• print • Summer 2019

    Full Metal Racket

    The aim of venture capital is to bet on the long tail: Invest in many different start-ups, knowing most will fail but hoping at least one big success will more than offset the losses. For this reason, the business has always been focused on technology companies, which offer the greatest potential for fast growth and outsize returns. Most venture capital firms today are located in Silicon Valley, and nearly all the major tech companies, including Amazon, Apple, and Google, relied on venture capital funding to get off the ground. The playbook is simple: Raise capital from institutional investors

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  • print • Summer 2019

    Our Woman in Tehran

    It’s six o’clock in Tehran and Kate Millett needs a drink. It’s not easy, being a maquisard of the feministas. It is March 1979, only weeks after the departure of the Shah of Shahs. Iran is in the throes of revolution. Streets are being renamed, monuments defaced, pissed upon, torn down; there is graffiti everywhere. Call it the chrysalis phase after five decades of Pahlavi absolutism: No one knows what’s being born, but everyone wants it to be beautiful. (Beauty, alas, is in the eye of the beholder.) Millett, forty-four years old, tousle-haired and bespectacled in the frog glasses of her era,

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  • print • Summer 2019

    Between the Reenactments

    Not many writers mix up geniality and astuteness as enjoyably as Tony Horwitz does. He’s got a rare knack for spotting topics whose eccentricity lets him juxtapose the baleful past and the cuckoo present in arresting, provocative, hugely entertaining ways. Most readers first discovered his originality thanks to 1998’s Confederates in the Attic, which turned the wacky world of Civil War reenactors into fodder for an inspired, seriocomic meditation on the war itself as America’s ultimate unfinished business.

    He did it again with Blue Latitudes, following in Captain James Cook’s watery footsteps

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  • review • May 23, 2019

    Survival Math: Notes on an All-American Family by Mitchell S. Jackson

    Years ago, I was shopping for a dinner party with my roommate. Our Chicago neighborhood—white ethnic and racist turned gentrified—hadn’t flipped enough to produce a decent seafood counter, so we found ourselves at the Jewel-Osco on Canal, blocks away from Maxwell Street. Witnessing this odd duo (me, black and from the south suburbs; my friend, first-generation Polish from the northwest suburbs), the clerk eyed us from behind the counter. Wrapping up our order in plastic, he asked, “So, where are you from?”

    My roommate began to tell his life story, but I sensed something sinister in the clerk’s

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  • print • Apr/May 2019

    Show Your Work

    Bhaskar Sunkara’s Socialist Manifesto begins by entering an imaginary world. It’s 2018 and “you” are a die-hard fan of Jon Bon Jovi, “the most popular and critically acclaimed musician of this era.” So devoted are you to the singer-songwriter that you’ve found work at the pasta sauce factory his father owns in New Jersey. The job isn’t great, but it’s better than nothing. After a year, your wages rise from $15 an hour to $17, a 13 percent increase that fails to match your recent 25 percent increase in productivity; meanwhile your colleague Debra, who’s been working there for three years, is

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  • print • Apr/May 2019

    Psycho Analysis

    “I never pretended to be an expert on millennials,” writes Bret Easton Ellis halfway through White, and the reader desperately wishes this were true. Ellis is best known for American Psycho, the controversial 1991 cult novel about an image-obsessed Wall Street serial killer; the film adaption would star Christian Bale as psychotic investment banker Patrick Bateman. Following several increasingly metafictional novels and a few bad screenplays, White is Ellis’s first foray into nonfiction, and the result is less a series of glorified, padded-out blog posts than a series of regular, normal-size

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  • print • Apr/May 2019

    Lust Never Sleeps

    We’ve had half a century with The Second Sex, The Dialectic of Sex, Sexual Politics, and all the rest, yet straight men of letters still regard their fossilized sexism and quotidian horniness as windows into existential wisdom. Hard again! the male author marvels while streaming free porn in his book-lined office. What does it all mean? These are the inquiries of those who refuse to read feminists: How would a nerdy man have power over a pretty woman if she’s the one making him want her? How could a man be accused of disrespecting women when he’s so awestruck by their young, sexy bodies? David

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  • print • Apr/May 2019

    Are Your Commie Children Right?

    A specter is haunting the straight white liberal sixtysomething American dad—the specter of his damn socialist kids. A generation that grew up eating Cold War propaganda with their cornflakes confronts one in which socialism regularly outpolls capitalism, and it’s happening across the breakfast table. New Yorker writer Adam Gopnik’s new book, A Thousand Small Sanities: The Moral Adventure of Liberalism, is a manual for the dad side, a work of rousing reassurance for open-minded men who are nonetheless sick of losing political debates to teenagers whose meals they buy.

    The book is epistolary—though

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  • print • Apr/May 2019

    A Novel History

    At the end of Alice Munro’s short story “Meneseteung,” which reconstructs in painfully intimate detail the life of an all but unknown woman poet in a small Ontario town in the late nineteenth century, Munro’s narrator discovers the poet’s grave, overgrown and forgotten a century later. “I thought that there wasn’t anybody alive in the world but me who would know this, who would make the connection,” she says. “But perhaps this isn’t so. People are curious. A few people are. . . . You see them going around with notebooks, scraping the dirt off gravestones, reading microfilm, just in the hope of

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  • print • Apr/May 2019

    Now You See It

    Even in a decade not wanting for political weirdness, one of the weirder aspects of the past ten years has been American empire’s guilty conscience with respect to itself. On the campaign trail, both our current and our previous president complained about imperial overreach, about “stupid” wars that cost billions of dollars and weren’t winning the country any new friends. Then, in office, each president kept prosecuting those same wars, editing around the margins without fundamentally changing the scope of the country’s military presence around the world. On both sides of the aisle, our

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  • print • Feb/Mar 2019

    We Screwed Up!

    When did Facebook start to seem evil? Was it last March, when United Nations investigators accused the platform of enabling the ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya minority in Myanmar? Or was it a few days after that, when it was revealed that the consulting firm Cambridge Analytica had harvested millions of people’s personal data to target votes, momentarily sending Facebook’s reputation (and stock) plummeting? Or in 2014, when researchers revealed that they had conducted a massive psychological experiment on nearly 700,000 users—without their consent—to determine whether manipulating feeds to

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  • print • Feb/Mar 2019

    Long Division

    Michael Tomasky wants his readers to understand right up front that If We Can Keep It: How the Republic Collapsed and How It Might Be Saved isn’t just another liberal screed provoked by anguish at Donald Trump’s presidency. “Chapter for chapter, most of this book could have appeared just as it now stands” if Hillary Clinton had won the White House, he tells us, and he began mulling the project in the full expectation she was going to do just that. Since Tomasky has written generally favorable books about both her and Bill, it’s a safe guess that she’d have been his beleaguered heroine in that

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