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PUBLISHED: March 14, 2021

In an effort to better acquaint you, the reader, with the VQR staff, members of our team will share excerpts from our personal reading—The Best 200 Words I Read All Week. From fact to fiction, from comedic to tragic, we hope you find as much to admire in these selections as we do. 


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2020 has been kind to Turchin, for many of the same reasons it has been hell for the rest of us. Cities on fire, elected leaders endorsing violence, homicides surging—­­to a normal American, these are apocalyptic signs. To Turchin, they indicate that his models, which incorporate thousands of years of data about human history, are working. (“Not all of human history,” he corrected me once. “Just the last 10,000 years.”) He has been warning for a decade that a few key social and political trends portend an “age of discord,” civil unrest and carnage worse than most Americans have experienced. In 2010, he predicted that the unrest would get serious around 2020 [..]

The fundamental problems, he says, are a dark triad of social maladies: a bloated elite class, with too few elite jobs to go around; declining living standards among the general population; and a government that can’t cover its financial positions. His models, which track these factors in other societies across history, are too complicated to explain in a nontechnical publication. But they’ve succeeded in impressing writers for nontechnical publications, and have won him comparisons to other authors of “megahistories,” such as Jared Diamond and Yuval Noah Harari.

Editorial Intern Ana Garcia
“The Next Decade Could Be Even Worse”, by Graeme Wood, in the Atlantic


The first episode of “The Test Kitchen” was widely praised by podcast listeners who couldn’t wait for the next installment.

Released in February, it aimed to capture a critical decade inside the food magazine Bon Appétit. It was a story of top editors, most of them white; contract recipe developers, some of them people of color; and young, Black editorial employees trying to make changes.

That story had been told in strands on social media starting last spring, by former Bon Appétit employees and people who knew them. These people described tokenism and pay inequities, and they created a broad dialogue about appropriation in food media — all against the backdrop of widespread protests and a global conversation about racism and fairness.

Now in “The Test Kitchen,” the details would unfurl over four episodes, as a production of “Reply All,” a beloved podcast about the intersection of life and the internet that has drawn more than four million monthly listeners.

It turned out Bon Appétit’s history would be a little too instructive.

Assistant Editor Heidi Siegrist
Excerpt from “What Really Happened at ‘Reply All’?”, by Katherine Rosman and Reggie Ugwu, in the New York Times


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