How speaking — and misspeaking — provides a window into our mental activity: A review of Um...: Slips, Stumbles, and Verbal Blunders, and What They Mean by Michael Erard. The sign language of an isolated village sheds light on how the mind works: A review of Talking Hands: What Sign Language Reveals About the Mind by Margalit Fox. A review of The Tiger That Isn't: Seeing Through a World of Numbers by Michael Blastland and Andrew Dilnot. A review of The Book of General Ignorance: Everything You Think You Know Is Wrong by John Lloyd and John Mitchinson.

New take on Puff The Magic Dragon: Children's book offers a new, drug-free take on the dragon made popular in the song by Peter, Paul and Mary. English folk songs are a cultural treasure comparable to Shakespeare – so why are they so under-appreciated? A review of The Folk Handbook.  A review of Dirty Little Secrets of the Record Business: Why So Much Music You Hear Sucks by Hank Bordowitz. Music's New Mating Ritual: As genres are fused, cryptically named hybrids emerge; the story behind "gypsy punk"

The Shape of Thighs to Come: Those ripped six-pack abs? Over, guys. Ditto the bowling-ball breasts and jutting derrieres women have been acquiring. Fashion has declared them cliche, and if history is any guide, clothes make the mannequin. An article on Michael Vick and the Cult of the Spoiled Athlete. Designated Villain: Has George Steinbrenner taken the fun out of losing? A so-called sport that is elitist, sexist and racist, and fences off swathes of beautiful countryside for the privileged few. Can Richard Tomkins get over his golfing prejudices and join the club? 

From Dissent, No Refuge Here: Iraqis flee, but where? Hope and Despair in Divided Iraq: When describing Iraq, the word "peace" is seldom used. Truth be told, the Americans have restored order to many parts of the county. But Iraq remains fractured, and where new schools are built today, bombs could explode tomorrow. The claim that we are increasingly in control of the battlefields in Iraq is an assessment arrived at through a flawed, American-centered framework. Elegies From an Iraqi Notebook: An Iraqi reporter chronicles life, love and death in Diyala Province. A Knife Under the Collarbone: Most soldiers in Iraq battle faceless IEDs. But in Fallujah, the fighting was hand to hand.

From The New Yorker, in a city run by people who have spent their lives endlessly reenacting their election as class president, Karl Rove was un-dull: he was the fabulist, boundary violator, autodidact, mean boy, schemer. Karl Rove dreamed of creating a "permanent Republican majority." But the era of conservative values that emerged in the 1990s is coming to a close. Death Grip by How Rove directed federal assets for GOP gains: Bush adviser's effort to promote the president and his allies was unprecedented in its reach. John Judis on how political psychology explains Bush's ghastly success.

A review of The Prince of Darkness: 50 Years Reporting in Washington by Robert D. Novak (and more). What is confidentiality? In the Libby case, Norman Pearlstine had to decide: A review of Off the Record: The Press, the Government, and the War Over Anonymous Sources. A journalist meditates on the wonders of balance and explores how it works: A review of Balance: In Search of the Lost Sense by Scott McCredie. 

From The Washington Monthly, forget neocons and theocons. It’s the money-cons who really run Bush’s Republican Party: A review of The Big Con; and a review of See You in Court: How the Right Made America a Lawsuit Nation by Thomas Geoghegan. The 2008 election may be about Iraq and George W. Bush and the housing market. But the future of U.S. politics is going to be which party helps people have babies. And that's up for grabs. A review of The Politics of Heaven: America in Fearful Times by Earl Shorris. 

Two years after Hurricane Katrina, many of New Orleans’ poorest residents still have not returned home. Surveys show that most want to go back, but feel they cannot because of a lack of affordable housing or the risk of interrupting their children’s schooling. Is this what some in the city actually wanted? Suffering a Slow Recovery: Failed rebuilding after Katrina sets off a mental health crisis in the Gulf. Something needs to be done. Who will step up to the plate and try to ease the already exhausting burden of the families of sick children?

From Forward, an excerpt from Aleph-Bet: An Alphabet for the Perplexed by Joshua Cohen; and a review of Creator, Are You Still Listening? Israeli Poets on God and Prayer. A review of Jews and Power by Ruth R. Wisse. "Jew-It-Yourself": An article on the philosophy behind new sites. A review of A Plausible God: Secular Reflections on Liberal Jewish Theology by Mitchell Silver.

The introduction to Demanding Work: The Paradox of Job Quality in the Affluent Economy by Francis Green.  A review of Deporting Our Souls: Values, Morality, and Immigration Policy by Bill Ong Hing. A review of Immigrants: Your Country Needs Them by Philippe Legrain. A review of Foreigners: Three English lives by Caryl Phillips. 

Form Scientific American, Take Nutrition Claims with a Grain of Salt: Dietary studies sponsored by the food industry are often biased; can fat be fit? A well-publicized study and a spate of popular books raise questions about the ill effects of being overweight. Their conclusions are probably wrong; This is Your Brain on Food: Neuroimaging reveals a shared basis for chocoholia and drug addiction; and Eating Made Simple: How do you cope with a mountain of conflicting diet advice?  A review of Delizia! The Epic History of the Italians and their Food by John Dickie. A review of The Sushi Economy: Globalisation and the Making of a Modern Delicacy by Sasha Issenberg.

When the lightbulb above your head is truly incendiary: A review of What Is Your Dangerous Idea? Around the world, a handful of scientists are trying to create life from scratch and they're getting closer. A review of The Edge of Evolution: The Search for the Limits of Darwinism by Michael J. Behe. What Visions in the Dark of Light: Lene Vestergaard Hau made headlines by slowing light to below highway speed. Now the ringmaster of light can stop it, extinguish it and revive it—and thereby give quantum information a new look.