Recent Work & Favorites

The Women Who Showed Us Life

At the entrance to the new exhibition at the New-York Historical Society’s Center for Women’s History looms a photograph that is oddly abstract and resolutely concrete, a row of conical towers forming part of the hulking Fort Peck Dam in Montana. The photograph covered the first issue of LIFE in 1936 and was captured by Margaret Bourke-White, the first and best known of the handful of female photojournalists on the magazine’s staff.

What This Journalist Learned About Female Desire by Following Ordinary Women

The description of Lisa Taddeo’s Three Women makes it sound like literary fiction aimed firmly at female readers: a lyrical, intimate exploration of the emotional and sexual lives of ordinary women. But Taddeo isn’t inventing her characters’ stories. They’re the result of a decade of immersive journalism, research and countless interviews in pursuit of what she calls “longing in America.”

Jack the Ripper’s victims are famous in death, but what were their lives like?

Jack the Ripper, the serial killer who terrorized London’s East End in the late 19th century, may be the catalyst for historian Hallie Rubenhold’s fascinating new book, but he is in no way its subject. Readers who wish to linger over the bloody details of the murders or speculate as to the killer’s still-unknown identity will have to look elsewhere, in the rich seam of Ripper lore. This is a story of life, not death.

Britain’s Boarding School Problem

When socially privileged children are separated from their families at a tender age, some develop what psychotherapists have called “Boarding School Syndrome”: “a defensive and protective encapsulation of the self,” in which they learn to hide emotion, fake maturity, and assert dominance over anyone weaker. They develop loyalty to their institutional tribe and suspicion of outsiders; they become bullies devoted to winning above all.

History—and a Glimmer of Hope—in a Whiskey Glass

JUST AFTER FIVE O’CLOCK in the morning on April 18, 1906, what came to be known as the San Francisco earthquake trembled down the coast from southern Oregon to Los Angeles and inland as far as Nevada. “Rumors of great disaster from an earthquake in San Francisco, but know nothing of real facts,” President Roosevelt wrote anxiously to the Governor of California, eager for some solid ground to stand upon. There was no reply.

The Depression Era’s Magic Bullet For Weight Loss

Recently, the New York Times published a sobering story on the alumni of the 2009 season of The Biggest Loser. A study showed that almost all of those who had publicly lost hundreds of pounds on the show’s punishing diet and exercise regime had gained nearly all of it back, unless they made staying slim the focus of every waking moment. Their resting metabolism, it turned out, had been broken down to a murmur by the weight loss.

The True Story of Rupert Brooke

April 23rd 2015 marks a hundred years since the death of Rupert Brooke, who for most of the past century has ranked among Britain’s best-known and most beloved cultural figures. A poet of the First World War who never saw action, he is famous mainly for one sonnet, “The Soldier,” from a sequence of five, and then mainly for its opening lines: “If I should die, think only this of me:/ That there’s some corner of a foreign field/ That is forever England."

Gentlemen For Rent

Cities like New York have a way of coming up with solutions—skyscrapers, doormen, take-out coffee, laundry delivery, human rickshaws—to problems that they create themselves. In the late nineteen-thirties, as the city was gearing up to show off its forward-looking technological ingenuity at the World’s Fair, a problem that it hadn’t solved was what to do about unaccompanied women—both those who lived and worked in the city and those who would be visiting to stroll through the “World of Tomorrow.”
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