May 2012

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Wineglass Bay

Tasmania's New Devil

Tasmania has been called “The Island of Inspiration,” but its reputation was more rugged: Australia’s Alcatraz and Appalachia. With one big bet, however, an art-loving professional gambler has made Tasmania into the world’s most surprising new cultural destination

Tasmanian Devil

Sympathy for the Devil

Tasmania’s most famous inhabitant is under attack by a diabolical disease

The narrow-gauge Durango & Silverton train steams through history above the Animas River.

The 10 Best Small Towns in America

Concerts! Festivals! Jeeps! (Yes, Jeeps.) We’ve crunched the numbers and found the most interesting small towns in the country. So open your mind, buckle up your seat belt and map out your summer of smart fun

Niihau, Kauai, Oahu, Molokai, Lanai, Kahoolawe, Maui and the Big Island

A Man and His Islands

Paul Theroux has traveled to more than 100 countries to write his best sellers. Depending on the kindness of strangers to take him in and share their stories. But the land he has found hardest to explore is the place he calls home.

Mark Strand

There Is No Wind in Oslo

Read the new poem by the American poet and professor


Dreams of Kenya

The dusty village near the shores of scenic Lake Victoria where Barack Obama’s father was raised had high hopes after his son was elected president. What has happened since then? Joshua Hammer journeyed to Nyang’oma Kogelo to find out

John Hatch

Mexican Mission

Mitt Romney’s father was born in a small Mormon enclave where family members still live, surrounded by rugged beauty and violent drug cartels. Héctor Tobar traveled to Colonia Juarez to explore the presumptive Republican nominee’s tenacious roots

Kelly Slater surfboard

Chairman of the Board

All hail Kelly Slater, the greatest surfer of all time

African penguins

Make Way for Penguins

Few places let you get as close to the raffish birds—many of which are endangered—as South Africa’s Robben Island, where scientists working in the shadow of the notorious prison that once held Nelson Mandela are coming to grips with one of the most alarming population crashes in the avian world

Nelson Mandela in prison looking out window

A Monument To Courage

Robben Island: A Monument to Courage




From the Editor

Going Places

Travel pushes us. Home pulls

Letters to the Editor

The Conversation

Readers Respond to the April Issue

From the Castle

The Green Museum

Secretary Clough writes on the benefits of being an environmentally savvy institution



Be it ever so humble, it’s more than just a place. It’s also an idea—one where the heart is. The author of The Rural Life and other books explains

Where They Lived

A photographer's images of domestic tranquillity pay tribute to fallen U.S. service members


What a Slide!

Last year major-leaguers scored the fewest runs per game in 19 seasons. A top statistician says that’s something to root, root, root for


Housing Index

American real estate numbers to dwell on


Land of the Free

The Homestead Act transformed America into an ownership society and a rising global power


Flight Plan

Birds must be geniuses because they use quantum mechanics to navigate


Home Sweet Homer

Twenty-five years after the Simpsons made their TV debut, creator Matt Groening talks about Homer's odyssey—and his own


Onward, Voyagers

With the spacecraft poised to leave our solar system, the writer who helped compile the time capsules they carry reflects on our deepest foray into outer space


The Conscience of the King

Robert Caro has written the book of the season, the latest installment of his remarkable biography of Lyndon Baines Johnson, a very American tale of Shakespearean tragedy and triumph


Fruit Punch

The man who helped make the banana an American favorite also mercilessly used his company’s power to topple foreign governments

Around the Mall

Out of the Flames

Letters salvaged from the Hindenburg disaster tell new stories

Around the Mall

Playlist: Kings of Romance

The Latin American artists discuss how their career began over 50 years ago

Around the Mall

This Just In: Freedom Fighter

Two portraits of Fred Korematsu, the face of the Japanese American internment of World War II, have been donated to the National Portrait Gallery

Around the Mall

Ask Smithsonian

Your questions answered by our experts

Around the Mall


Fast Forward

Shot In the Dark

The search for the mysterious cosmic energies driving the universe