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Smithsonian MagazineSmithsonian Magazine

Smithsonian Magazine October 2018

Smithsonian Magazine takes you on a journey through history, science, world culture and technology with breathtaking images from around the world.

United States
Smithsonian Institute
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11 Issues


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from the editors

FOR THE FIFTH CONSECUTIVE YEAR, America’s first spymaster, George Washington, graced the cover of our “Secrets of American History” issue. Among the revelations was Liza Mundy’s new reporting on the unsung women code breakers of Project Venona, who toppled Soviet spies in the Cold War—a story that Fortune hailed as “fascinating.” Eleonor Moore of Roscommon, Michigan, said she’s “always in awe of stories about women who had amazing unknown roles in history.” Believe it or not, readers were most riled about “Call of the Wild Man,” our skeptical essay about Bigfoot. “Why is mainstream science so threatened by this phenomenon that it blindly refuses to even investigate it?” asked Thomas Denton of Eustis, Florida. On Facebook Andrew Gangidine mused, “The idea that there’s more than just us out there is……

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William T. Vollmann The prolific author has devoted much of his work to dissecting war, from An Afghanistan Picture Show, or, How I Saved the World, which details his time with the mujahideen, to Rising Up and Rising Down, his seven-volume study of violence, to Europe Central, his National Book Award-winning novel set in Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia. The key to writing about this part of the human condition, he says, “is to be empathetic. We have to use our imaginations and try to see life as our brothers and sisters see it.” For the centennial of World War I’s conclusion, Vollmann marched along the French front to excavate the war’s memories (p. 48). Margaret Kimball The illustrator first started drawing maps while working on a graphic memoir because she wanted to…

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prepare for departure

WHEN THE FIRST BOEING 747 rolled from the hangar in Everett, Washington, 50 years ago, onlookers were stunned. The aircraft before them, gleaming in the morning sunshine, was more than double the size and weight of any existing jetliner. An airplane of firsts and superlatives, the 747 owed its instant fame mostly to feats of size. It was the first jetliner with two aisles—two floors, even!—and enormous as it was, the 747 had gone from a literal back-of-a-napkin drawing to a fully functional aircraft in just over two years, an astonishing achievement. A decade earlier Boeing’s 707 had ushered in the Jet Age, but with four fuel-thirsty engines and room for fewer than 200 passengers, fares were beyond the budget of most vacationers. The 747 introduced economies of scale that, for…

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frequent fliers

DOES IT SEEM AS IF EVERYONE IN YOUR FACEBOOK FEED is climbing Machu Picchu? It’s not your imagination. Peru has been among the fastest-growing overseas destinations (a term that excludes Mexico and Canada) for American travelers for decades, on track to overtake the United Kingdom, annually the top in number of visits, by 2041, a Smithsonian analysis found. Here’s a look at how our travel habits have changed—and the forces that influence our choices. TRENDING DESTINATIONS 1980s Colombia Jamaica Australia Spain Peru South Korea Philippines 1990s Turkey Israel Peru South Africa India Brazil China 2000s Argentina Turkey Israel Philippines China India Greece 2010s Philippines Ireland Thailand Peru Colombia Austria Switzerland TOP DESTINATIONS 1980s-2010s United Kingdom France Germany Italy Bahamas Jamaica Japan VECTEEZY.COM; SOURCE: U.S. NATIONAL TRAVEL AND TOURISM OFFICE…

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some like it haute

SINCE IT WAS BUILT for the Universal Exhibition in 1900, the Grand Palais, a soaring ode to glass and steel just off the Champs-Élysées, has evoked a particularly Parisian glamor. So when another French icon, the fashion house Chanel, granted photographer Cathleen Naundorf exclusive access to its design archives, she knew the Beaux-Arts landmark would make the ideal setting for her dreamlike images. “It’s glass, it’s steel, it’s light. If you see my camera, it’s the same,” says Naundorf, who works with a vintage 1980s Deardorff and 8x10 Polaroid film, the kind that develops in minutes. Her technique, on display in her new book Women of Singular Beauty: Chanel Haute Couture, reflects the handcrafted opulence of Chanel’s gowns and the Grand Palais itself—while rendering impossible the computer retouching ubiquitous in…

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the afterlife of beetlejuice

WHILE WE WERE SHOOTING, I’d say to myself, what the hell is this?” the actor Alec Baldwin recalls of his starring role in Beetlejuice. “Even trying to explain to people what the movie was about—it was difficult. People gave me the most crazy, blank stare.” Thirty years later, the madcap macabre little miracle of talent and stop-motion animation directed by Tim Burton is still hard to boil down. Bare bones, it’s what happens when the Maitlands, a couple of married New England ghosts (Baldwin and Geena Davis), fail to scare away the appalling New York yuppies who purchase their beloved Victorian home. The sweet spirits are forced to call on the services of the maniacal…