December 2008

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Sufi pilgrim dancing

Faith and Ecstasy

The believers in Islamic mysticism embrace a personal approach to their faith and a different outlook on how to run their government

John White illustration of an Atlantic loggerhead

Brave New World

The watercolors that John White produced in 1585 gave England its first startling glimpse of America

Hagia Sophia

Fading Glory

In Istanbul, secularists and fundamentalists clash over restoring the nearly 1,500 year-old structure

Audry Hepburn

Karsh Reality

Yousuf Karsh took a singular approach to fame and the famous

Displaced Pygmies

The Pygmies' Plight

A correspondent who chronicled their lives in central African rain forests returns a decade later and is shocked by what he finds

U.S. Capitol

Capitol Fellow

In 1792, William Thornton designed America's defining monument, where a new visitor center opens in December


Indelible Images

Moment of Reckoning

One of three civil rights workers murdered in Mississippi in 1964 was James Chaney. His younger brother would never be the same

My Kind of Town

Splendor in the Bluegrass

Far from her Northern roots, the best-selling novelist discovers a new sense of home amid rolling hills and Thoroughbred farms


What's Killing the Aspen?

The signature tree of the Rockies is in trouble

From the Editor

Big Deals

Revelry and Architecture

Letters to the Editor


Readers Respond to the November Issue

This Month in History

December Anniversaries

The Great White Hope, Beethoven, and more...

From the Castle

Channel Too

In just under two years, the award-winning Smithsonian Channel has created a strong library of fascinating documentaries

Around the Mall

The Past is Prologue

How a Film Helped Preserve a Native Culture

Around the Mall

Holiday Spirit

The Object at Hand

Beyond Words

Lincoln's timeless speech during the Civil War endures as a national treasure


Q & A: Christo and Jeanne-Claude

The artists discuss Running Fence, their 1976 fabric installation that ran through Northern California and subject of an upcoming Smithsonian exhibition

Around the Mall

Stardust Memories

Cosmic dust may reveal some of the uncovered secrets of our universe

What's Up

What's Up

Lincoln's face, African alchemy, and Victory Mail are all on display at Smithsonian museums

Presence of Mind

Woman, Interrupted

Mary Pinchot Meyer's death remains a mystery. But it's her life that holds more interest now

The Last Page

Amazon Warriors

Thanks to the Internet, everyone's a book critic