bush administration, or of the invasion of Iraq (popular and legitimate targets), but a sweeping indictment of the United States of America as the taproot of evil in the world over the last 60 years. Lord knows, America deserves criticism (we are pretty good at criticizing ourselves), but when you consider the millions slaughtered by Pol Pot in Cambodia, the widespread and ruthless repression of the late Soviet Union, the fact that one-fourth of the world's population still lives under the thumb of a repressive Chinese Communist regime, that Islamofascists are plotting acts of mass murder (including an attack that killed 52 and injured more than 700 in London last year) as the vanguard of an effort to sweep away from a large portion of the planet the cherished freedoms and tolerance of Western society, Pinter's reading of history old and new was juvenile, bizarre, and willfully narrow. At one point he compared the (appalling) persistence of the death penalty in America to the murderous practices of Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden. Pinter is, of course, entitled to his opinion, and thanks in no small measure to the sacrifices of Americans, he is free to express it. But we are free to be disappointed in him. I was.

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