Benjamin Wallace-Wells

Invisible Shove

Russian man defects from the Soviet Union in the years before perestroika, arrives on our shores, and walks into an American supermarket. He discovers, for the first time, abundance: brilliantly lit aisles of long shelves stacked to a high ceiling and loaded with dozens of varieties of every imaginable good, each more or less affordable… Read more »

Gang Leader for a Day

t has been something of a surprise, given that the problems of the American inner city have become a less urgent public obsession in recent years, to discover an emerging renaissance in the field of ghetto sociology. In popular culture, the pioneer in this arena has been David Simon, the creator of the HBO series… Read more »

The Big Lie

In May 1922, a wealthy family of four was driving home to San Francisco from a day trip in the Santa Cruz mountains when a second car forced them off the road. A gunman stuck a revolver through the drivers window and demanded money. The father, Henry Wilkins, handed him three $100 bills, but the… Read more »

Little Big Man

In 1712, a first child was born to the militarist prince Frederick William of Prussia. A year shy of the throne himself, Frederick had high hopes for his son, the future Frederick II. But the child was small, sickly … delicate, backward, and puny, writes the journalist Stephen S. Hall in Size Matters, his engaging… Read more »

Analyze This

Chrysler believed all these things because their customers had told them so. The focus groups had been nearly unanimous, the market research conclusive. The Wrangler had been a consistently profitable model for many years, however, and several decision-makers at the company remained ambivalent about reworking one of their signature brands. One consultant, a former clinical… Read more »