From Canada, the agony of the executioner: How a Parkdale man became the country's first official hangman – and was destroyed by it; and how come this great product is so hard to brand? Spacing magazine's Leah Sandals weighs in on slogans for selling Toronto.

Though Hackney is officially the worst place to live in Britain, the people of Albion Drive are riding a property rollercoaster. A review of Littlejohn's Britain by Richard Littlejohnm and more on Loudmouth with an instinct for the jugular, and home truths.

From LRB, Andrew O’Hagan on the garbage of England and the things we throw away. As the Labour party prepares to change leaders, David Kynaston traces its evolution from post-second world war austerity and alleged disconnection with ’ordinary people’ to the populism of Tony Blair. A review of Austerity Britain 1945-51 (and more). In his new book, A History of Modern Britain, Andrew Marr turns his own idiosyncratic eye on the quests and quirks that have shaped the nation (and more and more).

Paul Johnson on London as the epicenter of capitalism. From CJR, Superiority Complex: An article on why the Brits think they’re better. For Better or Worse: Eric Rauchway on the special relationship, reconsidered. A review of By Hook or by Crook: a journey in search of English, by David Crystal.

¡Viva el español! The Spanish language may soon have more native speakers than English. A review of Mixed Signals: U.S. Human Rights Policy and Latin America. How concrete channelled the American dream: A review of Panama Fever by Matthew Parker. Tourism or cocaine? Caribbean economies depend on tourism. So why aren't the nations to the north encouraging an honest way to make a buck?

From The Nation, if we are ever to solve the Israel/Palestinian conflict, learning each other's historical narratives is surely the place to begin. Israel is facing a challenge it never expected when it captured East Jerusalem and reunited the city in the 1967 war: each year, Jerusalem’s population is becoming more Arab and less Jewish. An excerpt from Dark Hope Working for Peace in Israel and Palestine by David Shulman. Whose Israel question?

A review of My Israel Question by Antony Loewenstein. The writing cure Living in a war zone, Israeli writer David Grossman turned away from recording the conflict in his work. But after his son was killed in the army, he found it was the only way to come to terms with his grief.

The introduction to On Suicide Bombing by Talal Asad.  More on Buda's Wagon: A Brief History of the Car Bomb. Are we likely to get terrorism betting markets anytime soon? If we really wanted to know the score on terrorism, we’d listen to the experts. And regicide's risk: Killing a leader doesn't always work

The Los Angeles legacy of Thomas Mann, Bertolt Brecht and many other German exiles: A review of Weimar on the Pacific : German Exile Culture in Los Angeles and the Crisis of Modernism (and more). Most educated people know three things about Cecil Day-Lewis: that he was Poet Laureate; that he joined the Communist Party; and that he was the father of the actor Daniel Day-Lewis: A review of C Day-Lewis: a Life by Peter Stanford.; and when she wed the future poet laureate C Day-Lewis her parents disowned her, wary of his reputation as a womaniser. The actress has rarely talked about her marriage, but she tells Rachel Cooke about their love, their children Daniel and Tamasin, and the hurt she still suffers.

Presence, Arthur Miller's final collection of stories, is an important reminder that artists can do accomplished work right up to the end of life. More and more on Cultural Amnesia by Clive James. Carlin Romano reviews The Case for Literature by Gao Xingjian.

This month, Orion Books will publish a set of pared-down classics. Seven authors on what books they would put on the chopping block. Simon & Schuster is proposing a change in the way it defines when a book is out of print. Literary festivals used to be humble gatherings of authors and fans. But now they are undergoing a boom, with new events opening and everyone from politicians to pop stars getting in on the act. A word to the wise on co-ordinating literary festivals: avoid double bookings. If what you're reading happens to give you that dizzy fizz, you know you're in for the ride of your life.

Not everybody's a critic: Sure, anyone with a blog can express an opinion about a book, but true criticism is more than just an opinion. Iraq War blogger Colby Buzzell wins online publisher's inaugural book award. Personal computers and the Internet's ability to fling information far and wide have further exacerbated the idea of Everyday Shakespeares. Before the terror: As a precocious teenager, Stalin had a surprising talent for romantic poetry, a passion that endured throughout his life. Simon Sebag Montefiore asks how the youthful scribbler became a ruthless tyrant. Many leading American and British novelists felt compelled to confront the implications of September 11. Have they succeeded in capturing the new world order, asks Pankaj Mishra.

As professional politics becomes ever more remote, the most fraught controversies of our time are migrating into art. Point of Order: Robert’s Rules, brainchild of an obscure general, has survived 130 years, 10 editions — even use by 1960s radicals. And cartoons deemed unfit for print: Did these rejected editorial cartoons go over the line? Draw your own conclusion

From Environment, "Dry": Three stories of adaptation to Life Without Water. From New Internationalist, a special issue of The State of the World's Ocean. From The Hindu, an empty sea, a silver beach: Following the tsunami, the artisanal fishermen of Alappuzha face many threats that affect their traditional livelihood. Ocean Blues: America’s once-bountiful seafood supply has been decimated. Can the president say kapu?

As latest research confirms the effect of climate change on the coral reefs of the Great Barrier Reef, Australia is gearing to deal with the threat to its greatest natural resource. Stopping the loggers is the fastest and cheapest solution to climate change. So why are global leaders turning a blind eye to this crisis? From Technology Review, planning for a climate-changed world: As the global picture grows grimmer, states and cities are searching for the fine-scale predictions they need to prepare for emergencies—and to keep the faucets running (and part 2).  What would Rachel Carson have thought of the Bush era? Elizabeth Kolbert wants to know.

From Monthly Review, an article on the imperative of an International Guaranteed Income. Thomas E. Woods on Plunder or Enterprise: The World's Choice. From Financial Times, an article on Robert Merton and the appliance of financial science. An interview is the first publicity event for Alan Greenspan's forthcoming book, The Age of Turbulence.

From TAP, Beyond "Card Check": What a comprehensive labor agenda would look like — and why the Democratic presidential candidates should be put on record with their stances on it. Time Off for the Overworked American: A growing movement seeks to ensure that all workers have paid time off — and feel free to take advantage of it. Why is income inequality in America so pronounced? Consider education. A review of Consumed: How Markets Corrupt Children, Infantilize Adults, and Swallow Citizens Whole by Benjamin R. Barber. The Next Social Contract: The candidate best able to articulate a new set of mutual obligations between America's citizens, employers, and government may be the one to lead us into the 21st century.

From The Economist, greed is still good: But who is Gordon Gekko now? A review of Age of Betrayal: The Triumph of Money in America, 1865-1900. A review of The Money Lawyers: The No-Holds-Barred World of Today's Richest and Most Powerful Lawyers.

From TNR, Jonathan Cohn on why Clinton and Obama should get specific on health care (and a response by Mark Schmitt), and a review of Sick: The Untold Story of America's Health Care Crisis — And the People Who Pay the Price. And a review of Better: A Surgeon's Notes on Performance by Atul Gawande

From Slate, The Cult of the Pink Tower: Montessori turns 100—what the hell is it? Leaving a big mess on campus: As school ends, students abandon clothes, fridges, ramen and more. Activists collect them for charities. Why do Mount Holyoke, Barnard, Bryn Mawr, Smith, and Wellesley — and dozens of other women's colleges — stubbornly carry on as single-sex institutions? Some colleges want to curb flow of data to magazine: Annual rankings by U.S. News called misleading; "peer reputation" survey particularly criticized.

Iraq's Universities Near Collapse: Hundreds of professors and students have been killed or kidnapped, hundreds more have fled, and those who remain face daily threats of violence. Africa’s storied colleges, jammed and crumbling: Far from being a repository of the continent’s hopes for the future, Africa’s decrepit universities have become hotbeds of discontent. British, French and German universities will be overtaken by those in China and India within a decade unless they improve quality and access. Purple patches on nation and state and democracy and populism by John Lukacs.

From The New York Times, Tick-Tock and Other Pulses of the West: What do inventions like clocks say about Western culture? Edward Rothstein investigates. A review of Archaeologies of the Future: The Desire Called Utopia and Other Science Fiction by Fredric Jameson. Even as NASA prepares again to go to the moon, Dark Side of the Moon seeks to dispel some of the received myths from that earlier escapade.

A review of Einstein: His Life and Universe by Walter Isaacson and Einstein: A Biography by Jürgen Neffe. A review of The Canon: A Whirligig Tour of the Beautiful Basics of Science by Natalie Angier. A review of The Poincaré Conjecture: in Search of the Shape of the Universe by Donal O'Shea. A review of Unknown Quantity: a Real and Imagined History of Algebra by John Derbyshire. A review of Flat Earth: The History of an Infamous Idea by Christine Garwood. The Darwin Correspondence Project put 5,000 letters to and from the father of evolution online last week. Now the public can track the evolution of the eponymous evolutionist.

A body of impressive empirical evidence reveals that the roots of prosocial behavior, including moral sentiments like empathy, precede the evolution of culture. An unspoken assumption is that accountability is always a good thing. A growing body of psychological experiments, however, shows that this assumption is wrong. From First Science, an article on the science of sleepwalking. And what is it that makes Superman Super? And is there any basis in real science for the man of steel?