Central America

The Most Dangerous Job in the World

How did 900 bus drivers end up dead in Guatemala City?

How did 900 bus drivers end up dead in Guatemala City?

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After The Fall

On Saturday night, April 24, 2010, five days before John Edwards’s mistress Rielle Hunter sat down with Oprah to talk about the by-then-infamous sex tape and other embarrassments that had destroyed his political career, the former presidential candidate showed up at the West End Wine Bar in downtown Durham, North Carolina. It was around ten o’clock, and Edwards wanted a glass of wine after finishing dinner with friends at a nearby restaurant. When he got to the door, Edwards was disappointed to learn the bar was closed for a private event.

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Over a decade ago, I trundled my good-natured family across miles of southern Switzerland to see every building I could by Peter Zumthor, who is this year's winner of the Pritzker Prize. Then as now, most of Zumthor's work was off the beaten track, not only literally but metaphorically, little known to the general public although admired by professionals.

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Border Wars

A battered yellow school bus rumbles up a bumpy dirt road on the outskirts of Sasabe, a small Mexican town just over the border from Arizona. At the top of the hill, the bus winds around brick and mud huts. Ragged children stand in the doorways, and emaciated dogs forage for scraps. The bus passes dented pickups and old cars without wheels and stops in a dusty clearing, where it disgorges about 40 teenagers dressed in blue jeans and carrying small knapsacks. One boy’s t-shirt features a picture of Che Guevara. A girl’s pale blue top says ADORABLE in sequined letters.

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Exorcisms

The Feast of the Goat by Mario Vargas Llosa translated by Edith Grossman (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 404 pp., $25) "There are no limits to deterioration: it can always be worse." This observation by Alejandro Mayta, the disenchanted guerrilla fighter of Mario Vargas Llosa's novel The Real Life of Alejandro Mayta, who returns to his birthplace after many years, freed of ghosts but devoid of hope, came to mind in March, 1990.

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Hertzberg: Where were you when the Wall fell?

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Roboflop

Despite his pee-pants performance in the Omaha debate against Lloyd Bentsen, it looks as if Dan Quayle, 41, will be president one of these days. Consider the politico-actuarial probabilities. Assuming the Republican lead endures, the junior senator from Indiana will be elected vice president. This alone will give him an even chance of becoming president. Three out of the last five presidents were vice president first. Seven out of the last ten vice presidents have ended up heading a national ticket, and four (five if you presumptively count George Bush) got all the way to the Oval Office.

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How the CIA masterminded the Nicaraguan insurgency.

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The Case of Honduras

A fragile democracy on the edge of a whirlwind.

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