Targeted Killing: The New Questions

David Cole

Jane Rosenberg/Associated Press

To kill or capture? That is the chilling question that US officials—and even members of Congress—reportedly ask behind closed doors these days. Revelations in a Brooklyn terrorism case show that parts of our government wanted to kill, without a trial, a citizen who, even if convicted, will now face a maximum of fifteen years in prison.

China: What the Uighurs See

Ian Johnson

Carolyn Drake

Xinjiang is one of those remote places whose frequent mention in the international press stymies true understanding. American photographer Carolyn Drake has come to know the region well, and struggled to break free from its clichés. The summation of her work is Wild Pigeon, an ambitious, beautiful, and crushingly sad book.

Georges Perec’s Lost Novel

David Bellos

Jean-Claude Deutsch/Paris Match via Getty Images

I went to dine with a former journalist who’d met Georges Perec at the Moulin d’Andé, the writer’s retreat in Normandy that was Perec’s second home in the later 1960s. Toward the end of the evening, he let it out that someone had once given him a Perec manuscript to look at. Could I perhaps tell him what it was? He went to a wardrobe, pulled out a manila envelope and handed it to me.

A Hollywood Exorcism

Francine Prose

Prospero Pictures/Focus World

What’s exciting about Maps to the Stars, David Cronenberg and Bruce Wagner’s new film about Los Angeles, is the inventiveness and ease with which it stakes out a dark corner of territory under the bright California sun. It’s Hollywood hell, populated by suffering souls: comic, sad, frightening characters, who are believable, more than slightly weird, and all, it turns out, connected.

Ukraine: Two Poets in the War

Tim Judah

Larry Towell/Magnum Photos

In general terms, most Ukrainians, are more united than ever and many say that Vladimir Putin and the war have done more to strengthen Ukrainian patriotism than anything since independence in 1991. But it is impossible to ignore that the conflict is by now not only a matter of aggression by Russia but also a civil war in the east.

A New Future for Iranian Physics?

Jeremy Bernstein

DigitalGlobe via Getty Images

One of the most interesting parts of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action reached between the P5+1 countries and Iran has to do with the enrichment facility at Fordow. According to the plan, the facility is to be wholly converted to peaceful purposes. But the important thing to know about Fordow is its underground location.

The Lost Purpose of School Reform

Diane Ravitch

Bruce Davidson/Magnum Photos

Fifty years ago, Congress passed a federal education law to help poor children get a good public education. As the House and the Senate now debate a reauthorization of No Child Left Behind, it is crucial to understand the law’s origins and how it has evolved over time.

A Book in the Darkness

Charles Simic

Félix Vallotton

One of the compensations of being an insomniac in a snowbound house full of books is that I can always find something to read and distract myself from whatever mood I’m in. As a snooze-inducer, nothing comes close to poetry, or a story you’ve already read.

Yemen: The Houthi Enigma

Robert F. Worth

Mohammed Hamoud/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Safa al Ahmad’s remarkable BBC documentary, Yemen: The Rise of the Houthis, is a rare close-up look at the most mysterious player in this agonizing and complex drama. The Houthi movement, which grew out of a deep sense of victimization by the state, has long been an enigma, even to many Yemenis, and it defies easy explanation.