A Signature On The Land

The naturalist ALDO LEOPOLD not only gave the wilderness idea its most persuasive articulation; he offered a way of thinking that turned the entire history of land use on its head

The trouble began at midmorning on Wednesday, April 21, 1948, when a neighboring farm’s trash fire got out of control. Flames skittered across the grassy farmyard and began chewing swiftly through a marsh toward the “plantation” of white and red pines that the professor and his family had been nurturing diligently on their 120-acre patch of worn-out Wisconsin farmland since 1935.Read more »

Lost In Space What Went Wrong With Nasa?

When a rocket lifts off, it lights up the launch area with a brilliant burst of flame and then trails a fiery streak across the sky as it soars toward orbit. But without careful guidance all the pyrotechnics will have been for naught. That is, in short, what happened to the National Aeronautics and Space Agency. Read more »

My Search For Lyndon Johnson

Writing a biography is an act of selfdiscovery. As James Atlas, a New York Times Magazine editor, said in a recent article, “Choosing a Life,” “the biographer’s subject enact[s] the main themes of the biographer’s own life.” Atlas quoted Leon Edel, who spent twenty years writing a five-volume life of Henry James: “Biographers are invariably drawn to the writing of a biography out of some deep personal motive.” Read more »

A Visit With LBJ

An hour and a half of growing astonishment in the presence of the President of the United States, as recorded by a witness who now publishes a record of it for the first time

On an otherwise unremarkable evening early in September 1965, when, for the fourteenth time, I was preparing lectures for the start of the fall term at Columbia University, the phone rang, and I heard an unfamiliar woman’s voice saying, “This is the White House.” I knew any number of historians for whom a call from the White House was routine. One of them, Arthur M.Read more »

The Wimp Factor

A year ago we were in the midst of a presidential campaign most memorable for charges by both sides that the opponent was not hard enough, tough enough, masculine enough. That he was, in fact, a sissy. Both sides also admitted this sort of rhetoric was deplorable. But it’s been going on since the beginning of the Republic.

Just before George Bush announced his running mate in 1988, a one-liner going the rounds was that he should choose Jeane Kirkpatrick to add some machismo to the ticket. Until midway through the campaign the embarrassing “fact” about Bush, as revealed in a spate of jokes, cartoons, and anecdotes gleefully reported or generated by the press, was the candidate’s “wimpiness.” A wimp, of course, is effete, ineffectual, somehow unmanly. Real men, the diametrical opposite of wimps, are war heroes and government leaders, especially combat pilots and spy masters. But wait!Read more »

The Day Kennedy Was Shot

A routine chore for JFK’s official photographer became the most important assignment of his career. Much of his moving pictorial record appears here for the first time.

It was a typical motorcade. Cecil W. Stoughton had been in many like it. A forty-three-year-old veteran of the Signal Corps, Captain Stoughton had so impressed John F. Kennedy with pictures of his inauguration that the new President, through his military aide, appointed him his official photographer. In the course of thirty-four months, Stoughton had made more than eight thousand photographs of Kennedy and his family.Read more »

History Still Matters

A distinguished journalist and former presidential adviser says that to find the meaning of any news story, we must dig for its roots in the past

I am fascinated by what I see in the rearview mirror of experience. The future, being a mystery, excites, but the past instructs. When I was a student at the University of Texas, one of the favorite campus legends concerned a professor of anthropology, whose great power was in bringing the past alive through his brilliant lectures on the ascent of the human species.Read more »

Four More Years

Here is how political cartoonists have sized up the candidates over a tumultuous half-century.

AMERICANS HAVE BEEN turning out political cartoons since the dawn of the Republic, but in the nineteenth century the drawings tended to be verbose and cluttered, their characters trailing long ribbons of speech balloons as they stumbled over obscure symbols. It took the national turmoil that surrounded the emergence of Franklin Roosevelt to bring the art to its incisive, confident, acid maturity. On the eve of the election, we offer a portfolio of cartoons both admiring and execrating from the last thirteen presidential contests.Read more »

The Week The World Watched Selma

A century after passage of the Fifteenth Amendment, many Southern blacks still were denied the vote. In 1965 Martin Luther King, Jr, set out to change that—by marching through the heart of Alabama.

From the frozen steps of Brown Chapel they could see the car moving toward them down Sylvan Street, past the clapboard homes and bleak, red-brick apartments that dotted the Negro section of Selma, Alabama. In a moment it pulled up at the chapel, a brick building with twin steeples, and the people on the steps sent word inside, where a mass meeting of local blacks was under way. He was here. It was Dr. King. They had waited for him much of the afternoon, singing freedom songs and clapping and swaying to the music.Read more »

Lady Bird Johnson Remembers

The former First Lady looks back on the years with Lyndon and discusses her life today

When Lady Bird Johnson stops by the post office in Stonewall, Texas, to mail a letter, or waves to the tourists visiting the Johnson Ranch, or rides in the elevator of the LBJ Library in Austin, she is greeted with delighted smiles—sometimes of immediate recognition, sometimes of surprise—but always of pleasure. Her unassuming and invariably friendly presence is obviously one of the treasures of central Texas. Read more »