Recent Posts

For the Love of Trees

Peter Crane— Recent estimates suggest that there are roughly three trillion trees in the world, almost half the number that are thought to have existed prior to their widespread use and manipulation by people over the past 10,000 years.  Every year it is estimated that perhaps 15 billion trees are

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Myths That Make History

Graham Seal— Ancient though their origins may be, the world’s many myths and legends have played an important role in history. Frightening fables of unknown southern lands, tales of lost cities, and endless rumors of hidden hordes of gold have motivated many of the world’s greatest explorations. Five centuries before

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Shakespeare 400: Why Hamlet?

Gabriel Josipovici— Hamlet is the best-known work of literature in the English (and perhaps any) language, but it is also one of the most puzzling. We all feel we know it intimately, yet when we try to put that knowledge into words we find we hardly know it at all.

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What is a Database of Dreams?

Rebecca Lemov— A little-known turning point in the prosecution of World War II war crimes occurred in 1945 at Nuremberg. Sitting on his prison cot was Hermann Göring, recently captured Reichsfeldmarschall, founder of the Sturmabteilung (SA), creator of the first concentration camps, and a man who, not many weeks before,

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A Conversation with Richard Conniff

The Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History turns 150 this year, and to celebrate, we spoke with Richard Conniff, author of House of Lost Worlds, about some of the fascinating stories from the museum’s long history. Yale University Press: Why should we care about natural history museums? Richard Conniff: The business

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The Lingering Damage of a Deadly Hurricane

Stephen Long— It can seem like a long wait for Spring to replace the browns and grays of the woods with tints of green. But this time of year has its benefits. Before lush growth turns the woods into a maze of green, we have a chance at an unobstructed

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Rethinking America’s Harsh Criminal Justice System

James Q. Whitman— Over the past few years there has been a growing sense of crisis in American criminal justice–a sense on both the right and the left that our punishment practices have spun out of control.  The Koch brothers have been collaborating with the Obama administration in the effort

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Words and Politics: Lessons from Nuremberg

Joel E. Dimsdale— Seventy years ago the international military tribunal at Nuremberg sentenced Julius Streicher to death for incitement of violence. It was one of the court’s most controversial judgments. Streicher was so loathsome that the Nazi party confined him to house arrest in 1940. Thus, it was hard to

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Thoreau’s Life with Flowers

Geoff Wisner— After graduating from Harvard College in 1837, Henry David Thoreau returned to the village of Concord, where he taught school with his older brother John. At least once a week the Thoreau brothers took the students out for a walk or a boating excursion. On one of these

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