Madeline Miller is the author of The Song of Achilles
Elizabeth von Arnim's The Enchanted April opens with misery — not catastrophic, but ordinary: cold rain, sodden clothes, unhappy relationships, constricted life. It's so vivid you can almost feel your nose running and hear the squelching of your ruined shoes. Miserable March, it might be called, and we've all been there.
Jessica Dobson plays guitar in the newest incarnation of The Shins, James Mercer's well-known outlet for supremely precious, sweetly self-effacing indie-pop. With her band Deep Sea Diver and its first album History Speaks, Dobson assembles a complex, precisely arranged and lyrically pensive suite of songs about heartbreak and yearning. The result is no less fun or toe-tappable than the product of her more famous day job, but it also achieves tremendous density and depth in its own right.
Ron Paul is not going to be the Republican nominee for president in 2012. You know it, I know it, everyone knows it. Even Ron Paul knows it. His acknowledgement that Mitt Romney will be the nominee is just stating the obvious.
But what exactly did he mean when he said last week that he will "no longer spend resources campaigning in primaries in states that have not voted"? Was he telling us that he was dropping out of the race?
The TV show House is airing its final episode Monday night on FOX, Desperate Housewives on ABC ended last week and NBC has announced that 30 Rock will have its final episodes this fall. TV and media critic Eric Deggans of the Tampa Bay Times explains why choosing to end a show, rather than getting canceled, presents a creative opportunity for the producers.
With world leaders gathered for a NATO summit in Chicago, high on their agenda is the future of Afghanistan once Western troops withdraw. Among the leaders there is the president of Pakistan. Pakistan has been keeping NATO from using critical military supply routes running through that country to Afghanistan, something that's irritated NATO countries, whose troops are fighting in Afghanistan.
NATO commanders say the mantra of the Afghan alliance has been "in together, out together." That means keeping combat forces in the country through 2014 — even though some member countries like France plan to bring their troops home sooner.
To get a feeling for what being sick in America is really like, and to help us understand the findings of our poll with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health, NPR did a call-out on Facebook. We asked people to share their experiences of the health care system, and within 24 hours, we were flooded with close to 1,000 responses.
Members of Congress are often criticized for what they do — or rather, what they don't do.
But what about what they say and, more specifically, how they say it? It turns out that the sophistication of congressional speech-making is on the decline, according to the open government group the Sunlight Foundation. Since 2005, the average grade level at which members of Congress speak has fallen by almost a full grade.
The shock waves of the Arab Spring continue to reshape countries like Egypt and Syria. But the kingdom of Saudi Arabia remains largely unaffected. King Abdullah and the Saudi ruling family are in firm control of the country's massive oil wealth and Islam's two holiest sites — Mecca and Medina.