All CultureMaps

Includes: Bob Hope • Rahm Emanuel • Ron Reagan • Geraldine Chaplin

Years of rigorous training turn dancers’ bodies into exquisite instruments of artistic expression. Yet studying dance also instills a rich array of personal qualities—self-discipline, poise, confidence, coordination, focus—that can be parlayed into careers in all kinds of professions. This map features some of the surprising number of people who began as dancers before switching fields. Although they eventually became Batgirl, Rhoda, Bob Hope and the mayor of Chicago, first they danced. Start reading >>

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Includes: Sierra Entertainment • Maniac MansionGrim Fandango • Monkey Island

In 2014, legendary video game creator Tim Schafer announced a remastered Grim Fandango to a cheering crowd at gaming’s annual E3 convention. Sixteen years after its original release, players had a chance to experience an enhanced version of a critical darling so many had ignored. How could a game played by so few get such an enthusiastic response? The answer lies in the innovative minds at LucasArts and in Schafer’s own mad creativity. Start reading >>

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Includes: Japonisme • James McNeill Whistler • Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec • Ukiyo-e Prints

Before Commodore Matthew Perry forcibly opened Japan to Western trade in the 1850s, Europeans and Americans had little familiarity with Japanese art forms other than ceramics. Within a decade, however, Western artists and collectors had fallen under the spell of Japanese art, in a cultural love affair the French called Japonisme. The fascination persists today—in popular forms like manga and anime—and has been mirrored in Japanese artists’ enthusiastic emulation of Western creative expression. Start reading >>

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Includes: Marlene Dietrich • Victor Victoria • k.d. lang • Tomboys

To “wear the pants” means to wield the authority that patriarchal culture invests in trouser-clad males. So when women cross-dress, stepping out of their skirts and into clothing meant to be worn by men, they traverse a boundary that is more than just sartorial. This map takes some measurements of the impact female-to-male transvestism has had in film and performance. Start reading >>

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Includes: The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test • Larry McMurtry • The Last Picture ShowLonesome Dove

Western writer Larry McMurtry claims his fiction is misunderstood. Readers celebrate his works’ heroism and romance, but McMurtry maintains his intention is to de-spur cowboys and sabotage myths about the American frontier. Lonesome Dove depicts the harsh lives of retired Texas Rangers; his Brokeback Mountain screenplay portrays a tragically unhappy cowboy love story; The Last Picture Show exposes a Texas town’s ugly underbelly. Subversive or not, McMurtry spins a darn good yarn. Start reading >>

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Includes: A HumumentTodaySmoke • Henry Darger

Artworks, or series of them, can take over an artist’s life, becoming an obsession, a compulsion and a raison d’être. This map follows some seemingly OCD-afflicted creators, such as visionary 19th-century poets William Blake, whose illustrated poems form a densely connected whole, and Walt Whitman, who repeatedly revised his collection Leaves of Grass across 40 years. A few contemporary artists are also here, including several whose phenomenal achievements surfaced only after their death. Start reading >>

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Includes: Lapis Lazuli • Satin Bowerbird • Joni Mitchell • The Blues

The color blue relates to much more than just sadness. It underlies the rich exoticism of lapis lazuli, the once greedily coveted source of the pigment ultramarine. Blue can symbolize desire; even Australia’s satin bowerbirds use blue objects in their courtship rituals. And artists the world over have dedicated major works to blue’s many depths. The color has a way of seizing the imagination, often from out of the blue. Start reading >>

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Includes: Uncle Remus • Bugs Bunny • Odysseus • Native American Folklore

In Africa, the Tabwa people tell tales of Kalulu, a trickster hare. Among the Cherokee, he’s known as Jistu. On Saturday mornings, he’s called Bugs Bunny. Tricksters lurk in the rabbit holes, spiderwebs and coyote dens of world folklore. They’re quick and cunning, impulsive and animated, and they relish playing tricks on dullards. Tricksters traditionally serve to explain natural phenomena or entertain children, but sometimes they inspire the oppressed—and guide them in revolt. Start reading >>

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Includes: Court Jesters • Commedia dell’Arte • Bozo • Whiteface

The clown has been a standard character in the human drama from antiquity through the court jesters and commedia dell’arte troupes of medieval Europe to mid-20th-century America’s red-haired clown Bozo. We associate clowning with humor and laughter, but sad and evil clowns elicit other emotions. Humanity’s deep-seated mistrust of masked faces has engendered coulrophobia, the fear of clowns. Nonetheless, the clown has served as muse for writers as diverse as Shakespeare and Stephen King. Start reading >>

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Includes: Bitcoin • Silk Road • Mining Bitcoins • TEOTMSAWKI

At first glance, Bitcoin and gold seem like polar opposites. Gold is a familiar and tangible object; Bitcoin, a currency that exists only in the virtual world, is a novel abstract concept that cannot be held or seen. Despite their differences, both types of wealth are hoarded by those who think the international monetary system is on the verge of collapse. Both are poised to become the new reserves of post-crash cash. Start reading >>

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Includes: Police Procedurals • Hill Street BluesTwin Peaks • Killers in the Media

With its murder story unreeling across 12 installments, NPR’s hit true-crime podcast Serial returned listeners to the classic days of radio, demonstrating the enduring appeal of investigative procedurals in any medium. We especially love them on television, however. This map inspects the evolution of the police drama—from Hill Street Blues to True Detective, from episodes to installments—and testifies that serial killers, with their built-in continuity, have become the undisputed kingpins of serial drama. Start reading >>

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Includes: En Vogue • The Supremes • Destiny’s Child • TLC

Three decades after the Supremes began their run as the most successful girl group of the 1960s, a new wave of predominantly R&B female acts flooded the music scene. From groups in the street-corner doo-wop mold (En Vogue, SWV) to perfectly packaged pop confections (the Spice Girls) and hip-hop acts (TLC), these performers flourished in the 1990s, delivering girl-power anthems at a time when third-wave feminism was also taking root. Start reading >>

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Includes: Popeye’s Spinach • Steroids • Superfoods • Wheaties

Lucky Popeye. All the wiry little sailor has to do is eat a can of spinach to transform himself into an agile, hard-hitting dynamo. Lots of athletes have tried to achieve similar effects with steroids, while the rest of us are lured into packing our plates with media-hyped superfoods. Steroids, we know, deliver on their promise, albeit illegally in most circumstances. But the jury’s still out on just how “super” many so-called superfoods really are. Start reading >>

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Includes: Hourglass • Angle of Repose • Memento Mori • “Auguries of Innocence”

Most of us don’t give sand much thought, even when we mark it with footprints, but its presence sifts through our culture. The tiny grains signify time’s passage, mortality and the world’s immense wonder. Sand represents instability yet plays a key role in holding together some of our longest-standing buildings. Novelist Wallace Stegner saw in those granules a metaphor for life’s journey. Clearly, there’s more to sand than meets the eye—or the foot. Start reading >>

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Includes: Oedipus the King • Tiresias • Riddle of the Sphinx • Sigmund Freud

With uncanny insight into the psyche, ancient Greek playwright Sophocles told the legendary story of Oedipus, the hapless king who unknowingly murders his father and marries his mother. Whether we view his themes of patricide and incest as symbolic of the human condition or simply as the creepy twists and turns of a soap opera, this strange, timeless story has been ripe material for psychiatrists, novelists and even rock stars. Start reading >>

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Includes: H.P. Lovecraft • Stephen King • “The Lottery” • The Stepford Wives

Some towns contain more secrets than residents. Secluded and set off from cities, where there would be more witnesses to their aberrations, creepy little villages have made great fodder for horror writers H.P. Lovecraft and Stephen King, not to mention Shirley Jackson and Ira Levin. But real-life towns—such as Taiji, Japan, with its brutal annual dolphin hunt—can sometimes be scarier than fiction. Start reading >>

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Includes: The King’s Speech • Claudius • John F. Kennedy • Elphaba Thropp

Brotherly competition, sometimes abetted by parents or parental figures, goes all the way back to Genesis, when the most uncompromising father of all chose Abel’s lamb over brother Cain’s vegan offering. Sibling rivalry has never ceased, nor have sisters been spared its vicissitudes. And as Shakespeare knew, sometimes the less-appreciated sibling—Lear’s daughter Cordelia, say, versus her sisters, Goneril and Regan—is the worthier person. Herewith, some observations on similar cases, historical and fictional. Start reading >>

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Includes: Acupuncture • Western Medicine • Isabel • Narrative Medicine

People go to great lengths to avoid doctors, but it takes more than an apple a day. Now you need acupuncturists, activity trackers and online symptom databases, not to mention positive vibes. And as patients increasingly try to be their own doctor, doctors are trying to restyle themselves as storytellers. Start reading >>

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Includes: J.D. Salinger • Masaoka Shiki • Walt Whitman • Pablo Neruda

Baseball is the most poetic of sports. From Walt Whitman’s free verse and Masaoka Shiki’s haiku to the tender image of Allie Caulfield’s forsaken mitt scribbled with poems in The Catcher in the Rye, this map shows that baseball is more than just fodder for poetry—it’s poetry itself. Start reading >>

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Includes: The Boys in the Band • Camp • Judy Garland • A Star Is Born

In his infamous 1966 article “Homosexual Drama and Its Disguises,” New York Times theater critic Stanley Kauffmann dared gay writers to tell their own stories. His challenge that the “homosexual dramatist must be free to write truthfully of what he knows” inspired Mart Crowley to write a brutally honest and unapologetic play about modern gay life: The Boys in the Band. This map connects Crowley and his play to some iconic Hollywood figures. Start reading >>

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Includes: Cosmos • Neil deGrasse Tyson • Hayden Planetarium • Pluto

Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson tirelessly promotes scientific literacy as a civic necessity, with a little help from luminaries such as Stephen Colbert. To those who claim to be “not into” science, Tyson counters, “Science is into you.” And to those who reject science on religious grounds, he offers this reassurance: “Accepting our kinship with all life on Earth is not only solid science.… It’s also a soaring spiritual experience.” Start reading >>

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Includes: Anti-Defamation League • American Hate Groups • Henry Ford • Charles Lindbergh

Antisemitism in the United States dates back to colonial times, and its propagators have included not only supremacist groups like the Ku Klux Klan but such widely hailed heroes as Henry Ford and Charles Lindbergh and even a Catholic priest with a popular radio show. This map takes a historical look at the “longest hatred,” in both the public and private sectors, in a nation founded on the tenet of religious freedom for everyone. Start reading >>

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Includes: No Graven Image • Byzantine Iconoclasm • Muhammad • Erased de Kooning Drawing

Islamist attacks on images and image makers—whether the Taliban’s demolition of the Buddhas of Bamiyan or the terrorist murders of Charlie Hebdo cartoonists—have shocked many people. But we should pause to consider the strong, sometimes violent iconoclastic tendency that runs through all the “religions of the book”: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. This map reveals the roots of iconoclasm while exploring specific instances—historical and present-day, religious and secular. Start reading >>

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Includes: Lady Chatterley’s Lover • The Sexual Revolution • E.M. Forster • Women in Love

D.H. Lawrence (1885–1930), whom fellow British author E.M. Forster called the “greatest imaginative novelist of our generation,” is probably best known for Lady Chatterley’s Lover—“Lady Chatterbox,” to James Joyce. Published in 1928, the novel was branded obscene and banned from the U.S. until 1959 and the U.K. till 1960. Lawrence’s fervid explorations into the essential, sexual nature of human beings have reverberated throughout our culture, inspiring equal measures of adoration and condemnation. Start reading >>

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Includes: William Moulton Marston • Lie Detection • Wonder Woman • Lasso of Truth

Do superheroes experience the same emotions as normal people? That depends on what you consider normal. Feminist superhero Wonder Woman, for example, was meant to embody the best female personality traits. But the clutch of people who created her—a psychologist who was also an inventor, a lawyer, a writer and a huckster, and the polyamorous circle of warm, intellectual, unconventional women he loved and respected—was hardly a group most people would find ordinary. Start reading >>

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Includes: Purim • Holi • Mardi Gras • Día de Muertos

Human beings are the only animals who party. Across the world, in every culture, wild festivities interrupt the year to mark seasonal turning points, commemorate important events or just encourage us to drink to excess. Hell, we’ll even invite the dead to come back, briefly, to carouse with us. Far from being time-outs from living, holiday revels are the very stuff of life. Start reading >>

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Includes: The Big ConThe Grifters • Bernard Madoff • Whiz Dicks, Whiskers and Fuzz

The confidence man does not steal, as linguist David Maurer explains in The Big Con, his study of the underworld: “The trusting victim literally thrusts a fat bankroll into his hands.” Victims of grifters, hucksters, con artists and cheats want a return that’s too good to be true. And as long as greed exists, the sharks—from street hustlers to Wall Street financiers—will find plenty of suckers more than willing to be their prey. Start reading >>

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Includes: Existentialism • Theatre of the Absurd • "The Nose" • Waiting for Godot

To call something absurd is not to say it’s meaningless. It’s to say it just doesn’t make sense. Absurdity can be funny or depressing or maddening. Or it can be all these things simultaneously—a lunatic state of affairs explored by artists of the absurd from Franz Kafka to the Marx Brothers to postwar playwrights and contemporary comedians. Start reading >>

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Includes: James Taylor • The Devil and Daniel Johnston • Sylvia Plath • Diane Arbus

Legions of musicians, writers, painters and other artists have battled depression and other serious mental illnesses, taking a journey through darkness from which many never return. While the legacies of Vincent van Gogh, Sylvia Plath, cult musician Daniel Johnston and more have inspired the romantic notion that madness fuels creativity, the lives of these artists also communicate harsh truths about mental instability and its common bend toward self-destruction. Start reading >>

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Includes: The Bible • Westboro Baptist Church • Ex-Gays • Trembling Before G–d

The posture of the world’s major religions toward homosexual behavior has, across history, been mostly one of censure, and conservative believers continue to regard homosexuality as sinful. But in some progressive denominations, LGBT people have won acceptance, including rights to ordination and marriage. And they take heart from an attitude that honors same-sex bonds, increasingly being voiced within and outside their faith traditions. Start reading >>

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Includes: Margaret Thatcher • First-Wave Punk • Ronald Reagan • Pussy Riot

A defiant political and social outlook has always driven punk rock. But as the genre has been recast into grunge and other styles over the decades, issues have emerged for which the “correct” rebellious response is less obvious. What happens if you make it big despite your best efforts not to sell out? What happens when punk becomes enshrined in high culture? This map tackles punk outrage—and aesthetics—from its origins to the present. Start reading >>

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Includes: Francis Ford Coppola • Apocalypse NowDispatches • “Terminate With Extreme Prejudice”

Using Joseph Conrad’s allegorical novella Heart of Darkness as a framework, Apocalypse Now vividly and disturbingly depicts the Vietnam conflict as a mad and purposeless enterprise. The movie also borrows material from numerous other sources, including Richard Wagner’s music, combat reporter Michael Herr’s Dispatches and T.S. Eliot’s poetry. The story behind the film’s ambitious scope and turbulent production in many ways resembles the chaotic, brutal war that director Francis Ford Coppola sought to portray. Start reading >>

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Includes: Esperanto • William Shatner • Klingon • J.R.R. Tolkien

As if the number of natural human languages (nearly 7,000) weren’t enough, people keep creating new ones. Motivations for inventing constructed languages, or “conlangs” (also referred to as planned languages or, in some cases, fictional or artistic languages), range from the high-minded to the goofball. So why would anyone bother learning a made-up language, as opposed to, say, the more useful Spanish or Mandarin? That is a question this map diplomatically declines to ask. Start reading >>

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Includes: Coca-Cola • Play-Doh • Slinky • Plastic

The phrase It was an accident is usually accompanied by scolding words and a sputtering apology. But as American wit Mark Twain wrote, “Name the greatest of all inventors: accident.” Mistakes often yield wonderful results—particularly in the science lab. Many useful or playful inventions came from experiments gone awry. Others were intended for very different purposes from those they came to serve. Penicillin, Coca-Cola, plastic, Play-Doh and Slinky all had accidental births. Start reading >>

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Includes: In Search of Memory • Giant Sea Slug • Marcel Proust • Speak, Memory

“Has it ever struck you,” playwright Tennessee Williams wrote, “that life is all memory, except for the one present moment that goes by you so quickly you hardly catch it going?” As if in counterpoint, Barbra Streisand has sung of memory’s “scattered pictures” in “The Way We Were,” wondering, “Has time rewritten every line?” Scientists, memoirists, novelists and filmmakers have all explored memory—the strange, intriguing shadow that twines so closely with who we are. Start reading >>

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Includes: Stephen Hawking • Salvador Dalí • The Clock • Time Travel

Time flies, but as we all know, it can also proceed at an excruciating crawl. Our subjective experiences of time find parallels in theoretical physics: Einstein’s special theory of relativity, presented in 1905, demonstrates that time indeed hurries up and slows down. But just how malleable is it? Can time travel backward? Writers and other artists have joined physicists in playing with time for centuries—and will likely continue until the clock runs out. Start reading >>

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Includes: The Green Fairy • Wormwood • The Absinthe Drip • Arthur Rimbaud

Belle Époque bacchants, including some of the late 19th century’s greatest artists and writers, dubbed absinthe the Green Fairy (la fée verte). Personified as a winged, emerald-skinned nude, the intensely herbal elixir was their muse—and sometimes a femme fatale. By 1914 absinthe was widely banned, but it has recently been legalized in Europe and the U.S., so it’s again easy to succumb to the Green Fairy’s temptations. If, that is, you dare. Start reading >>

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Includes: Pegasus • Trojan Horse • Mister Ed • Shadowfax

A horse is a horse, of course, of course. That is, of course, unless the horse has wings, or is half human, or has a horn sprouting from its head, or can, like the famous Mister Ed, speak English in a gruff cowboy drawl. Throughout history, humans have imagined horses with magical powers and conferred mystic meaning onto horses and outlandish horselike beings. Sometimes we even accord them the status of gods. Start reading >>

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Includes: Dawn Chorus • Candle Wasters • Four a.m. in Song • William Shakespeare

Hardly anyone, birds and workers on the graveyard shift aside, is awake at four in the morning, the silent, still time when dew descends and people slumber. With a nod to the poet-artist Rives, who woke us up to the four a.m. meme in his TED talk, we look at what stirs at this time—the broken hearts and sinister plots—and why, out of 24 hours in the day, this one is the darkest. Start reading >>

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Includes: Baroness Orczy • French Revolution • The Scarlet Pimpernel • Zorro

“We seek him here, we seek him there. / Those Frenchies seek him everywhere. / Is he in Heaven?—Is he in Hell? / That demmed, elusive Pimpernel?” With these immortal absurdities, foppish Sir Percy Blakeney generates some buzz for his heroic alter ego, the Scarlet Pimpernel. From films and comic books to musical theater and classic cartoons, today, fortunately, the Pimpernel can be found everywhere. Start reading >>

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Includes: The Remains of the Day • Carson • Gosford ParkThe Butler

The butler, that quintessentially British figure of impeccable dignity, is the mainstay of the country manor, keeping it running smoothly upstairs and down. Lee Daniels’s The Butler, which chronicles a White House employee’s career, revealed that Americans have been notable butlers, too. With his starchy propriety and reserve, the manservant has also been a favorite fictional character: His overstuffed decorum is easily lampooned, while his obligatory unobtrusiveness has made him a murder mystery cliché. Start reading >>

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Includes: Cave Paintings • Bayeux Tapestry • Rebuses • Stained Glass Windows

Early-20th-century newspaper editors first quantified the thousand-word ratio for a picture’s value, but people have been communicating visually for millennia. We’ve transmitted wordless narratives through media as diverse as cave painting, embroidery, stained glass, print and film. And the practice continues today with sharing sites like Pinterest, Instagram and Tumblr. But does the tradition prove a picture’s really worth a thousand words? That’s probably still a matter of preference. Start reading >>

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Includes: John Hancock • Jacob J. Lew • X • Autograph Hounds

An autograph feels like an intimate connection to a celebrity, and those who took care to make their mark in a unique way seem to have understood their signature’s importance to future generations. But as writing longhand seems to decline with each passing era, some worry that future communiqués will lack such personal feeling. This map shows that ours is hardly the first generation to struggle with signatures in an age of mechanical reproduction. Start reading >>

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Includes: “You blew it up!” • “Soylent Green is people!” • “You’re Tyler Durden” • “I am your father”

Moviegoers love a twist ending—a revelation that suddenly turns the plot upside down or that keeps us wondering long after the lights come up. How could he not know he was dead? So they’re the same guy? Those crackers are made of what? Here are some of cinema’s biggest surprises [spoilers ahead!] and why we love being shocked by them.

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Includes: Guillaume Apollinaire • André Breton • Cubism • Dada

In 1920s Paris a group of writers and painters invited chance into the creative process. They invented a parlor game in which each player supplies a line or word then hides it from the next player. The first session produced a poem containing the phrase “The exquisite corpse shall drink the new wine.” The exquisite corpse technique became imbedded in surrealism, a massively influential artistic movement of the early 20th century.

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Includes: Ecumenopolis • Behind the Beautiful Forevers • Chinese Urban Development • Environmental Degradation

As the world population grows, cities are getting ever bigger. The number of earth’s megacities—metropolitan areas with 10 million–plus people—stands at more than two dozen and promises to climb swiftly. Unrestricted growth of such conurbations intensifies all manner of urban ills—traffic, pollution, slums. Writers, filmmakers and visual artists have responded with dark speculation about the future of the city, while architects offer utopian promise in plans to fundamentally reshape human habitations.

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Includes: Poker Jargon • Mississippi Riverboats • Deadwood • Texas Hold ’Em

Rewarding ingenuity, luck and a good bluff, poker spread across 19th-century America via riverboats and railroads. Towns like Deadwood, in present-day South Dakota, attracted fortune seekers who, if they didn’t strike it rich sifting for gold, might land a jackpot at the poker table. Today we’re in the midst of another poker boom: The game is part of a robust online gambling industry, and televised tournaments have proven that high stakes translate to high ratings.

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Includes: Religious Celibacy • Celibacy • Sexual Fasts • Purity Rings

Celibacy is not for everyone, and that’s good news for the survival of the human species. But for some—who may be religious or just world-weary, and whose chastity may be a short- or long-term commitment—celibacy is a very desirable state. This map leads us from Saint Paul to purity balls to discover the appeal of abstinence.

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Includes: Alfred Butts • Lexiko • “The Gold-Bug” • Scrabble

Scrabble players who have suffered the 10-point burden of a Q without a U often hope to make the word qi, an alternate—and acceptable—spelling of chi. Those lucky enough to draw an I undoubtedly fill with that very “life energy.” Indeed, the world’s favorite crossword game seems to possess its own qi. Scrabble’s history—encompassing a down-on-his-luck inventor, a wartime cipher and cutthroat competitors—is, in a word, ineffable (17 points).

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Includes: Leonardo da Vinci • Sinistrality • Clumsiness • The Backward Child

We know a few things for certain about left-handers: They comprise around 10 percent of the world’s population, and more are male than female. Beyond the realm of fact, however, it gets more complicated. Left-handedness has historically and often for no good reason been perceived as a source, variously, of evil, clumsiness and genius. How have left-handers shaped culture, and how has culture defined left-handedness? This map charts the links between seven sinistral subjects.

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Includes: UnzippedReady to WearThe Devil Wears PradaZoolander

It stands to reason that the fashion world, arbiter of glamour and style, would be a pet subject among the fantasy factories of Hollywood. In fact, it’s a testament to the allure of fashion that movie spoofs—whether featuring doofy male supermodels or Cruella De Vil editors—are not nearly as riveting as real backstage looks at Valentino, Chanel and other larger-than-life but nonetheless flesh-and-blood figures who’ve set the standards of taste for generations.

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Includes: Krakatoa • Sonic Pavilion • Anechoic Chamber • Pisa Baptistery

Hearing is actually the perception of motion—typically pressure waves moving through air or water. When the Krakatoa volcano erupted and the transatlantic Concorde crossed the sound barrier, they caused tremendous sonic booms. Other sounds are buried deep in the earth or are muffled by the ocean’s depths. This map considers a few sonic marvels, from the Pisa baptistery’s long, sustaining echoes to Doug Aitken’s installations in which sound from unexpected sources floods our awareness. Start reading >>

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Includes: Cartoon Cats • Puss in Boots • Feral Cats • Cat People

The ancient Egyptians thought cats divine—and duly immortalized them as mummies. Hardly less worshipful, today’s cat fanciers post videos of their furry darlings’ misbehavior by the millions on YouTube. Throughout history, kitties real and fictional have made human beings growl with annoyance and purr with pleasure. Herewith, a few notes on the inexhaustible store of cat-themed entertainment. Start reading >>

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Includes: Dmitry Itskov’s Cyborgs • Ghost in the ShellThe Terminator • Cyberterrorism

Contemporary science fiction has consistently responded to real-world sociopolitical situations—McCarthy-era paranoia, nuclear brinkmanship, the rise of global terror—with varying flights of fancy. But the reverse is also happening: Reality is taking cues from science fiction. Cyborg enhancements, unmanned drone warfare and other developing technologies are seemingly inspired by such films as The Terminator and Ghost in the Shell—both of which coincidentally take place in the rapidly approaching year 2029. Start reading >>

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Includes: The 400 BlowsBreathlessHiroshima Mon AmourBonnie and Clyde

In the early 1950s, five cinema-starved French kids watched as many movies as they could—especially American films denied them during the Nazi occupation—and wrote about them in the influential film magazine Cahiers du Cinéma. They praised filmmakers they loved (Alfred Hitchcock) and pounded those they hated (practically everyone else). When the Cahiers quintet started making their own films, the New Wave was born, and in its wake cinema would never be the same. Start reading >>

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Includes: Ruth Nichols • Larry Doby • Sammy Sosa • Buzz Aldrin

History is what we make of it. And we like our history simple and bullet pointed. Pivotal events, defining moments and big, bold firsts—whatever fits easily on a plaque or in a textbook heading is fine with us. Sadly, our culture’s obsession with winners, founders, leaders and pioneers inherently ignores the small, quiet second placers who came close to immortality but, alas, fell just short of the elusive stogie. Start reading >>

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Includes: “American Pie” • Buddy Holly • “Three Stars” • “Not Fade Away”

February 3, 1959, was a rotten day for rock and roll. In the wee hours of that morning, a plane carrying three young pop stars crashed shortly after takeoff from an airfield in Iowa. Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper (along with the pilot) were killed—a tragedy memorialized in Don McLean’s ballad “American Pie.” Unfortunately, that day wouldn’t be the last on which the beat suddenly stopped. Start reading >>

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Includes: Ludwig van Beethoven • Friedrich Schiller • “Ode to Joy” • Immortal Beloved

Going deaf and hovering on the brink of poverty, Ludwig van Beethoven composed some of our most beloved music in his final years. In the superlative piano sequence “33 Variations,” for example, he plumbed the depths of human emotion. But Beethoven is perhaps best known for his Ninth Symphony and its finale, a choral rendering of Friedrich Schiller’s “Ode to Joy.” Beethoven’s transcendent music, brimming with passion and pathos, approaches the realm of the immortal. Start reading >>

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Includes: Dungeons • Prisons • Shackles • Swivel Manacles

A long chain of events binds the history of restraint and confinement, inextricably linking our sense of what’s humane, our language and even, occasionally, our sex lives. Unfettering our fears and liberating our fascination at the prospect of being bound, this map unlocks the coincidences and evolutions of handcuffs, shackles and prisons.

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Includes: The Ladies’ ParadiseSteal This Book • Winona Ryder • Saks Fifth Avenue

Kleptomania has always been for the relatively well-off; the poor merely steal. Although stealing for pleasure dates as far back as St. Augustine, who purloined pears simply for the thrill of it, shoplifting is essentially a middle-class activity. No wonder that in the 1970s, when members of the radical Youth International Party (the Yippies) extolled shoplifting as a way to shock the bourgeoisie, manifestos became best-sellers and even mainstream publications celebrated the five-finger discount. Start reading >>

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Includes: Summer of Sam • NYC Blackout • Dog Day Afternoon • Meatpacking District

New York City was a mess during the 1970s. Under Mayor Abe Beame’s inept watch, graffiti bloomed on subway trains, violent crime skyrocketed, and gangs ruled the burned-out Bronx. The city was near bankruptcy, and when austerity measures prompted a wildcat sanitation strike in 1975, the situation stank quite literally. But even as crisis followed crisis, the city was creatively ablaze. Its music, photography and films provide a useful lens for viewing this intense time.

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Includes: Regeneration Trilogy • Shell Shock • World War I Poets • Toby’s Room

World War I is the great obsession of British novelist Pat Barker (b. 1943)—and the lode she has mined for her best books, like the in-progress trilogy that continued, in 2012, with Toby’s Room. Through precise observation of the war-altered lives of her characters, who include historical figures, Barker masterfully conveys the conflict’s full magnitude. This map connects Barker’s books with other art arising from the ashes of “the war to end all wars.”

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Includes: Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting • Psychology of Denial • The Holocaust • Birthers

Shortly after 20 children and six adults were shot and killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, reports surfaced that the incident had “really” been a hoax staged to take away gun rights. Although immediate denial can be a natural response to a horrific event, sometimes denial is more opportunistic and contrived—born of paranoia and willful ignorance—and used to justify racism, anti-Semitism and partisan political views. Start reading >>

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Includes: An American Family • Kim Kardashian • The Truman ShowThe Bachelor

Something is not quite right about the “reality” on reality TV—while the genre is not exactly fictional, not many people live their lives exclusively on the Jersey Shore or put their romances in the hands of a production team. Increasingly, reality TV personalities, such as the Kardashians, the Osbournes, contestants on The Bachelor and the anxious warblers on various musical competitions, have taken their 15 minutes of fame and run with it. Start reading >>

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Includes: Thomas Robert Malthus • The Population Bomb • Animal Overpopulation • China’s One-Child Policy

The human population surpassed 7 billion in 2011—seven times the number at the turn of the 19th century, when Thomas Robert Malthus first explored the consequences of uncontrolled reproductive rates. But how many people are too many? As the global head count rises by more than two people per second, debate rages between neo-Malthusians, who contend that catastrophe is nigh, and those who argue, against received wisdom, that earth’s carrying capacity is potentially limitless. Start reading >>

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Includes: The Shawshank RedemptionEscape From AlcatrazThe Count of Monte Cristo • Storming of the Bastille

Escape artists work in stealth and cunning the way other artists work in acrylics or marble. Their utensils are rock hammers, lock picks, nail files, fake heads and hollowed-out Bibles. Their audience is stunned prison guards. You won’t find their work on exhibit: Given a wall at the Guggenheim, they’d just tunnel through it to 89th Street. This map looks at some legendary escapes, from the cells of Alcatraz to the plantation of Calvin Candie.

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Includes: Hairspray • Baltimore Accent • Row Houses • Edgar Allan Poe

“Good morning, Baltimore!” sings teenager Tracy Turnblad in the upbeat opening anthem of the musical Hairspray, based on director John Waters’s 1988 movie love letter to his hometown. But the relentlessly positive Hairspray glosses over some unhappy realities, substituting a brightly colored cartoon for a complicated city with a moody past and a troubled present. For a more nuanced view, you may want to watch The Wire. Start reading >>

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Includes: So You Think You Can Dance • Krumping • Capoeira • Stepping

In theaters of war large and small, combatants strive to outdo, conquer and destroy their opponents, and the victors are those with the greatest fortitude, skill or cleverness. Yet battling in the dance realm also demonstrates that success often depends on collaboration. This map reveals how connections with a partner, team members, an audience and even a cultural heritage can lead dance warriors to victory, whether in the ballroom or on the streets. Start reading >>

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Includes: Julia Child • The Galloping Gourmet • Anthony Bourdain • Rachael Ray

In the early days of TV cooking shows, hosts Julia Child and Graham Kerr were quirky and entertaining as they guided audiences through everyday mishaps (burnt poultry) and triumphs (fluffy soufflés). Chefdom today seems focused more on celebrity than cookery. While Rachael Ray’s cheesecake poses distract from her sloppy culinary technique and Anthony Bourdain chews into colleagues with as much relish as he does food, the heat seems to be everywhere but the kitchen. Start reading >>

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Includes: Stonewall Riots • Oscar Wilde • Alan Turing • Lawrence v. Texas

When Arizona nearly passed a law in 2014 granting businesses the right to refuse gay customers, the Jim Crow–style legislation was roundly condemned. But antigay laws have long existed in the U.S. and abroad. That’s why Gay Pride celebrations each June mark the anniversary of the Stonewall riots, when the LGBT community stood up to legalized persecution. The belief in equality for all continues to trump moralizing arguments relegating gays to second-class status.

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Includes: Paris Is Burning • Frank Ocean • Zebra Katz • Azealia Banks

Since it exploded out of the South Bronx some 40 years ago, hip-hop has embraced the provocative and the profane. These days the music is no less brash, but the genre is moving beyond its notorious misogyny and homophobia. Artists such as Frank Ocean, Zebra Katz and Azealia Banks bring a fresh perspective to the scene, as hip-hop and the nation at large invite more and more gay and bisexual voices into the mainstream. Start reading >>

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Includes: Socratic Irony • Parahippocampal Gyrus • Stephen Colbert • Sarcasm Detectors

Profound thinker Anonymous had apparently never encountered sarcasm when he or she said, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” Sarcasm is a potent oratorical weapon, brandished today by such wits as Stephen Colbert and entertainment juggernauts like The Simpsons. Some people don’t get the irony of sarcasm, prompting others to invent devices to detect it. But overall, sarcasm proves the pen is mightier than the sword. Yeah, right. Start reading >>

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Includes: “Play That Barber Shop Chord” • A Cappella • Doo-Wop • The Persuasions

The connection between music and hair often calls to mind the shaggy, guitar-toting hippies of the 1960s. But this bond began in distinctly un-hippie territory: the local barbershop, out of which eventually came straw-hatted, mustachioed a cappella quartets and the soulful harmonies of doo-wop. Into the barbershop went barbaric balladeer Sweeney Todd, who warbles as he slices his customers’ throats, as well as merry Figaro, who sings about the joys of cutting hair.

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Includes: Golden Age of Arcade Games • Space InvadersPac-Man FeverKing of Kong

Once a fixture of the American landscape, video game arcades have all but vanished, along with soda fountain counters, automats and video stores. But in a few sacred quarters, the golden age of arcade games lives on. The shiny plastic joysticks, flashing lights and familiar chirping sounds of Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, Space Invaders and dozens of other arcade classics are as alluring as ever and still beckon die-hard gamers to set new records. Start reading >>

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Includes: Pelé • Brazil • FIFA • Association Football

From June 12 to July 13 all eyes will be on Brazil, host of the 2014 World Cup, as the best players of the planet’s most popular sport compete in 64 matches. Even in the U.S.— one of the few places where the game we call soccer isn’t a national passion—Brazilian-born stars Neymar, Costa and Oscar may become household names, successors to Pelé, Brazil’s most famous son and the finest footballer who ever lived. Start reading >>

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Includes: Freemasonry • Grand Lodges • Solomon’s Temple • Euclid

Veiled in secrecy and steeped in ancient ritual, the Freemasons have been the subject of wild speculation since the brotherhood’s official founding in 1717. Members maintain they’re simply a fraternal order focused on socializing, self-improvement and promoting the public good, but this hasn’t stopped many observers from suspecting Masons of everything from devil worship to conspiracies of world domination. This map, an introduction to Freemasonry’s history and cultural alliances, pulls back the curtain. Start reading >>

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Includes: Sideways • Boeuf Bourguignon • Burgundy • California Pinot Noirs

Pinot noir, whose French name refers to its pinecone-shaped clusters as well as its distinctive dark color, is a notoriously troublesome grape, flourishing only in relatively cool climates such as those of Burgundy, Champagne and a scattering of other pockets around the world. Wine snobs have long exalted burgundies and champagnes, and now they’re learning not to turn up their cultivated noses at certain pinot noir–based wines made elsewhere. Start reading >>

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Includes: Nikola Tesla • Sustainability • EVs • Tesla Motors

It all began with Nikola Tesla, a prolific and eccentric Eastern European inventor who once transmitted electricity wirelessly for miles to power pastures planted with hundreds of lightbulbs. One of the many by-products of Tesla’s late-19th-century experiments shows up on today’s roads, where the electric vehicle (EV) is a small but growing presence and may well help save the planet. Start reading >>

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Includes: Edith Wharton • Henry James • The Age of InnocenceThe House of Mirth

In her fiction, Edith Wharton often employed Old New York—represented by 19th-century high society—as both a setting and a character (and an often despotic one). Born into that Gilded Age enclave, Wharton cast a satirical eye on its conservatism, while showing compassion for those who struggled to transcend its constraints. Wharton moved to Europe, but her Old New York novels remain penetrating portrayals of a very American time and place. Start reading >>

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Includes: George Lucas • Star Wars Fan Films • The People vs. George Lucas • “George Lucas in Love”

No corner of fandom is as well populated or vocal as that dedicated to George Lucas, whose devotees have spent the past few decades rewatching and even re-creating his films. For many, their childhood was synonymous with his Star Wars and Indiana Jones franchises, and when the latest installments went astray, fans did not hold their tongues. This CultureMap explores the tumultuous relationship between Lucas and the fan filmmakers who can’t help but love him. Start reading >>

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Includes: Evening Dress • Women in Slacks • Sunday Best • Men in Hats

Fashion and etiquette converge in sartorial rules, dictates about the appropriateness of attire for various social and seasonal situations. Emily Post addressed the importance of clothes and railed against the dangers of trends—“Rather be frumpy than vulgar!”—in her seminal 1922 book Etiquette in Society, in Business, in Politics and at Home. Post’s guide is a touchstone for our examination of dress codes and their evolution in the United States. Start reading >>

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Includes: Leopold and Loeb • Friedrich Nietzsche • “Trial of the Century” • Clarence Darrow

In 1924 two Chicago teenagers attempted the perfect crime. Influenced by the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche, Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb saw themselves as “supermen” and showed no remorse after they kidnapped and killed 14-year-old Bobby Franks. When Clarence Darrow was hired as the boys’ attorney, he gave an impassioned appeal for life imprisonment as opposed to the death penalty. But was this case, as the press described it, the “trial of the century”? Start reading >>

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Includes: Juan Ponce de León • Immortal Jellyfish • Peter PanThe Picture of Dorian Gray

People have long blundered after eternal youthfulness, inspired by vanity as well as timeless legends such as the Fountain of Youth, a spring that reputedly restores the vitality of anyone who bathes in it. But after centuries of fruitless searching, the only thing that hasn’t gotten old is the quest. Taking us under the surgeon’s knife and deep into the ocean, this map chronicles both our pursuit and the consequences of clinging to youth. Start reading >>

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Includes: Paramount Pictures • Robert Evans • Rosemary’s Baby • Mia Farrow

In 1956 screen legend Norma Shearer discovered Robert Evans poolside at the Beverly Hills Hotel. He was immediately cast as Shearer’s late husband, Irving Thalberg, MGM’s boy wonder studio head, in the film Man of a Thousand Faces. Ten years later Evans—the self-described “bad boy of Hollywood”—was himself head of Paramount Pictures. The first actor to run a major studio, he produced such classics as Love Story, Rosemary’s Baby, The Godfather and Chinatown.

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Includes: The Stork • Cabbage Patch Kids • Preformationism • Virgin Birth

Oh, c’mon…we all know where babies come from, right? Well, not exactly. Children have to be told, of course, and it is a centuries-old custom to mislead them. Plus, there are millions of religious people, in various traditions, who devoutly believe that there have been miraculous exceptions to the general biological rule. And assisted-reproduction techniques are nowadays offering newer challenges to the received wisdom about the birds and the bees.

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Includes: Mommie DearestMildred PierceThe Bad SeedThirteen

Happy Mother’s Day! For a break from idealized greeting-card depictions of the parent-child bond, this map explores some none-too-happy relationships between mothers and daughters in popular culture. From mid-century melodramas to tell-all memoirs, we present some ungrateful, nasty and murderous girls and a few mightily struggling mothers. Start reading >>

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Includes: Tünel • Pneumatic Subways • Lex Luthor • The Taking of Pelham 123

For New Yorkers in the 1970s, descending into the subway felt like entering a circle of hell. But the system cleaned up its act, proving that underground metros don’t have to be decrepit, defaced and dysfunctional. Through municipal art and even graffiti, some subterranean urban transit networks genuinely lift riders’ spirits as they’re shuttled from station to station. This map takes a tour of these underground marvels, even as they lay new track. Start reading >>

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Includes: Industrial Revolution • Periander • Subways • Bound for Glory

In a world that moves by car and jetliner, riding the rails can seem like a quaint anachronism. But the railroad is a cherished part of American culture, having inspired songs, films and even political campaigning. Trains have made our lives easier and shaped history ever since glittering tracks were laid across the landscape in the mid-19th century—and they’ve actually been around a lot longer than that. Start reading >>

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Includes: Lord Byron • Albania • The Byron Myth • Robert Southey

George Gordon, Lord Byron, was born with a clubfoot and a moody temperament. Byron’s barbed tongue, louche appearance and licentious cantos set the literary world on fire. But writing was never his greatest love. He preferred to venture far afield, by land and by sea, rather than sit at a writing desk. And everywhere he roamed—England, Albania, Greece—he left not only his twisted footprint but throngs of devoted admirers. Start reading >>

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Includes: Chandler’s Gimlet • Fleming’s Martini • Hemingway’s Mojito • Faulkner’s Mint Julep

For some of the 20th century’s most celebrated writers, booze was as important as ink. Or even more important: “Civilization begins with distillation,” said William Faulkner. So ingrained is liquor in these writers’ mythos that each is identified with a particular drink. Alcohol, some may say, helped fuel their greatness, but alcoholism also figured in each one’s decline and fall. Start reading >>

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Includes: LolitaPlayboyAda, or Ardor: A Family ChronicleSpeak, Memory

This map peeks into the curious and captivating mind of Russian-born American writer Vladimir Nabokov (1899–1977), who said that his renowned novel Lolita isn’t really about sex and that his memoir, Speak, Memory, may have an unreliable narrator. Through these and other works we look at his love of lepidoptery (the study of butterflies)—for which a New York Times headline dubbed him “Vlad the Impaler”—and the synesthesia that gave him “colored hearing.” Start reading >>

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Includes: Eminem • AdaptationThrow Momma From the Train • Psychic Masochism

Gustave Flaubert once griped to a friend, “You don’t know what it is to stay a whole day with your head in your hands, trying to squeeze your unfortunate brain so as to find a word.” Why do some writers labor for months over a sentence while others write at frantic paces? Is the cure for writer’s block found without or within? Sometimes, like a river, the words just flow. Other times, writers be dammed.

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Includes: Valentine’s Day • Red Letter Days • Pentecost • “Once in a Blue Moon”

Humankind holds a singular mania for timekeeping. To this end, moons are watched, bells toll and red letter days—or days of special significance—become tradition. A handful of holidays, such as Valentine’s Day, Good Friday and Pentecost, grew out of pagan roots and were transplanted to modern soil. The calendar of history, in fact, can start to look like one long run of red letter days.

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Includes: Greek Philosophers • Astronomy • Mariners • Ferdinand Magellan

The Greek mathematician Pythagoras hypothesized that Earth is a sphere, rather than a disk, in the sixth century B.C. Three centuries later, his compatriot, the astronomer and mathematician Eratosthenes, calculated our planet’s circumference using only sticks, shadows, pencil and paper. Photographs of Earth from space make the case watertight. Yet, flying in the face of NASA snapshots and millions of circumnavigations of the globe, defiant flat-earthers still claim devotion to the horizontal plane. Start reading >>

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Includes: The Little Prince • Near-Earth Objects • Dinosaur Extinction • Sodom and Gomorrah

Our solar system swirls with some 625,000 cataloged asteroids and comets, plus innumerable smaller rocks. And every once in a while a big one crashes to Earth. Arizona’s 3,900-foot-wide Meteor Crater was produced around 50,000 years ago by an iron-and-nickel chunk about 165 feet across. A similar disaster, science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke warned, “might not occur again for a thousand years—but it might occur tomorrow.” Start reading >>

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Includes: De CyproMetamorphosesPygmalionPretty Woman

Whether the raw material is a statue, a flower girl or a high school geek, or if the story is told in the poetry of Ovid or the songs of Lerner and Loewe, we love to witness a transformation. And the result is all the more satisfying when the changeling emerges as a fair lady. Start reading >>

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Includes: Mad MenThe Hucksters • Clark Gable • Grace Kelly

The hit AMC television series Mad Men has kindled renewed interest in the mores and styles of the 1960s (the show’s lush production design consistently gets Emmy nominations), as well as in the methods and, yes, madness of advertising. This map links Mad Men to a few of its inspirations, and explores some of the history of the industry that tells us what we want. Start reading >>

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Includes: Velvet Revolution • Les Misérables • Paris Cafés • Arab Spring

Take a major revolution—American, French, almost any one will do—trace back its development, and odds are you’ll find a café buzzing with intellectual conversation, free thought and political malcontent. From Europe’s Age of Enlightenment to the Arab Spring, global transformation has been launched from the coffeehouse, where revolution, it seems, is always brewing. Start reading >>

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Includes: Joe Paterno • Lance Armstrong • The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner • Achilles and Patroclus

Oh, how the mighty can fall. Modern societies, just like ancient cultures, need heroes. But those we elevate to heroic status—soldiers, sports figures, firefighters—don’t always merit the acclaim. Some heroes valiantly fall on the field of battle, but as scandals regularly demonstrate, there are many ways heroes can tumble from their high places, sometimes besmirching others’ reputations as well as their own. Start reading >>

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Includes: Boston Tea Party • Henry David Thoreau • Al Capone • “Death and Taxes”

Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court from 1902 to 1932, once said, “I like to pay taxes. With them, I buy civilization.” Not all of his fellow citizens have been as levelheaded about the subject. From tea-dumping colonists to high-living gangsters to presidential candidates, Americans have been decrying, evading, protesting and debating taxes since their nation’s dawning days—and they aren’t alone.

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Includes: Chuck E. Cheese’s • ShowBiz Pizza Place • Disneyland • The Muppets

For one glorious moment in the 1970s and ’80s, after the era of Walt Disney’s animated classics and before the unholy rise of computer-generated imaging in films and TV, puppets dominated American family entertainment. Call it the golden age of felt, led by Jim Henson’s Muppets and the wonders at Disneyland, when the animatronic house bands at Chuck E. Cheese’s and ShowBiz Pizza Place, the Rock-afire Explosion, fought for kids’ attention—and musical supremacy. Start reading >>

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Includes: The Pioneer WomanThe Butcher’s Guide to Well-Raised Meat • Urban Hipsterism • “The White Negro”

Trends come and go while people, especially young ones, continually quest for the next new thing. Lately, though, it seems every fad is old-timey, from hunting and butchering to canning and homeschooling to growing a bushy beard and plunking a banjo. Is the renewed pioneer spirit a passing fad of callow hipsters indulging in hillbilly chic, or is it a return to authenticity in an increasingly manufactured world? It’s probably a bit of both.

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Includes: Hermaphroditus • Middlesex • The Third Sex • Transgender Surgery

Gender defines us and at times defies us. Some people try to break free of gender stereotypes, while others enthusiastically embrace them. Some change their gender; others accept the gender identity they were born with, whether male, female or somewhere in between. One thing is certain: We all need to expand our understanding of this perhaps unexpectedly mystifying subject. Start reading >>

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Includes: Akira Kurosawa • Rashomon • Westerns • Film Noir

In movieland everyone simultaneously influences and is influenced by everyone else. Consider Akira Kurosawa. He loved Western literature and movie Westerns, adapting everything from Shakespeare’s high tragedy to Ed McBain’s pulp thrillers and John Ford’s frontier mythmaking. His own mastery of melodrama, action and wickedly black comedy profoundly affected directors around the globe. Now consider this list: Toshiro Mifune, Sergio Leone, George Lucas, Dashiell Hammett and Paul Newman. What connects them is Kurosawa. Start reading >>

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Includes: Richard Rodgers • Oscar Hammerstein • Stephen Sondheim • The King and I

After his parents split up, 10-year-old Stephen Sondheim and his mother, Foxy, moved to a farm in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, where the future composer found a surrogate father and mentor in legendary Broadway lyricist Oscar Hammerstein II. This map takes a look at the creative superstars surrounding Hammerstein and his protégé, who once enthused, “I wanted to be whatever Oscar was. I think if Oscar had been a geologist, I would have become one too.”

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Includes: Internet Trolls • Reddit • Violentacrez • Gawker

Following the advent of online chat rooms, forums and social media, a new species emerged: internet trolls. Despised by many, celebrated by a few, these provocateurs are known for anonymously harassing other users simply for the thrill of it—or, as they’d say, “for the lulz.” Various scandals have thrust these shadowy creatures into the limelight, prompting us to ponder what the phenomenon means for our behavior and ethics, online and off. Start reading >>

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Includes: James Naismith • Duck on a Rock • YMCA • 1936 Summer Olympics

As the winter months pass and the long NBA season marches on toward the spring playoffs, we’re continually awed by such phenoms as Kevin Durant and LeBron James. Amid all the excellence, however, it’s somehow comforting to learn that basketball as we know it began more than 100 years ago with a bunch of bored teens at a drafty YMCA. Basketball kept them well occupied and has been a slam dunk ever since. Start reading >>

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Includes: Ancestry • Mormonism • Twilight • Henry Louis Gates Jr.

Once akin to niche diversions such as macramé or stamp collecting, genealogy has become America’s fastest-growing hobby, second in popularity only to gardening. (It’s also the internet’s second most searched topic, after pornography.) For Mormons, ancestry is a mission to find more souls to convert. For African Americans, it’s a means of crafting an identity from a broken past. And for Twilight fans, it can even mean validating vampire Edward Cullen’s royal bloodlines. Start reading >>

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Includes: Exile on Main St.NebraskaFrom a Basement on the Hill • Lo-Fi

Bedroom producers, such as the Weeknd and Washed Out, do just that: make music in their bedrooms. But home recording is nothing new. Bruce Springsteen did it in the 1980s, Elliott Smith in the ’90s. Even the Rolling Stones got in on the action, making Exile on Main St. in a French basement (reserving the bedrooms for other activities). This map pricks up its ears to what’s going on behind closed doors. Start reading >>

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Includes: Phyllis Schlafly • “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All” • Hillary Rodham Clinton • Lean In

Does the glass ceiling—the invisible barrier that bars people from the top professional ranks—still apply to women? The End of Men author Hanna Rosin says no, arguing that as women now constitute the majority of college graduates, they have begun to dominate the professional and managerial levels. Yet women still hold only about 4 percent of Fortune 500 CEO positions, and in many fields the glass remains unshattered. Start reading >>

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Includes: Aaron Swartz • Open Access Movement • Anonymous • WikiLeaks

Internet capers in recent years have ranged from the fictional exploits of cyber-sleuth Lisbeth Salander in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo to the escapades of internet-freedom crusaders Anonymous and Aaron Swartz, whose suicide was a flashpoint in the short history of online vigilantism. In Swartz’s memory, “hacktivists” continue to challenge the boundaries of web access, asking what kind of information should be freely and openly available and whether providing it is a crime. Start reading >>

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Includes: Broadway • Branded Entertainment • Product Placement • Google

There’s nothing like a bit of brazen product placement to renew the age-old debate about the separation of art and commerce. A quick look back, however, reveals that brand partnerships are not such a recent innovation but in fact helped build the mediums of radio, television and film. Reese’s Pieces–eating extraterrestrials and Hennessey-swilling hip-hop artists may be the most recent manifestations of branded entertainment, but let’s not underestimate the ingenuity of marketing experts. Start reading >>

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Includes: Planned Parenthood • Conservative Politicians • Abortion Rights • What Do Women Want?

In the 1960s some Boston women met to talk about their bodies and ended up starting a movement to seize control of their health from the male medical establishment. More than 40 years after they published Our Bodies, Ourselves: A Book by and for Women, progress on reproductive and female-sexuality issues may be trending backward. “Conservative men in their 60s,” as comedian Stephen Colbert deadpanned, are “America’s foremost experts on young women’s reproductive health.”

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Includes: Exit Through the Gift Shop • Banksy • Shepard Fairey • Keith Haring

In recent decades street art—including graffiti, murals, sidewalk sculpture, and guerrilla printmaking and stencil work—has won the approval of the mainstream institutions it set out to defy. Museums pay top dollar for works by street artists such as Banksy and Shepard Fairey, an irony at the heart of the documentary Exit Through the Gift Shop. This map surveys the scene as well as its progenitors, New York artists Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat. Start reading >>

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Includes: Nicotine • Big Tobacco • Cigarette Ads • Silver-Screen Smokers

Poet Anne Sexton called cigarettes her “passionate habit.” She’s not the only smoker to have felt that way. Everyone everywhere must know now that cigarettes kill. And that still doesn’t stop one billion people, worldwide, from lighting up. How can that be? It’s easy to blame the tobacco companies’ deceptions and nicotine’s addictiveness. But part of the reason, certainly, is that it’s all too human to love—passionately—what you know is bad for you.
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Includes: Agamemnon • Oscar • Joan Rivers • Bette Davis

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has been handing out awards for 86 years now, but the Oscars ceremony continues a tradition millennia in the making. Long before Joan Rivers started heckling stars about their eveningwear, the modern movie awards were prefigured by the ancient Greeks, who were doling out drama trophies—and even deploying the red carpet—some 2,500 years ago. Start reading >>

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Includes: Denzel Washington • People’s “Sexiest Man Alive” • George Clooney • Magic Mike

The movies have always valued male as well as female beauty, but good film storytelling requires acting ability, not just great abs. This map tracks the careers of a few actors who successfully transitioned from eye candy to Oscar bait. Along the way, we’ll stare at the monochrome past, when beauty meant “white,” and ogle the more colorful present, when the “Sexiest Man Alive” can be anyone—as long as he’s a celebrity. Start reading >>

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Includes: Brooklyn Boheme • Harlem Renaissance • Spike Lee • Branford Marsalis

Nelson George and Diane Paragas’s documentary Brooklyn Boheme charts the stunning explosion of prominent black film, comedy and music in the adjoining Brooklyn neighborhoods of Fort Greene and Clinton Hill in the 1980s and ’90s. Through man-on-the-street interviews with such former residents as Spike Lee, Chris Rock and Talib Kweli, George creates an intimate portrait of an artistic community that permanently shaped American culture. Start reading >>

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Includes: Betty Boop • Hays Code • Red-Headed Woman • Three-Second Kissing

To calm concerns about loosening standards for sex and violence during the talkies’ formative years, censors Will Hays and Joseph Breen were hired to keep Hollywood on a tight leash. Although some directors found ways around the pair’s Motion Picture Production Code (a.k.a. the Hays Code), rebellious films such as Red-Headed Woman, Scarface and Freaks only strengthened censors’ resolve, and for decades the studios were on notice to steer around risqué and antisocial behavior.

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Includes: The Second Noble Truth • Subliminal Seduction • That Obscure Object of DesireThe Story of Adele H.

Is money really what makes the world go ’round? Or is it that special gravitation we call desire? Desire—whether for fortune, fame, possessions, beauty, sex and love, even the desire to conquer desire—is a powerful motivator. Religions have advised against and for desire, advertisers exploit it, and poets and pop balladeers sing its praises and rue its vicissitudes. We are pushed and pulled by desire’s demands—which can make them downright undesirable.

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Includes: Charlie Chaplin • Jackie Chan • Bruce Lee • Yuen Woo-ping

Slapstick comedians, rapid-fire tap dancers, daredevil magicians and martial artists with dazzling physical prowess have animated the silver screen since the advent of cinema. The truly distinguished virtuosos—from Charlie Chaplin and Fred Astaire to Jackie Chan—moved their bodies in ways that evoked universal feelings and expanded the storytelling powers of film. This map looks at movie icons who used their extraordinary physicality to elevate the everyday emotions, dreams and experiences of ordinary folk. Start reading >>

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Includes: “Better angels” • “Four score and seven years ago” • "Slipped the surly bonds of earth” • “Ask not what your country can do for you”

U.S. presidents talk a lot—at Rose Garden ceremonies, international summits, press conferences, prayer breakfasts and campaign fund-raisers, and in radio and video chats and addresses before Congress. They often say things that are, by virtue of the office they hold, consequential. Only rarely, however, have their utterances been truly memorable. This map looks at seven instances in which presidents rose to magisterial eloquence—and one in which a commander-in-chief stooped to demagogic warmongering. Start reading >>

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Includes: The Beatles • Satanism • Charles Manson • Rosemary’s Baby

The Beatles have always appealed to conspiracists. Their playful, obscure, often dark lyrics and intriguing album artwork invite a psychedelic spectrum of interpretations and theories: Paul is dead, John is the walrus, Paul is the walrus—who was the walrus? As John, Paul, George and Ringo evolved from mop-top innocents to hippies and spiritual seekers, those conspiracies culminated in the holy grail of Beatle mystique: the union of the Fab Four with the Evil One. Start reading >>

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Includes: Louise Brooks • Martha Graham • Betty Ford • Bloomer Girl

We’re familiar with the “Great Man” theory of history. Yet when extraordinary women make history, it is usually less about their personal power and more about inventive acts, playing roles or, perhaps most intriguing, creating characters. A woman’s catalyzing impact on our cultural landscape often involves her dramatic physicality, sexuality or fashion statements. This map looks at the accomplishments of rebellious women through connections to silent film icon Louise Brooks and modern dance genius Martha Graham. Start reading >>

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Includes: In Cold Blood • “The Mystery of Marie Rogêt” • “The Decay of Lying” • A Room of One’s Own

“There is no longer any such thing as fiction or nonfiction,” E.L. Doctorow once said. “There’s only narrative.” Doctorow has earned awards for his historical novels Ragtime, Billy Bathgate and The March, which combine fiction and nonfiction. But other writers who blur the lines between fantasy and reality, such as Truman Capote, James Frey and Augusten Burroughs, have not always fared so well. This map asks, how true does nonfiction have to be?

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Includes: Parthenon Marbles • Mona Lisa • The Nazis • Baghdad

The world’s art treasures have proved irresistible to marauders ever since antiquity, when intrepid grave robbers burrowed into royal tombs to loot jewels, statuary and, well, lutes. Whether they are motivated by greed, national pride or the sheer challenge of pulling off near-impossible heists, art thieves continue to thwart highly sophisticated security systems to perpetrate some of the more fascinating crimes of our time.

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Includes: 1936 Summer Games • 2008 Summer Games • 2014 Winter Games • 1968 Summer Games

The 2014 Winter Games, hosted by Sochi, Russia, became an ideological soapbox in mid-2013, when the Russian government outlawed “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations.” Would-be protesters were thwarted by arrest threats as well as the Olympic Charter, which forbids “demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda.” But the Olympics medal platform has often served as a political stage. Sochi wasn’t the first—and won’t be the last—international clash of protest, politics and sport. Start reading >>

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Includes: Captain Phillips12 Years a Slave • Mary Rowlandson • The Searchers

In the metrics of evil, holding an innocent person captive surely ranks just below murder. And when an imprisonment is protracted and brutal, being killed may seem preferable. The comfortably free are often enthralled by accounts of captivity—at least those that end in escape. For the prisoners who undergo such an ordeal, it’s a different story; their selves can become so obliterated, they actually begin to identify with their captors. Start reading >>

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Includes: The League • Fantasy Football • Tailgating • Wings & Beer

Baseball may own the title of America’s pastime, but football certainly owns the hearts of sports fans nationwide. Rough-and-tumble and aggressive, as well as complex and elegant, football has viewers hooked. Add munchies and beer and you’ve got a recipe for a ratings champion—and its accompanying astronomical advertising dollars. Whether cheering the home team or competing in a fantasy league, Americans are always ready for some football. Start reading >>

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Includes: Cookie Monster • Vito Corleone • Bob Dylan • Louis Armstrong

Must a voice be smooth to be appealing? Record sales prove that we easily fall under the spell of raspy growls and husky barks. A catch in the throat can reveal a poignant vulnerability, evoke smoky cocktail lounges of bygone times or cue us to a tough guy’s soft side. Rough voices can be edgy and gruff, but above all—even when they come from the mouths of Muppets—they are touchingly human.

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Includes: U.S. Postal Service • Benjamin Franklin • Email • Newman

The unofficial creed inscribed above the entrance to New York City’s main post office—“Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds”—derives from the Greek historian Herodotus, who described the postal riders of ancient Persia in similar terms. Civilization has always depended on messengers, a hardy, dedicated crew who mostly do their jobs well—though there have been a few miscreants. Start reading >>

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Includes: Ancient Rome • “Ozymandias” • Mock Ruins • Third Reich

Some say the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. But scattered, broken pieces can be infinitely more evocative, unnerving and beautiful than any whole. Ancient ruins have come a long way since medieval days, when they were junked for scrap marble. From garden ornaments and Romantic poetry to Freudian psychology and contemporary art, ruins have finally gotten their due as poignant metaphors for the human condition, creating conversations across millennia.

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Includes: George Balanchine • Mythical Males • Edward Villella • Arthur Mitchell

Revolutionary choreographer George Balanchine famously opined, “The ballet is a purely female thing. It is woman.” Yet he made profound ballets about mythical men: His protégés Arthur Mitchell and Edward Villella radically redrew the image of ballet-dancing males; by employing eccentric hoofer Ray Bolger, Balanchine elevated Broadway choreography. And with trailblazing modernist composer Igor Stravinsky, he enticed elephants to dance. This map traces the potent impact of Balanchine and his boys on dance in America. Start reading >>

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Includes: Nike Running Shoes • Eggo • American Diners • Belgium

Waffles are the cakes that have traveled the world. The griddled, lattice-stamped treats have trekked from Belgium to Canterbury to Seattle and been consumed in establishments ranging from the American diner to the American White House. They have inspired Nike athletic shoes and appeared in television sitcoms. Waffles are the breakfast of champions, presidents and even would-be seducers. Start reading >>

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Includes: Etienne de Silhouette • Lily Ladewig • Kara Walker • Joseph Cornell

Whether the medium is cutout paper silhouettes, intricately carved gems or well-honed language, rendering an image in profile epitomizes the credo Less is more. Those who master the art of profile, from ancient cameo cutters to contemporary artist Kara Walker and poet Lily Ladewig, leave us with images that, because of their artful lack of detail, are paradoxically rich in nuance. Start reading >>

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Includes: Lunar Astrology • Lunacy • Werewolves • Moonstruck

The moon is for lovers and loons. Astrologers track its movements. Werewolves sprout razor-sharp claws and ugly tufts of fur under the spell cast by its pockmarked face. Some claim the moon affects sanity and fertility—often on the same night. The moon is an ever-present symbol in myth, song, poetry and fiction. It seems people have always been over the moon over the moon. Start reading >>

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Includes: Bill Clinton • Larry Craig • Jim McGreevey • Eliot Spitzer

Men are skunks, and alpha males who attain high political office are sometimes the skunkiest of all. Whether the transgressors apologize, half-apologize or don’t apologize, their behavior stinks. As continuing revelations of politicians’ “indiscretions” remind us, infidelity may be the only truly bipartisan pursuit. It’s as good a time as any to look at a few of the recent smelly messes that elected leaders—Republican and Democrat, straight and gay—have made. Start reading >>

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Includes: René Descartes • Candles • Royal Seals • Skin

Think of wax and you’re likely to see the warm glow of a romantic dinner in a candlelit bistro. But it’s not all scented tapers and honeycombs. There could be a mummy buried under that wax! This map takes a blazing look at why wax was crucial to the French Revolution, royal forgeries, Descartes’s epiphanies, recorded music and hip-hop, dermaphiles and aestheticians, the madness of Vincent Price villains and, of course, ear candling. Start reading >>

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Includes: GM FuturamaBrazilThe Jetsons • Artificial Intelligence

The future has been coming at us a long time, and for at least two centuries there’s been endless speculation about what it will look like. But visionaries of the past have scored as many misses as hits. We landed on the moon, yes, but teleportation, for example, may never prove possible. In all likelihood, the world to come will be neither as rosy nor as dark as the scientists and sci-fi prophets have predicted.

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Includes: American Whiskey • Rye • The Sazerac Cocktail • Bourbon

It’s been a knock-down, drag-out bout. Among the world’s great whiskies, two contenders hail from the U.S.: bourbon and rye. For centuries rye was the champ, but Prohibition dealt it a hard blow, and for decades it appeared down for the count. That’s when bourbon claimed the title of the American whiskey. Recently, though, rye’s proved to be a “comeback kid,” and the brawl ain’t over yet. Here’s hoping it ends in a punch-drunk draw.

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Includes: Gender Stereotypes • Ken • Oreo Fun Barbie • “Barbie Girl”

Although Mattel claims it invented the Barbie doll so preteens could exercise their imagination, the toy company is often accused of discouraging girls from thinking beyond consumerism and regressive gender roles. The parade of Barbie accessories has been relentless—outfits, convertibles, pools, even a boyfriend, Ken. When critics and parents alike cottoned to the price tag attached to Barbie’s world, many of them asked, is life in plastic really all that fun? Start reading >>

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Includes: How the Grinch Stole Christmas! • Ebenezer Scrooge • Black Friday • Miracle on 34th Street

“The term grinchy shall apply when Christmas spirit is in short supply”—so says The Book of Who, a fictional tome featured in the Jim Carrey vehicle How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000). Since the modern holiday’s popular reinvention in the 19th century, the commercialization and secularization surrounding Christmas have steadily risen. But grinches, scrooges and assorted devilish figures have haunted winter festivities since their ancient pagan beginnings. Start reading >>

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Includes: Bushido • The Book of Five Rings • Ronin • Seven Samurai

Much as Tom Cruise did in The Last Samurai (2003), Keanu Reeves revives the American samurai in 47 Ronin (2013), a revamp of the revered Japanese legend about an honorable, devoted band of warriors. But how did samurai come to be? This map investigates Japan’s original tough guys in their noblest cinematic appearances, exploring their ferocious history, their famous swordplay and Bushido, the code that governed their life and death. Start reading >>

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Includes: Wall StreetThe Bonfire of the VanitiesThe Wolf of Wall Street • Leonardo DiCaprio

Animals occupy Wall Street. Bears claw at the stock market, sometimes ripping it to shreds. Bulls exuberantly charge, head-butting the economy forward and occasionally tossing it to dizzying heights. And then there are the wolves: traders who prey on unwary buyers or exploit regulatory weakness for their own illicit gain. They’re feared and despised, but they also fascinate, since their behavior so stunningly exemplifies capitalism’s canine-eat-canine savagery. Start reading >>

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Includes: Judd Apatow • Anchorman • Ben Stiller • Happy Madison Gang

The beer-soaked fraternity comedy Old School may have inaugurated the genre of man-child bromances, but Anchorman first united the “Frat Pack” under its presumptive leader, Judd Apatow, launching the filmmaker’s awesomely puerile career. The “Frat Packager” has since enjoyed a remarkable string of hits—a streak predicted to continue with Anchorman 2, in which most of the gang reprise their roles. Ladies and gentlemen, the Frat Pack is back! Start reading >>

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Includes: J.R.R. Tolkien • The Hobbit • World War I • Beowulf

Building on his success in adapting J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings for the big screen, New Zealand–based director Peter Jackson has turned Tolkien’s Hobbit—a slim fairy story—into a hefty trilogy of special effects–laden films. This map goes back to the source and looks at what influenced Tolkien as he created Middle-earth, a land that evokes northern European legends in which unlikely heroes struggle against great powers of evil. Start reading >>

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Includes: George W. Bush Administration • Saddam Hussein • Shock and Awe • The Surge

The Iraq War began when American- and British-led coalition forces invaded the country in March 2003 and officially ended in December 2011. Waged on false grounds, it was immensely costly in both lives—nearly 4,500 U.S. service personnel and at least 100,000 Iraqi civilians were killed—and treasure, with total U.S. costs estimated at upwards of $3 trillion. Ten years after the war’s start, we look back at some of its causes and events. Start reading >>

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Includes: P.L. Travers • Mary Poppins • Walt Disney • Saving Mr. Banks

P.L. Travers always denied creating Mary Poppins, claiming the British nursemaid had sought her out: “She just brushed past me and said, ‘You take it down.’” As the film Saving Mr. Banks reveals, studio mogul Walt Disney met a formidable opponent when he began negotiating film rights with the children’s novelist, accomplished journalist, poet, onetime erotica writer and lifelong spiritual seeker. Travers was as no-nonsense yet as mystical and elusive as her magical nanny.

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Includes: Smaug • Game of Thrones • “Puff, the Magic Dragon” • Saint George

Dragons—huge, winged, fire-spewing, thunder-voiced reptiles—have never actually existed, yet people all over the globe have independently dreamed them up. Did they get the idea from fossilized dinosaur bones? From run-ins with crocodiles? The bigger mystery may be why these fell creatures from ancient myth and medieval lore are more popular than ever. Today, there be dragons, fearsome or improbably cuddly, nearly everywhere you look. Start reading >>

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Includes: Native American Ghost Dance • Breaking • West Side Story • Elvis Presley

Dance can be defined as intentional patterned movement of the body, but the significance of dance often extends far beyond its formal characteristics. What happens when dancing becomes more than just rhythmic action and spatial design? When it enlarges into a political statement, an assertion of cultural identity, a spiritual experience, a form of storytelling, a competition, an aesthetic endeavor or a substitute for sex? This map explores the transcendent power of dance. Start reading >>

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Includes: Simon Doonan • Bergdorf Goodman • Walt Disney Company • Rockefeller Center

The Christmas season conjures visions of everything from snowmen to nutcrackers to chestnuts roasting over open fires. But city dwellers from New York to Tokyo can add the urbane pleasure of peering into opulently decorated shop windows. Beyond finding some holiday cheer, window gazers are likely to get a head-spinning glimpse at haute couture, a taste of the luxe life, a lesson in contemporary culture and a generous dose of razzle-dazzle. Start reading >>

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Includes: Napoleon’s Penis • Jacques-Louis David • Neoclassicism • The Italian Flag

To his admirers, French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte (1769–1821) was a hero espousing the radically egalitarian ideals of the French Revolution; to his detractors, he was an empire-building despot. Napoleon redrew the map of Europe, launched battles that cost millions of lives and changed European society forever. Little wonder this epic character was the favorite subject of the artists of his day, and he still inspires the creative spirit. Start reading >>

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Includes: Apartheid • “Free Nelson Mandela” • Robben Island • Fidel Castro

Nelson Mandela’s autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom, tells the story of South Africa’s courageous stand against the brutal oppression of apartheid (in Afrikaans, “the state of being apart”). But a long walk to freedom doesn’t stop with victory. As the activist icon writes in his conclusion, “I can rest only for a moment, for with freedom come responsibilities, and I dare not linger, for my long walk is not yet ended.”

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Includes: Harlem • Claude McKay • Langston Hughes • Their Eyes Were Watching God

The Harlem cultural renaissance of the 1920s and 1930s brought African Americans in New York City to the forefront of music, poetry and literature. This CultureMap celebrates their pride of race, place and creativity, a legacy today’s literary lights continue to push forward. Start reading >>

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Includes: Michael Pollan • Mark Bittman • Farmers Markets • Whole Foods Market

’Tis the season for green bean casserole, marshmallow-topped sweet potatoes, pumpkin pie and heaps of food-related guilt—which makes it the perfect occasion to reevaluate where we buy food, whether in big-box stores or at local farm stands. This Thanksgiving, save a place for advocates of thoughtful eating, like Michael Pollan, Mark Bittman and the Food52 recipe bloggers, and learn to make smarter, greener, healthier and tastier choices. Consider it an early New Year’s resolution! Start reading >>

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Includes: 11/22/63JFK • The Warren Commission • The Parallax View

The November 22, 1963, assassination of President John F. Kennedy mystified and disillusioned his country, and the tragedy raised more doubts than its official investigation could, for many, competently assuage. While nonfiction explorations of the murder are countless, its controversies have also inspired numerous popular novels and films, from Stephen King’s 11/22/63 and Don DeLillo’s Libra to Oliver Stone’s JFK and Alan J. Pakula’s Parallax View, each trying to display a facet of the “truth.” Start reading >>

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Includes: Sherlock Holmes • The Doctor • The Doctor’s Companions • TARDIS

The Doctor of TV’s Doctor Who travels through time and space, rescuing the distressed. Every few years he regenerates into a new body: Eleven actors, starting with William Hartnell in 1963, have played the role, and Peter Capaldi is slated to be number 12. Even the program itself was canceled, in 1989, and resurrected 16 years later. This map shows why fans have spent 50 years following this mysterious character across the universe. Start reading >>

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Includes: Funny Girl • Zooey Deschanel • The Mary Tyler Moore Show30 Rock

Funny girls have been making audiences laugh since long before Fanny Brice had radio audiences in stitches back in the 1930s. Everyone still loves madcap TV pioneer Lucille Ball, and Mary Tyler Moore and all four Golden Girls cracked us up while breaking down social barriers in the 1970s and ’80s. Today’s funny women—such as Tina Fey and Mindy Kaling—are not only comedians but entertainment-world powerhouses creating top-rated TV shows and films.

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Includes: Gamay • Georges Duboeuf • Vin de Merde • Thanksgiving

Sadly, the marketeers of Beaujolais nouveau no longer use the phrase Le Beaujolais nouveau est arrivé! (“The new Beaujolais has arrived!”) to trumpet its late-November appearance in wine shops. That slogan, dropped in 2005, stoked unreasonable enthusiasm for a purply-red, ultra-young wine that at its best is enjoyably tasty but at its worst—which happens depressingly often—is plonk. Start reading >>

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Includes: George H.W. Bush • ObamaCare • Broccoli Television • “Choppin’ Broccoli”

Roman emperor Tiberius had no trouble getting his son to eat broccoli: The young Drusus Julius Caesar (no relation to that emperor or to that salad) allegedly had such a broccoli hankering that for a whole month he ate little else. The same cannot be said for children today—or for some U.S. presidents, one of whom would be damned if anyone tried to make him eat his broccoli. Start reading >>

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Includes: Richard Nixon • All the President’s Men • John Dean • Deep Throat

After midnight on June 17, 1972, five men broke into Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate apartment complex in Washington, D.C. Discovered by a security guard, the men were arrested, tripping the most massive scandal ever to engulf the White House—a “cancer on the presidency,” in the words of presidential counsel John Dean. The Watergate affair led to the resignation of President Nixon on August 8, 1974, a unique event in American history. Start reading >>

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Includes: Superman • Krypton • World War II • Avengers

Born on a distant alien planet. Bitten by a radioactive spider. A product of government experimentation. Comic-book heroes rival one another for the most outlandish source of superpowers, but their creation myths often reflect the social anxieties of the eras that spawned them. This map investigates a few famous superheroes and how their origin stories reveal the evolving moods of the 20th century. Start reading >>

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Includes: The Diary of a Young GirlMausNight and Fog • Primo Levi

Soon after Anne Frank’s father, Otto, bought her a diary for her 13th birthday, her family—German Jews living in Amsterdam—went into hiding to avoid deportation by the Nazis. For the next two years, until their discovery and arrest in August 1944, Anne assiduously recorded their life in the Secret Annex, a small suite of rooms concealed behind Otto’s former place of business. Anne did not survive the war, but, miraculously, her diary did. Start reading >>

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Includes: End-Time • Götterdämmerung • 2012 • Heaven’s Gate

Time, some philosophers say, is finite. But—if you are reading this—the world has not yet ended, despite many claims that it would. The certainty that apocalypse is just around the corner springs eternal, perhaps because doomsday promises to be so entertaining, should one survive it or at least witness some of the fireworks. This map looks at a few failed predictions and explains why the idea of an end-time nevertheless remains perennially popular. Start reading >>

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Includes: Boss Tweed • Dick Murphy • Mayoral Politicking • Richard J. Daley

When his neck bent under the strain of leading the nation, President Lyndon B. Johnson told himself, “It could be worse. I could be mayor.” Managing an unwieldy city is no small task, and avoiding the temptations of mayoral corruption proves impossible for some. Considering the dubious reputations of politicians from Boss Tweed to Richard J. Daley, one may ask, who would want that responsibility? Aside from whack-jobs like Anthony Weiner, that is. Start reading >>

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Includes: The New York Times Cook Book • M.F.K. Fisher • James Beard • Mastering the Art of French Cooking

America’s mid-20th-century gastronomic revolution is usually attributed to James Beard, Julia Child and Craig Claiborne. Following in the footsteps of food writers M.F.K. Fisher and Alice B. Toklas, these remarkable characters introduced recipes designed to entice Americans to embrace cooking as an opportunity for sensual and creative expression. Peg Bracken’s I Hate to Cook Book led a backlash to the gourmet movement, while Edna Lewis proved American home cooking was plenty delectable all along. Start reading >>

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Includes: Cat PeopleNight of the Living DeadThe Texas Chain Saw MassacreHalloween

Some of the most iconic horror films have been made on what are, by Hollywood standards, shoestring budgets. The movies may be cheap, but the thrills aren’t. This map explores the connections among six influential—and highly profitable—low-budget horror movies. Start reading >>

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Includes: Poltergeist • Dominique Dunne • Dominick Dunne • A Season in Purgatory

When addiction ended Dominick Dunne’s marriage and career as a prominent Hollywood producer, he thought he had hit rock bottom. But as Dunne struggled to rebuild his life, his only daughter, Dominique, was strangled to death by her ex-boyfriend. Dunne channeled his outrage over the killer’s lenient sentence into a new career as an investigative journalist. With each high-profile murder trial he covered for Vanity Fair, Dunne made sure the victim was never forgotten. Start reading >>

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Includes: H.P. Lovecraft • “The Call of Cthulhu” • Providence, Rhode Island • Weird Tales

Perhaps no 20th-century horror writer has had greater impact than H.P. Lovecraft, a pioneer of the genre during the golden age of pulp magazines in the 1920s and ’30s. Though typically reclusive, Lovecraft maintained a broad creative circle through his voluminous correspondence, influencing many important fantasy, horror and sci-fi writers from his time through the present day. This map unearths the curious details of his life and the long-reaching legacy of his tales. Start reading >>

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Includes: Sylvia Plath • The Bell Jar • Olive Higgins Prouty • Bette Davis

Today novelist and poet Olive Higgins Prouty is known mainly for her novels Stella Dallas and Now, Voyager, when she is remembered at all. But Prouty also had a profound impact on the career of acclaimed poet Sylvia Plath: Prouty endowed Plath’s scholarship for “promising young writers” at Smith College and also paid for Plath’s psychiatric treatment after a suicide attempt. Plath “repaid” her with targeted satire in her best-selling novel The Bell Jar. Start reading >>

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Includes: The Autobiography of Alice B. ToklasA Moveable Feast • Pascin • Midnight in Paris

“You are all a lost generation,” Gertrude Stein said to Ernest Hemingway, who used the quote as an epigraph for his first novel, The Sun Also Rises (1926). Stein was chastising Hemingway and his peers for their drinking, but the phrase lost generation became a label for the literary and visual artists who gathered in Paris between the world wars—many of whom passed through the home Stein shared with her companion, Alice B. Toklas. Start reading >>

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Includes: The Nutcracker • Lab Rats • RatatouilleThe Secret of NIMH

Rats are polarizing creatures. They’re both beauty and beast: the cute, philosophical animated rodents of Ratatouille and The Secret of NIMH, plus the murderous swarms from Willard. They’re sacred animals in the Karni Mata temple and the Chinese zodiac, as well as instruments of torture and manifestations of horror—not to mention vehicles for bubonic plague. In other words, rats are more resourceful than you may think. Start reading >>

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Includes: The Creature • Victor Frankenstein • Mary Shelley • The Golem

In the nearly 200 years since he first entered our cultural lexicon, the Creature from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein has taken on a life of his own, devolving from a speaking, deeply feeling being to a mute, green-skinned serial murderer. Meanwhile, his creator, Victor Frankenstein, has remained the archetypal mad scientist. This map traces their intersecting paths and reveals some of their fabled and real-life forebears. Start reading >>

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Includes: Medea • “Snow White” • Lucrezia Borgia • Sad Cypress

Whether they do it for love or money—or the juicier motive of revenge—beautiful women who administer deadly doses of poison are fascinating, and they’ve been storytelling mainstays since Euripides wrote Medea, around 430 B.C. This map highlights some lovely examples of a dangerous tradition, with toxic beauties from myth, history, fairytales, literature and mysteries. Start reading >>

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Includes: Rosicrucianism • Edward Bulwer-Lytton • Adolf Hitler • Snoopy

We all hope to leave something behind after our death—a legacy, a small compensation for our mortality. But legacies are often beyond our control, particularly artistic legacies, which can take unexpected directions. Did popular Victorian novelist Edward Bulwer-Lytton, composer of the classically bad opener “It was a dark and stormy night,” expect to become linked to cartoon dogs, cocktails, strange cults and a genocidal dictator? Probably not. This map shows how it happened. Start reading >>

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Includes: Daedalus • The Zeppelin • Asbestos • The Segway

For every lightbulb and automobile there’s an invention so bizarre, it has immediately gone down the tank. This includes actual tanks: During the first half of the 20th century, both flying tanks and tanks with a single wheel fell quietly into the annals of failed military history. But some inventions have crashed and burned in the unforgiving light of day. Zeppelins, New Coke and Segways all plummeted right before our eyes—sometimes literally.

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Includes: Eartha Kitt • Becky Sharp • Eva Perón • Lindsay Lohan

“Why are you such a megabitch?” “Because I can be.” The dialogue is from the 1988 film Heathers, but the answer could have been spoken by any mean girl from Medea on. These evil queens, super-rich bitches, social-climbing she-wolves and blond-haired bullies mesmerize as they seize the reins and crack the master’s whip. Their dominion, however, is usually temporary; in the stories told about mean girls, they almost always get their comeuppance. Start reading >>

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Includes: Plato • Shadow Puppetry • Nosferatu • Shadow Superstition

“Life’s but a walking shadow,” as William Shakespeare puts it in Macbeth, yet shadows have often assumed a life of their own and walked in unexpected directions. Sometimes it’s hard to see, in the half-light, if we control our shadow or if the shadow controls us. Shadows both enslave and entertain—from Jung to Plato, and from Peter Pan to film noir—and they can harbor ill will while disguising the demons of the night. Start reading >>

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Includes: The Crusades • The Knights Templar • Banking • Freemasons

The legends surrounding the Knights Templar are many and ever-changing. In the popular imagination (and the Catholic Church’s), they went from Crusader heroes to perverted idolaters. They established banks, only to lose all their money. They are villains in Sir Walter Scott’s Ivanhoe and mysterious agents in Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code. Did they found Freemasonry? Did they worship a severed head? This map explores some unanswerable questions. Start reading >>

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Includes: Piltdown Man • P.T. Barnum • Frank Abagnale • The Blair Witch Project

Hoaxers count on everyone else being a bunch of credulous fools, ready to accept as true whatever nonsense is set before them—especially if it confirms preexisting prejudices. The internet age is rife with hoaxes, but throughout history human beings have been just as naive as we are now, permitting schemers to lighten our wallets or, worse, rob us of our good judgment. Start reading >>

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Includes: Edward J. Snowden • National Security Agency • Enemy of the State • WikiLeaks

Under Barack Obama’s presidency, the Department of Justice has prosecuted seven cases against those who’ve leaked sensitive information—more than all previous administrations combined. Computer specialist Edward J. Snowden exposed various clandestine operations of the National Security Agency to show us just how insecure our online lives are. Meanwhile, Julian Assange has become an international celebrity for leaking government cables and videos of military mismanagement. Are they enemies of the state or conscientious informers? Start reading >>

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Includes: New York Knickerbockers • Abner Doubleday • Rounders • The U.S. Civil War

Baseball was born in New York City and from the start was a gritty, tough-talking, tobacco-spitting urban game, not the polite pastoral recreation historians often claim. Nor was it conceived in a flash of ingenuity by a Civil War hero named Abner Doubleday. America’s pastime actually evolved from various European bat-and-ball contests, but admitting this may run you afoul of red-blooded Americans. Woe unto the umpire who doesn’t call it for the home team. Start reading >>

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Includes: The Black Death • The Seventh Seal • The Spanish Flu • Marco Polo

The Black Death, a pandemic of bubonic plague, wiped out a good portion of the earth’s population, devastating Europe in the 14th century. Six centuries later the Spanish flu contagion joined the Black Death among the deadliest natural disasters to befall humankind. The virulence of these two global scourges changed the course of history and leaves us wondering what other epidemics may lie in our future. Start reading >>

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Includes: Orpheus and Eurydice • Sonnets to Orpheus • Jean Cocteau • Tennessee Williams

In Greek mythology, Orpheus wears many masks. This half-human, half-divine mortal is a poet, singer and musician—his instrument, the lyre—as well as a magician, founder of mystery cults, healer and grief-stricken spouse, who dares follow his dead young wife, Eurydice, into the underworld, hell-bent on reclaiming her. Writers, composers, choreographers and other artists have long found inspiration in ancient accounts of him—a tradition that thrives in the modern era. Start reading >>

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Includes: Freaks • Made Freaks • Frank Zappa • Freaks and Geeks

The word freak has several connotations but almost always indicates someone or something outside the norm. Human oddities have long been put on exhibition in carnivals and sideshows, and these days they turn up on reality TV programs. Frank Zappa extolled freak counterculture, high schoolers appropriated the term as a label for druggies and weirdos, and dancers have been urged to shed their inhibitions and “freak out” at the disco. Start reading >>

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Includes: Appalachian Highlands • Blue Ridge Mountains • Autumn Leaves • Fall Harvest

The Appalachian Highlands encompass a forested chain of mountains paralleling the Eastern Seaboard between southeastern Canada and northern Georgia and Alabama. Every September and October, as the ridge’s trees display their autumn radiance, leaf peepers flock to these slopes, especially in New England. But in this map we look southward, to the Shenandoah Valley, the Great Smoky Mountains and the region surrounding the Blue Ridge, where nature provides extraordinary experiences under the harvest moon. Start reading >>

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Includes: Frank Lloyd Wright • Robie House • Imperial Hotel • Hollyhock House

Frank Lloyd Wright was not only one of the greatest American architects, he was one of the most creative innovators of the 20th century. This CultureMap spotlights five of his most influential structures and a few of his many groundbreaking approaches and techniques—as well as his downright juicy personal life. Most of all, though, we salute his transcendent designs, which revolutionized the way people think about buildings and move through interiors. Start reading >>

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Includes: CatfishCatfish: The TV Show • Manti Te’o Hoax • lonelygirl15

Catfishing (per Urban Dictionary): “the phenomenon of internet predators who fabricate online identities and social circles to trick people into emotional/romantic relationships.” The term was coined in the documentary film Catfish, in which a protagonist’s father explains how cod, when shipped internationally, are placed in vats with nipping catfish to keep the cod lively; he compares the catfish to people who “keep you guessing.” This map highlights some notable catfishers and their catchers.

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Includes: Apple Inc. • Red Delicious • Johnny Appleseed • Forbidden Fruit

Symbolically, apples slice both ways. An apple a day keeps the doctor away, but one that goes rotten can spoil the whole barrel. Kids who bob for apples at Halloween parties are warned not to accept them while trick-or-treating lest razor blades lurk inside. Even apple picking, that evocation of harvest-time fun, now connotes the snatching of iPhones and other desirable Apple devices. When it comes to apples, we take the good with the bad. Start reading >>

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Includes: Rembrandt van Rijn • Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio • Tenebrism • Barry Lyndon

Saints and sinners inspire the imagination, especially when they are vividly brought to life by such painters as Caravaggio and Rembrandt and the modern filmmakers and photographers they have influenced. Whether rendered in a painting or captured through a lens, the worlds these artists create with carefully juxtaposed light and shadow can reveal truths, drama and no end of beauty. Start reading >>

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Includes: Basil Rathbone • The Great Mouse Detective • Robert Downey Jr. • Jeremy Brett

Fans have tagged along after iconic detective Sherlock Holmes for 125 years, since he debuted in A Study in Scarlet. With his matchless intellect and razor-sharp observational powers, he can be annoyingly superior, antisocial and even self-destructive. Yet the character charms us, whether he stalks Victorian London or the modern capital, smokes his pipe quietly or kickboxes, or is transformed into a Nazi hunter or a mouse. Start reading >>

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Includes: Ellen DeGeneres • Will & Grace • Anderson Cooper • Modern Family

You would never guess when tuning in to Glee or Modern Family that not long ago TV was a straights-only club. That started to change in 1993 when gay characters burst onto the screen with a bang (well, a kiss) in Tales of the City. Since then we’ve followed gay characters, trusted the reporting of gay newscasters and enjoyed the banter of gay talk-show hosts. Start reading >>

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Includes: Moose MurdersThe ProducersCarrie: The MusicalThe Best Little Whorehouse Goes Public

There’s no scarier stage mother than Broadway herself. With Medea-like abandon, she slaughters her just-born offspring. Granted, some of the little buggers merit premature dispatch. Looking back on Moose Murders and Carrie: The Musical, we have to ask: What were the producers thinking? This map pokes wicked fun at some of Broadway’s catastrophes—with an aside on Mel Brooks’s Producers, which so brilliantly satirized the conception, gestation and birth of a Broadway bomb. Start reading >>

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Includes: The Great Gatsby (1974) • Eight Men OutThe Great Gatsby (2013) • The Aviator

The Great Gatsby ranks on the short list of books (including Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Moby-Dick) that exemplify the Great American Novel. Why? It captures the 1920s zeitgeist while telling the timeless story of an individual confronting the ultimate emptiness of the American dream. Gatsby has inspired numerous film and stage interpretations, very few as memorable as the novel. Doing justice to Gatsby is nearly as elusive as the American dream itself.

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Includes: Glass • Ice • Vodka • Philip Johnson’s Glass House

The meaning of transparency isn’t always transparent. Is vodka “pure” just because you can see through it? Is Saran Wrap sexy? Can people who live in glass houses get away with throwing stones? And what about Cinderella’s slipper—innocent footwear or fetish object? This map shines a light on clarity and finds it can be a very murky matter indeed. Start reading >>

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Includes: James Cameron • Cryptomnesia • Joke Thievery • Jonah Lehrer

All ideas are secondhand. Some appropriations of intellectual property fall into a gray area, but blatant plagiarism, word-for-word, note-for-note forgery, is clear. And the names of some perpetrators—James Cameron, George Harrison, Robin Williams—are surprisingly familiar. Plagiarism seems to be everywhere. Even this paragraph’s first sentence plagiarizes Mark Twain. Start reading >>

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Includes: Moby-DickJaws • Mermaids • Giant Squid

Spouting, snorting and snapping, the giant sea creatures we call leviathans have fascinated landlubbers since the biblical whale swallowed Jonah, and the myth-making Greeks gave them starring roles. They terrify us and in some cases beguile us, but we can’t get enough. No one worries too much about Homer’s Scylla and Charybdis these days; instead we set our sights on Nessie, great white sharks and a bona fide sea monster, the giant squid. Start reading >>

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Includes: Playboy • Bob Guccione • PlaygirlScrew

Porn: It’s as American as unwed moms and fast-food apple pie. Although most self-abusers now seek release online, it was skin mags like Playboy, Penthouse, Hustler and Screw that turned spanking the monkey into a national pastime. This map takes a full-frontal peek at the original porn moguls, the fortunes they made (and sometimes lost) and the sticky situations they occasionally got themselves into. Start reading >>

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Includes: The Asphalt JungleRififiOcean’s ElevenTopkapi

Considering America’s idolatry of maverick independence, it’s no wonder Hollywood movies usually focus on the lone hero. Yet the beloved genre of heist films offers a distinctive contrast, celebrating the group and the ensemble cast. Today we primarily think of them as comedies, expecting the crooks to triumph. But heist films initially emerged from the shadows of noir, and for two decades censorship stymied the thieves. Start reading >>

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Includes: Twilight • The Dead Un-Dead • All’s Well That Ends Well • He Do the Police in Different Voices

Behind every work of art is a crumpled paper trail of terrible false starts, dead ends and rejected discarded drafts intended for the wastebasket. Working titles in particular reveal what an artist originally thought of his or her creation before it ever saw the light of day. This map retrieves some of these titles and compares the influences and crafts of those who chucked them in the first place. Start reading >>

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Includes: Malcolm Gladwell • Outliers: The Story of Success • K. Anders Ericsson • Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother

Swedish psychologist K. Anders Ericsson observed that it takes approximately 10,000 hours (10 years) of practice to reach the highest echelons of expertise. In Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell examines this “10,000-hour rule” and looks at the other ingredients one needs to become a virtuoso in a chosen field. Yale University professor Amy Chua recounts in her memoir about her parenting techniques, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, a practice regimen with a similar time investment. Start reading >>

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Includes: Christian Dior • Richard Avedon • Yves Saint Laurent • John Galliano

The French have been fashion plates since Marie Antoinette kept her dressmakers working around the clock in the 18th century. Designer Christian Dior continued this devotion in the 20th, with the romantic, feminine haute couture he called the New Look. In his wake came such luminaries as Yves Saint Laurent and John Galliano, each bringing his new look to the House of Dior and mesmerizing style mavens with the highs—and lows—haute can hit. Start reading >>

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Includes: Look Homeward, AngelMemorial • Maya Lin • War Memorials

In death, we are not all equal. Some of us take our final rest in lavish tombs, while others end up in unmarked graves. But almost everyone wants to be remembered and to memorialize those we have lost. That’s why the sculptors and architects who create funerary art and memorials—everyone from celebrated artist Maya Lin to the fictional paterfamilias in Thomas Wolfe’s novel Look Homeward, Angel—belong to one of humanity’s most enduring professions. Start reading >>

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Includes: Sex and the City • Sarah Jessica Parker • Eric Daman • Manolo Blahnik

In the 20th century, television wardrobes established character, from the fashionable 1950s frocks on I Love Lucy through the big-shouldered suits of 1980s nighttime soap Dynasty to the miniskirts and heels of Ally McBeal (1997–2002). Then came Sex and the City. Its characters model haute couture, name-drop designers and tout Vogue magazine. The show’s success, and that of Project Runway and Gossip Girl, marked TV fashion’s shift from story line accessory to leading role. Start reading >>

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Includes: Truman Capote • The Party of the Century • Answered Prayers • Slim Keith

Author Truman Capote once said, “All literature is gossip.” No wonder he cultivated the friendship of several women at the center of New York’s high society in the 1950s and ’60s: Marella Agnelli, Gloria Guinness, C.Z. Guest, Pamela Harriman, Babe Paley, Slim Keith and Lee Radziwill. But when Capote turned their gossip and secrets into literature in his last novel, Answered Prayers, these “swans” abandoned their former confidant, condemning Capote to social exile. Start reading >>

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Includes: Coco Chanel • The Tweed Suit • The Little Black Dress • Chanel No. 5

From the groundbreaking designs of founder Coco Chanel to the more recent innovations of her successor as head designer, Karl Lagerfeld, the house of Chanel has produced some of the most iconic and coveted looks the fashion world has championed over the past century. Quite simply, more than any other designer, Coco Chanel changed the way women dress—for the better. This map celebrates five of her signature creations. Start reading >>

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Includes: To Kill a MockingbirdAnatomy of a MurderA Time to KillLaw & Order

The American Film Institute and the American Bar Association have each called Robert Mulligan’s film adaptation of Harper Lee’s novel To Kill a Mockingbird the best trial movie ever made. Its courtroom scenes and the character of defense attorney Atticus Finch, played with both tenderness and ferocity by Gregory Peck, have cast a long shadow on American cinema and television. This map cross-examines some of the film’s closest relations.

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Includes: To Kill a Mockingbird • Jim Crow Era • Brown v. Board of Education • Willie McGee

Harper Lee’s novel To Kill a Mockingbird, published in 1960 when the civil rights movement was making inroads into the American consciousness, is set in the South in the 1930s, at the height of the racially discriminatory Jim Crow era. Though some critics have questioned Lee’s skills as a writer, decried the novel’s sentimentality and challenged its racial attitudes, there’s no denying her book’s enduring cultural importance. Start reading >>

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Includes: To Kill a Mockingbird • Harper Lee • Adventures of Huckleberry Finn • Truman Capote

Often cited as the second most influential book in the lives of American readers (the Bible being the first), To Kill a Mockingbird is also one of the most frequently assigned texts in U.S. classrooms. Loosely based on author Harper Lee’s small-town childhood, the novel has courted controversy for its treatment of race and for Lee’s status as a one-hit wonder. This map takes a look at Mockingbird’s origins and its place in the canon. Start reading >>

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Includes: Red-Light District • Lipstick • Blood • The Red and the Black

Red is the color of blood, lipstick, Mao Tse-tung’s book of communist aphorisms and the lights in the districts where prostitutes walk the streets. It is the color of fear, as borne out by Italian horror films and by the red alerts and Red Scares of the Cold War. French writer Stendhal assigned the hue to passion and romance, under threat by the artifice of society. Here is an idiosyncratic tracing of red throughout history. Start reading >>

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Includes: Romeo and JulietWuthering HeightsWest Side Story • Twilight

In Romeo and Juliet, Mercutio tells the tale of Queen Mab, the fairy who visits sleeping humans, infusing their dreams with their greatest desires. To lawyers Mab injects dreams of fees; to ladies she supplies visions of kisses. But what do teenagers dream? Follow Queen Mab and her “team of little atomies” as she visits teenage brooders, vampires and celebrities, swooping from Wuthering Heights to West Side Story, from Twilight to Shakespeare in Love. Start reading >>

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Includes: Pork Belly • Bacon Everything • Lardons • Fried Pork Rinds

Responding to consumer demand for lower-fat foods, the U.S. pork industry began raising slimmer hogs in the 1980s, touting its refashioned product as “the other white meat.” But lower-fat pork can be bland and dry, and the factory farms that raise hogs by the thousands are inhumane and environmentally destructive. Preference is shifting back toward lusciously fatty pork from pastured pigs, often of heritage breeds that not long ago were in danger of disappearing. Start reading >>

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Includes: U.S. Environmental Policy • Kyoto Protocol • An Inconvenient Truth • Climate-Change Deniers

“Some say the world will end in fire, / Some say in ice.” So wrote poet Robert Frost. If climate change prophets are correct, both scenarios may come to pass: Global warming could cause catastrophic wildfires, as well as the onset of a new ice age. Although the ultimate effects of anthropogenic (human-caused) global warming remain unknown, the vast majority of scientists concur that it is, in fact, already happening—and at an accelerating pace. Start reading >>

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Includes: Bloomer Girls • A League of Their Own • Philadelphia Dolly Vardens • Jackie Mitchell

During World War II, when the U.S. shipped its men overseas, women filled in on the baseball field as well as in factories. Rosie the Riveter, meet Sally the Slugger. But unlike Rosie, Sally wasn’t mere propaganda: Women’s baseball had been played since the 1860s, and the suffragist movement had championed the sport as a symbol of women’s independence. This map takes a look back—through a Cracker Jack spyglass—at these belles of the ballgame.

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Includes: Motley • John Gielgud • As You Like It • Theoni V. Aldredge

When Shakespeare wrote “Motley’s the only wear,” he was referring to the costume of the fool, a character he typically cast as a teacher of profound insights. To theatergoers of the 1930s through the 1960s, the phrase “Designs by Motley” denoted gold-standard stagecraft. This map examines the work and legacy of the English design trio who adopted the Motley moniker and explores what happens when costuming incorporates fashion, cross-dressing, gender politics and notions of truth. Start reading >>

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Includes: “Strange Fruit” • Abel Meeropol • Ethel and Julius Rosenberg • The Book of Daniel

In 1939 Time magazine denounced Billie Holiday’s recording of “Strange Fruit” as a “prime piece of musical propaganda.” In 1999 Time named “Strange Fruit” the song of the century. How did a poem by a white Jewish New York schoolteacher become one of the most influential protest songs of the civil rights movement? “Strange Fruit” changed the lives of its creator and its famous interpreter and helped end the unspeakable practice of lynching in America. Start reading >>

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Includes: London Gin • William Hogarth • The Glorious Revolution • Casablanca

Gin is a colorless liquid with a colorful history. Invented around 1650 by a Dutch doctor, it was later combined with the tonic prescribed to treat malaria. But along the way it garnered a nasty reputation as the cause of many social ills, and, corrupted by unscrupulous “bathtub gin” makers, it actually poisoned Prohibition-era tipplers. Gin, it’s clear, can be as elegant as an icy dry martini and as sleazy as a down-at-the-heels drunk. Start reading >>

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Includes: Tulip Mania • Orchids • Georgia O’Keeffe • Medicinal Plants

It sometimes seems as if madness and flowers grow from the same garden. The Greek hunter Narcissus, who was so obsessed with his reflection that he died staring at it, shares his name with the gaudy daffodil. Orchids have driven people to crime, even to their death, while other plants offer cures—or hallucinatory delirium—upon ingestion. Plants have even been muses, inspiring artists as diverse as Georgia O’Keeffe and Roger Corman. Start reading >>

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Includes: Ancient Rome • Han Dynasty • Benjamin Franklin • Frederic “the Ice King” Tudor

Schemes for staying cool have often been extravagant, inefficient and expensive, but the advent of the air conditioner in the early 20th century made beating the heat feasible. In 1979 Time magazine writer Frank Trippett commented, “It is…no exaggeration to say that Americans have taken to mechanical cooling avidly and greedily. Many have become all but addicted.” That still rings true—and Americans aren’t the only ones chilling out anymore. Start reading >>

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Includes: Textspeak ;) • Webster’s English • Franklin’s Alphabet • Newspeak

OMG. LOL. No longer the sole domain of texting teenagers, these coinages appear in the OED. (Ahem, that’s the Oxford English Dictionary.) But purists say textspeak will be the downfall of English as we know it. This CultureMap considers what history’s language reformers might have thought of textspeak, including lexicographer Noah Webster, American Revolutionary Benjamin Franklin and 19th-century poet Charles Bombaugh, who might B N clined 2 conclude this sen 10’s like this. Start reading >>

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Includes: Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters • One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s NestEasy RiderOn the Road

In 1964 a dozen or so LSD-dropping protohippies from the San Francisco Bay Area climbed aboard a kaleidoscopically painted school bus for a journey across America. Led by novelist Ken Kesey, these self-styled Merry Pranksters set the New York World’s Fair as their destination. But, really, it wasn’t the geographical end point but the long, strange trip itself—and the new psychic terrain the Pranksters traveled—that mattered. This map explores some of that territory. Start reading >>

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Includes: Richard Wagner • Star WarsJawsSuperman

Richard Wagner wasn’t the first to use leitmotifs, or melodic phrases associated with specific dramatic characters—but he did so more extensively and inventively than anyone before him. Today’s practitioners of Wagnerian leitmotifs include such composers as John Williams, who scored three of Hollywood’s first summer blockbusters. Wagner’s echo can also be heard in Fritz Lang’s M, which uses Edvard Grieg’s Peer Gynt, and even in Shaft’s superhip theme song. Watch closely and listen carefully. Start reading >>

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Includes: Garlic • Heart Disease • Tutankhamun • Puttanesca

In the case of garlic, which has long been touted as a panacea and superfood, folk wisdom and science coincide more closely all the time. The “stinking rose” was a cure-all for the ancient Egyptians, was thought to increase strength in Greek athletes and virility in Roman lovers and, in medieval Europe, allegedly repelled mosquitoes and vampires. Now alternative medicine has folks reaching for garlic supplements to prevent everything from heart disease to cancer.

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Includes: NotoriousRebeccaSuspicionSpellbound

Alfred Hitchcock’s midcareer suspense classic Notorious, about a beautiful young spy living among killers, is a tale of international intrigue intensified by the forces that separate the love-struck, brooding hero from the courageous heroine. This map casts a net out from Notorious to capture some hallmarks—the ominous staircases, thwarted romances, domineering women, speeding cars, timorous ingenues, cups of poison, thrilling camera work, sly humor and high style—of the great director’s work. Start reading >>

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Includes: Breaking Bad • Walter White and Jesse Pinkman • Chemistry • Walt Whitman

Fans of AMC’s Breaking Bad are on the edge of their seats, biting their fingernails and waiting with bated breath for the show’s final eight episodes. Meth-dealing ne’er-do-well Jesse Pinkman would probably say, “Chill, dudes,” but the show’s just too much of a rush, and they’ve been craving their next hit too long already. One can only imagine how awful the withdrawal is going to be after the series finale. Start reading >>

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Includes: A Room With a ViewMy Beautiful LaundretteA Passage to IndiaThe Remains of the Day

In 1923 a New York Times reviewer assessing E.M. Forster’s Room With a View suggested that all the British author’s novels should make use of that title, since they share “the most tolerant, penetrating, enlightened view possible.” Forster’s novels (and their literary and cinematic descendants) shine a progressive and compassionate beam on clashes of cultures, classes and values—and on the tragedy of a life lived in the shadow cast by the “undeveloped heart.” Start reading >>

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Includes: Henry Ford • The Magnificent Ambersons • The Car • NASCAR

For Americans and cars, it was love at first sight. Once horseless carriages hit the road in the early 20th century, Henry Ford could not turn out the Tin Lizzie—his black, boxy Model T—fast enough. It’s estimated that today more than 250 million cars ply American highways. This map also pays homage to cars in films—some are classics, others are high-octane adventures, underlying all is the lure of the open road. Start reading >>

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Includes: The Seven Seas • Ice • Mars • Mad Max Trilogy

Water is a life force. Without it Earth would be a barren desert—Mars, basically. Oceans cover 70 percent of our planet’s surface, just as we humans are more than half water. And, paradoxically, we need freshwater to survive but if the polar ice caps melt, the ensuing floods will kill us. No wonder so many postapocalyptic scenarios revolve around water, or the lack of it. Start reading >>

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Includes: I Love LucyMy Favorite Husband • Desilu Productions • Harpo Marx

Lucille Ball (1911–1989) was surely one of the funniest human beings ever to have pratfallen to Earth. She appeared in dozens of B movies during the 1930s and ’40s, only to come into her gut-busting own in the late-1940s radio comedy My Favorite Husband and in the groundbreaking 1950s TV sitcom I Love Lucy. And because her costar husband was clever enough to invent the rerun, we’ve never stopped laughing at—or loving—Lucy. Start reading >>

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Includes: Soap Operas • Traditional Television • Arrested Development • Streaming Video

Before the internet, before cable or satellite, before premium subscription channels, there was just television. In the U.S., three nationwide commercial networks—ABC, CBS and NBC— competed for a captive audience. By the time Fox Broadcasting joined them in 1986, there were myriad television-viewing options. The internet was a separate entity until streaming video appeared, delivering TV shows and films directly to computer users. The future of television is here, and it is online. Start reading >>

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Includes: “Walk This Way” • Monty Python • The Marx Brothers • William Shakespeare

A paronomasia (a.k.a. pun) is a play on words that produces two different meanings for humorous effect. Samuel Johnson derided puns as the “lowest form of humor,” while Alfred Hitchcock extolled them as the “highest form of literature.” William Shakespeare—a jokester whose works include more than 400 puns about genitalia alone—would probably wax paronomastic about how both men’s last names are suggestive of penises. One thing’s certain about that Willy: He had balls. Start reading >>

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Includes: “Daisy Bell” • Daisy Dukes • Princess Daisy • Daisy Miller

Unfairly excluded from the classic children’s rhyme in favor of showier red roses and blue violets, daisies are plain, perhaps, but they inspire. To paraphrase an axiom from geometry class, not all flowers are daisies, but not all daisies are flowers. Daisies and their womanly namesakes turn up throughout cultural history. As heroine, ingenue, provocateur and peace symbol, they have entranced authors, screenwriters, lyricists and copywriters—not to mention botanists—for centuries. Start reading >>

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Includes: Master Juba • Hoofers Club • Gregory Hines • Bring in ’da Noise, Bring in ’da Funk

The history of tap dance throws a spotlight on the African American experience. Rooted in the dancing of enslaved Africans, tap developed on urban streets and flourished on stage and screen before it died in the 1950s and was resurrected by white women in the 1970s. Giving voice to African Americans and functioning both to empower and to stereotype, tap dance embodies the cultural rhythms of being black in America.

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Includes: Saint Joan • Otto Preminger • Jean Seberg • Breathless

The October 21, 1956, airing of The Ed Sullivan Show introduced 17-year-old Jean Seberg to the world. The occasion? After a massive talent search, she had been chosen to play Joan of Arc in Otto Preminger’s marquee film Saint Joan. Fourteen years later a Hollywood gossip column ran a blind item smearing Seberg’s reputation. She never recovered. What dark grudge did the FBI and its megalomaniacal director, J. Edgar Hoover, hold against this pixie-haired star?

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Includes: The Jackson 5 • New Edition • New Kids on the Block • ’N Sync

The boys are back! Today’s much-touted boy band revival is giving the young ladies something to scream about—as if they didn’t already have Bieber Fever. The truth is, since the 1960s, boy bands haven’t disappeared for long from the pop music scene. Many live on, increasingly less boyish, for decades of comeback tours. Here, with notes on the latest crop, are some observations on the rivalries, slow jams and teenybopper transcendence of boy bands. Start reading >>

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Includes: Sex and the City • Magnolia Bakery • Retro Food • Hostess

Why is the world so besotted with cupcakes these days? Is it because a generation raised on junky treats has found a classier incarnation to satisfy its sweet tooth? Because we watched rail-thin actress and fashion icon Sarah Jessica Parker eat them on TV’s Sex and the City without her putting on a single ounce? Maybe we’ve just realized that cupcakes make life a whole lot sweeter. Start reading >>

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Includes: Swingers • Wiccans • Bikers • Sales Cults

Mass-produced, sprawling, generic: These descriptors have come to be associated with what was once a utopian vision realized in planned communities such as Levittown, New York; Reston, Virginia; and Seaside, Florida. Although suburban towns are popularly depicted as straitlaced cookie-cutter colonies of conformity, in reality unconventional subcultures have flourished outside our cities for generations. This map uncovers little-known truths and prevailing myths associated with suburban subversives and reveals their organized and diverse discipleship. Start reading >>

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Includes: Harriet Tubman • Sacagawea • Carry Nation • Calamity Jane

On the western frontier, along the Underground Railroad and in World War II munitions plants, strong women have shown they can hold their own, often overcoming chauvinism, prejudice and sheer malice to leave a physical mark. We pay tribute to the heroic and the altruistic, those who excelled on playing fields, piloted planes and performed daring rescues—and to a hatchet-wielding lunatic and a lying drunk. Start reading >>

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Includes: The Golden Compass • Arctic Ice • Magnetic North • Santa’s Workshop

Human beings are pulled in every cardinal direction. American pioneers went west in search of new lives and golden opportunity. Hippies and their countercultural heirs look eastward for enlightenment. Snowbirds—retirees from Canada and the upper reaches of the United States—fly south to skip winter. But for some the pull is profoundly northward, into peculiarly merciless and unforgiving territory. Not even Santa Claus is on safe ground. Start reading >>

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Includes: Dashiell Hammett • Raymond Chandler • William Faulkner • Double Indemnity

As its name suggests, noir (French for “black”) is shrouded in darkness and inhabited by tough guys and seductive dames with binge-drinking, chain-smoking ways. Noir romance ends with a “Goodbye, baby” and a bullet; the promise of America, “land of the free, home of the brave,” is notably absent. Writers like Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler, movies like Double Indemnity and Laura, destroy that dream, replacing it with a stylish nightmare. Herewith, the gumshoe footnotes. Start reading >>

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Includes: Ancient Purple • Purple Prose • Mauve • Prince

Purple is a color that sets its wearer apart. Somehow purple signals eccentricity, royalty, bereavement, independence, radicalism, violence and even tortured prose. Purple was also the first synthetically created color, and its curious history is matched by its cultural currency. Start reading >>

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Includes: Lady Gaga • Madonna • David Bowie • Leigh Bowery

Lady Gaga may have emerged from an egg at the 2011 Grammy Awards, but she didn’t just hatch out of nowhere. The singer is part of an established tradition of stylish freaks who push the envelope of self-presentation. This CultureMap traces the relationships between Lady Gaga and her forebears, who include Madonna, David Bowie, Leigh Bowery and Andy Warhol. Start reading >>

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Includes: Brooklyn Bridge • Brooklyn • Hart Crane • P.T. Barnum

The Brooklyn Bridge belongs to all New Yorkers—and is common property of the human imagination. Admired as an engineering marvel and beatified as a symbol of transcendence, it has inspired modernist poetry and TV sitcoms and appeared in romantic comedies and disaster flicks; it even lent its name to a 1960s vocal group. This bridge doesn’t just link boroughs—it connects the realm of steel and stone to the realm of the spirit. Start reading >>

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Includes: Peter Higgs • The God Particle • The Large Hadron Collider • Particle Physics

In July 2012, scientists analyzing data from the Large Hadron Collider on the Swiss-French border announced, “I think we have it.” “It” was evidence of the Higgs boson, sometimes called the God particle. You don’t have to be a particle physicist to understand the importance of the discovery: The Higgs boson, which is believed to impart mass to other particles, may help explain the mysteries of how our world came to be. Start reading >>

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Includes: J.D. Salinger • CasablancaMy Foolish HeartField of Dreams

The brothers Epstein, who wrote the screenplay for the noir classic Casablanca, also penned the only J.D. Salinger story-to-movie adaptation, My Foolish Heart, which forever soured Salinger on Hollywood. Years later the movie Field of Dreams, in which the famous recluse should have been a primary character, was made with a fictional writer in Salinger’s stead. The threads among the Epsteins, Salinger and Field of Dreams cross again with the Boston Red Sox. Start reading >>

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Includes: Animal Hoarders • Grey Gardens • Familiars • Spinsters

“I love…cats. I want to hug all of them,” sobs a woman calling herself Debbie in a YouTube video that now has more than 22 million views. “Debbie” is actually 23-year-old actor Cara Hartmann delivering the performance of a lifetime. The character she plays is eerily familiar, but is it possible for a woman to be that crazy about cats? This map explores the origins of crazy cat ladies and even some crazy cats. Start reading >>

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Includes: The Appalachian Trail • Benton MacKaye • The Transcendentalists • Herman Melville

It is North America’s answer to Mount Everest. Stretching almost 2,200 miles from Maine to Georgia, the Appalachian Trail beckons the spiritual and the adventurous alike. Follow the trail from its transcendentalist roots through its modern-day traditions as you meet forest planner Benton MacKaye, humorist Bill Bryson and the majestic Mount Greylock. Even Moby-Dick may peek his head out from the mountainous landscape. Start reading >>

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Includes: All About My MotherTalk to HerBroken Embraces • Penélope Cruz

The early low-budget films of Spanish screenwriter and director Pedro Almodóvar (b. 1949) are frolicsome but amateurish. It was the comedic sophistication of his Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (1988) that brought the auteur serious international acclaim. With the Oscar-winning All About My Mother a decade later, Almodóvar embarked on a new, more artistically ambitious phase of his career, creating films that are deeply informed by movie history yet unmistakably his own. Start reading >>

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Includes: April 15, 1912 • Titanic’s Final Moments • Boat Disaster Films • Titanic

A lot happened in 2012, which marked the centennial of the maiden voyage—and tragic sinking—of the RMS Titanic: the cruise ship Costa Concordia grounded off the coast of Tuscany; an Australian billionaire vowed to build a replica ship, christened Titanic II, to sail the iceberg-bedeviled route made infamous by its namesake; and James Cameron released a 3-D version of his landmark film Titanic. This map charts the ship’s cataclysmic course through culture.

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Includes: Sexual Addiction • Californication • David Duchovny • Don Juan

Stories of sexual temptation have been around since the one about Eve offering Adam the apple. Most people keep their sexual appetites in check, while others stumble off the virtuous path and even veer into addiction. The lost soul might be a Don Juan seducing señoritas, Californication’s Hank Moody cruising around L.A. with a cigarette dangling from his mouth or just the average Joe watching internet porn on company time. Start reading >>

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Includes: Sheila Heti • Amy Sohn • GirlsA Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius

More than two millennia ago Socrates opined that the unexamined life is not worth living, and people have taken him up on his call to introspection ever since. In fact, a bright new generation, who as kids were told they were special and precocious, is particularly adept at it, sharing discoveries about their pseudo-adult lives in novels and TV dramas that, depending on the audience, are either insufferable, unbelievably astute or both. Start reading >>

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Includes: The Alice Books • Alice in Wonderland Films • “White Rabbit” • American McGee’s Alice

Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland will celebrate its sesquicentennial in 2015. Wonderland and its sequel, Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There, retain their innocent charm for younger readers while resonating more darkly for adults. Not simply cherished as quaint Victorian nonsense, the books have inspired numerous interpretations, from psychoanalysis to psychedelia. And Alice’s alternative adaptations show us fundamentally the same girl—curious, adventurous and perpetually changing her size and shape. Start reading >>

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Includes: Frederick Law Olmsted • Grand Army Plaza • Prospect Park • Central Park

Frederick Law Olmsted shaped the American landscape. In fact, it’s hard to imagine what the United States would look like without his university campuses, parks and suburban communities. For Olmsted, landscape design wasn’t all about aesthetics. He sought nothing less than to heal the sick and feed the intellect and the soul. Everything Olmsted designed was meant to help people be better—at home, work and school on the American campus. Start reading >>

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Includes: The Armory Show • Paul Cézanne • 27 Rue de Fleurus • Henri Matisse

On February 17, 1913, the French invaded America. On that day the International Exhibition of Modern Art, a.k.a. the Armory Show, opened at Manhattan’s 69th Regiment Armory. Its scope—about 1,300 works by 300 artists—was vast, but attention focused on a coterie of avant-garde French artists, much of their work making its U.S. debut. Incensed critics howled—and the public poured in. An estimated 87,000 people attended this month-long event, which transformed American culture.

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Includes: Azealia Banks • Harlem • Paris Fashion Week • Mash-Ups

Harlem’s Azealia Banks is hailed by critics, indie aficionados and fashionistas as rap’s new It girl, taking the title from mega-sensation Nicki Minaj. Banks has gotten so big so fast that her tracks turned up at Paris fashion shows before she was signed to a record label. Like rap king Kanye West, she has managed to bridge the gap between hip-hop credibility and pop stardom. Start reading >>

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Includes: Dark ShadowsDark Shadows • Barnabas Collins • Forever Knight

In 2012 popular Goth film director Tim Burton released a star-studded adaptation of the cult classic supernatural TV soap opera Dark Shadows. This map celebrates the show and its vampire protagonist, Barnabas Collins, and stakes them to other vampiric properties—and to Masterpiece Theatre. Start reading >>

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Includes: Jane Austen • Sense and Sensibility • Novels of Sensibility • The Rape of the Lock

Jane Austen’s first published novel, Sense and Sensibility, tells the story of two sisters of contrasting personalities, practical Elinor and emotional Marianne Dashwood, whose father’s death leaves them without the fortune necessary to attract desirable husbands. Many critics have viewed the book as Austen’s wry commentary on popular 18th-century novels of sensibility, which celebrate the power of emotions rather than logical reasoning. Without taking sides, this map explores an eternally debatable dichotomy. Start reading >>

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Includes: The Roots • Police Academy • Biz Markie • The Fat Boys

In the early days of hip-hop, artists such as the Fat Boys and Biz Markie introduced the world to beatboxing, the art of virtuosic vocal percussion. But modern practitioners such as Rahzel are as likely to count Michael Winslow, the “Man of 10,000 Sound Effects” from the Police Academy films, and a capella jazz pioneer Bobby McFerrin as influences. This map takes a look at people who make the music with their mouth. Start reading >>

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Includes: The Epic of Gilgamesh • Mesopotamia • Sam Calagione • Beer and Food

Beer has been around since the beginning of civilization—in fact, it’s likely that beer had something to do with civilization getting started in the first place. Beer’s long story is a heady brew, but aficionados the world over agree that a cold mug of suds can strongly influence politics, history, art and, perhaps especially, the sense and sensibleness of individual drinkers. Go ahead, take a sip.

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Includes: Fat Albert and the Cosby KidsThe Cosby ShowFatherhood • The “Pound Cake” Speech

Comedian and actor William Henry “Bill” Cosby Jr. has been spinning humor into gold for more than half a century. This Emmy- and Grammy-winning megastar, with more than 60 recordings, books and films to his credit plus enduring success on television, has tickled our funny bone and engaged our brain. This map takes a brief look at his signature family-friendly work and comedic legacy. Start reading >>

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Includes: Diana Vreeland • Bill Cunningham • Madame X • The Little Black Dress

Fashion is always going back to black. Basic black can be styled to suit many attitudes: propriety and rebellion, piety and concupiscence, fascism and anarchy. Nuns wear black, as do dominatrixes. The Duchess of Windsor loved black, but so did the Wicked Witch of the West. (Come to think of it, they weren’t all that different.) We applaud the indefatigable sartorial brilliance of the absence of all color, plus tastemakers who prescribed and documented it. Start reading >>

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Includes: Brave • Pixar • The Secret of Kells • Celtic Folklore

The 2012 animated children’s film Brave, the first fairy tale and first film with a female protagonist produced by Pixar Animation Studios, is the story of Merida, a young Scottish princess who aspires to be an archer. The dark, mythic narrative is in the tradition of the nightmarish bedtime stories of Hans Christian Andersen, Japanese anime and Celtic myth rather than the saccharine yarns animated for the screen by Disney, Pixar’s parent company. Start reading >>

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Includes: Sistine Chapel Frescoes • Genitalia in Art • Restoration Controversy • Michelangelo

All Saints Day 2012 marked the 500th anniversary of Michelangelo’s completion of the ceiling frescoes in the Sistine Chapel. Now the setting for one of Catholicism’s most sacred rituals, the papal conclave, by which a new pope is selected, the chapel has been at the center of a surprising amount of notoriety—much of it generated by Michelangelo’s gloriously gorgeous creation scenes, his virile God, an astounding tally of nudes and even a penis-eating serpent. Start reading >>

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Includes: Natural Selection • Crypsis • Chameleons • School Uniforms

For eons Earth’s creatures have devised all sorts of ways to survive, and camouflage—lying low, blending in with the crowd, donning a disguise—is often the way to go. That may mean changing color, buttoning into a school uniform or military fatigues or pretending to be something we’re not. As Charles Darwin and Arnold Schwarzenegger have taught us, it all comes down to survival. Start reading >>

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Includes: Voltaire • CandideGulliver’s Travels • The Garden

Écrasez l’infâme (“Crush the horror”) was Voltaire’s motto, and for much of his life this 18th-century writer devoted his literary energy to exposing the vile ways human beings treat one another. In his most influential work—the satirical novella Candide, about a long-suffering innocent—Voltaire points a mocking finger at the institutions and social conventions that, in his view, add to the world’s sorrow. It’s a brutal little book—and a very funny one. Start reading >>

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Includes: Lower East Side • Lunch Trucks • Street Vendor Project • Foodies

Street-food vendors in the U.S., long associated with the immigrant experience and the needs of time-pressed workers, today offer something for everybody, from tacos, sambal, plantains and kimchi to organic ice cream, schnitzel, coq au vin and grass-fed-beef burgers. This map traces the evolution of mobile cuisine from Wild West chuck wagons and turn-of-the-century pushcarts to today’s hottest food trucks, chefs and farmers markets. Start reading >>

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Includes: Censorship • Adventures of Huckleberry FinnNi---r: The Strange Career of a Troublesome Word • Ralph Ellison

Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, a beloved American novel, was nonetheless controversial from the start, called out early for its low morals and later drawing disapproval for racist language and its caricatured portrayal of the escaped slave Jim. The book’s notoriety launches our exploration of the intersection of race and culture, from Randall Kennedy’s Ni---r: The Strange Career of a Troublesome Word to Ralph Ellison, the rap group N.W.A and Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained. Start reading >>

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Includes: Charles Dickens • Oliver TwistA Christmas CarolBleak House

The teeming streets of London at the beginning of the Industrial Age have been forever colored for us by the imagination of Charles Dickens. His indelible portraits of hapless orphans, scheming lawyers, small-minded bureaucrats and cruel businessmen became stock character types. Few writers of fiction have had such a lasting effect on Western society. This map examines five of Dickens’s most enduring novels and their persistence in contemporary culture. Start reading >>

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Includes: Ice Hockey • Bobby Fischer vs. Boris Spassky • The Olympics • Yevgeny Yevtushenko

Back in the bad old days of the Cold War, breaking the ice between the United States and the Soviet Union was like going at a glacier with a toothpick. During that decades-long public relations contest, literary broadsides, chessmen and Olympic gold were the spoils. In effect, the Cold War was fought with pawns and hockey pucks, soda pop and jazz. And both sides were fighting dirty. Start reading >>

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Includes: Black Sox Scandal • Pete Rose • Jake La Motta • Ryan Braun

A betting man once told his bookie, “Fans are the lowest form of life.” Fans are also assumed to be innocents, cheering on their favorite athletes’ will to win. But sometimes an athlete will go to extremes—gambling, doping, cheating—and the ensuing birth of scandal can bring the death of innocence. When athletes court controversy, players and fans alike sometimes risk losing everything for a win. Start reading >>

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Includes: Nikola Tesla • Thomas Edison • War of Currents • Death Ray

The scientific breakthroughs of Serbian-born engineer Nikola Tesla, once one of the world’s foremost inventors, were among the most significant of the early 20th century. His introduction of alternating current for energy transmission surpassed Thomas Edison’s inefficient direct current model and transformed civic and industrial life. This CultureMap looks at the “War of Currents” Tesla waged with Edison, his “death ray” that could kill millions instantly and his abiding presence in popular culture. Start reading >>

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Includes: The Divine Comedy • Dante the Hero • The Artist in Exile • Franz Liszt

More than 700 years after Dante Alighieri began writing it in exile, The Divine Comedy still absorbs readers and obsesses artists—and a three-book-long religious poem doesn’t achieve that kind of staying power easily. This map explores the ongoing aftershocks of medieval Italy’s first big literary hit, the epic poem about life, sin, death and the afterlife that takes its readers from the terrifying depths of Hell to the rarefied heights of Paradise. Start reading >>

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Includes: Edgar Allan Poe • Urbanization • Publishing in 19th-Century America • The Temperance Movement

Edgar Allan Poe remains one of America’s most widely read authors. His image is iconic, and his legend and writings pervade contemporary culture. This map explores the societal forces at work in the early 19th century that helped shape Poe’s life, creative output and mysterious death. Poe’s personal struggles and literary achievements in a rapidly urbanizing, often lawless America give us a portrait of a darkly shadowed and singularly focused genius. Start reading >>

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Includes: Oscar Wilde • Dandyism • Dorian Gray • “The Cultured Faun”

What should a man be willing to sacrifice for style? Comfort, dignity, identity? Should he risk his own salvation? This map plots a course through some of the cultural high points of male sartorial smartness, beginning with Oscar Wilde’s supernaturally stunning Dorian Gray—the vain young dandy who wishes his portrait would age instead of him and who grows corrupt after his terrible wish comes true—and ending with glam rock’s decadent abandon. Start reading >>

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Includes: Diego Rivera • MoMA • Henri Matisse • Great Depression

Diego Rivera was known for his commitment to public art, and the very medium he chose, fresco, was an expression of his dedication. When Rivera came to New York in 1931 to create works funded by the Museum of Modern Art, commercial, artistic and public interests harmonized. But a later commission for the Rockefeller family erupted in controversy. This map explores the question “To whom does public art belong?” Start reading >>

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Includes: The Thrilla in Manila • Manchester United / Chelsea • Bruins / Canadiens • The Curse of the Bambino

Everybody loves a good rivalry. Ever since Hector and Achilles—and probably even before that—rivalries have been the stuff of legend. Today some of the greatest rivals are professional athletes, such as Smokin’ Joe Frazier and Muhammad Ali, and the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees. Sometimes, as in the case of Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova, archrivals can become the best of friends. Start reading >>

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Includes: Aldous Huxley • The Doors of Perception • Allen Ginsberg • The Harvard Psychedelic Club

“The book that launched a thousand trips.” That’s how London’s Daily Telegraph described Aldous Huxley’s Doors of Perception, an account of the author’s initial use of mescaline. Best remembered for his prophetic dystopian novel Brave New World, Huxley was also a religious philosopher and a pacifist. In The Doors of Perception—a brief, soberly written book from which 1960s rock band the Doors took their name—Huxley hands us the key to our own minds. Start reading >>

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Includes: The Idiot • Epilepsy • Sigmund Freud • Crime and Punishment

Nineteenth-century Russian author Fyodor Dostoevsky suffered from epilepsy, an affliction he gave to many of his characters—heroes and villains alike. Sigmund Freud, the father of modern psychiatry, psychoanalyzed Dostoevsky after the writer’s death and concluded that Dostoevsky’s hatred of his father caused his seizures. This map looks at the Freud-Dostoevsky connection and makes some forays into Dostoevsky’s own attempts at talk therapy, as well as filmmaker Woody Allen’s appreciation for both men. Start reading >>

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Includes: Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass • Frederick Douglass • The Underground Railroad • Sojourner Truth

Freedom, equality and justice have been American ideals since before the nation won its independence. But their opposites—slavery, inequality and injustice—come to the fore in the writing of Frederick Douglass, an escaped slave and abolitionist. Douglass’s rousing oratory and his work as a stationmaster for the Underground Railroad made him the voice of the mid-19th-century abolitionist movement—and a man for whom the American dream would not be denied.

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Includes: Totalitarian Dystopias • Brave New World • Fordism • Metropolis

Dystopias are the worst of all possible worlds—the opposite of utopias, or imagined places where social and political conditions are ideal. Dystopian novels came into their own in the first half of the 20th century, when sociopolitical revolutions ultimately resulted in totalitarian states. Today dystopian narratives remain influential, especially, as this map will show, when crossed with big business. Start reading >>

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Includes: Why Johnny Can’t Read • No Child Left Behind • Waiting for “Superman” • Harlem Children’s Zone Project

Since the Reagan administration’s report A Nation at Risk: The Imperative for Educational Reform (1983) declared that U.S. public schools were producing graduates who could not compete effectively with those from other countries, education reform has been an acute political priority. But the polemic about how best to educate children began centuries ago. This map looks at the struggles to make American public schools live up to their mandate to provide successful universal education. Start reading >>

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Includes: “Sleep Tight” • The Wrong Side of the Bed • “Knock on Wood” • “Fingers Crossed”

When daily life veers into the unknown and unexpected, people use everyday expressions for explanations and reassurance. Whether employed to bring good luck or prevent bad, to illuminate mysterious things like sleep or assuage the anxiety we feel when announcing our plans to the world, familiar sayings offer comfort through magical “logic” when science and reason cannot. So—fingers crossed!—let’s explore the origins and meanings of six well-known turns of phrase. Start reading >>

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Includes: Jim Thorpe • Jackie Robinson • Bill Russell • Texas Western Miners

The histories of sports and civil rights in the U.S. are intertwined with the idea of fair play. But what “fair” means on and off the playing field continues to evolve with our ideas about race, gender and sexuality, and the actions of sports organizations have echoed both lingering prejudice and increasing tolerance. As rights movements have gained momentum, the accomplishments of minority, female and gay athletes have helped nudge public opinion toward greater acceptance. Start reading >>

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Includes: J.R.R. Tolkien • Christopher Tolkien • Middle-Earth • The Chronicles of Narnia

J.R.R. Tolkien’s stories of Middle-earth, a fictional land that evokes northern European prehistory and legends, have motivated countless imitators and adapters—writers, filmmakers, creators of intricately complex games—who spin tales involving dragons and wizards and cursed landscapes. Such imaginary places and events, in worlds governed by their own rules and historical precedents, encourage us to reconsider our own reality and perhaps escape it, if only for a few hours. Start reading >>

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Includes: 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea • Captain Nemo • The Mysterious IslandNautilus

Captain Nemo, Jules Verne’s giant-squid-fighting antihero from the novel 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, is a mysterious, surprisingly complex figure in an otherwise straightforward early scientific adventure story. This map follows Nemo and his splendid submarine, the Nautilus, on a revealing journey into the origins of this mad captain’s character and also describes his influence on later technological innovations in the real world. Start reading >>

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Includes: Duchamp’s Ready-Mades • Ray Johnson • Richard Prince • Copyright Infringement

The ancient complaint, from the Book of Ecclesiastes, that “there is no new thing under the sun” seems more timely than ever, as visual artists, musicians and writers reproduce work originally created by others. Whether works incorporating “found objects” breathe new life into Western art or sound its death rattle is open to debate—as is the legal status of art that remakes, with varying degrees of alteration, work that somebody else made previously. Start reading >>

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Includes: HBO • A Song of Ice and Fire • The SopranosThe Lord of the Rings

Television must cater to the demands of its audience—which are often for more violence, gore and sex. If Mob movies are performing well at the box office, television had better make a Mafia show. And now that fantasy is again all the rage, we should expect to see prop swords and leather pantaloons. HBO apparently believes its audience knows best, rewarding us with the prodigiously bloody, extremely popular fantasy series Game of Thrones.

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Includes: “Piece of My Heart” • Janis Joplin • Odetta • Joan Baez

As the first American president to be born in the 1960s, Barack Obama evokes the energy of one of the most dynamic decades in the nation’s history. Beginning with the song “Piece of My Heart,” singer Janis Joplin’s most famous recording, this map follows the stories of several of the era’s leading musicians—and their surprising connections to one another and to a new generation of political leadership. Start reading >>

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Includes: George Orwell • Spanish Civil War • Animal FarmDarkness at Noon

George Orwell’s best-remembered slogan from Nineteen Eighty-Four—“Big Brother Is Watching You”—reverberates in the 21st century, as computer tracking, surveillance cameras and “security” measures infiltrate our daily lives. Commentators of every political stripe routinely fling about the adjective Orwellian, describing a government that tightly controls its citizens through intimidation and constant monitoring. This map reveals the term’s origins and offers some pop-culture examples. Start reading >>

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Includes: Richard Wagner • Bayreuth Festival • MacbethSleep No More

Opera lovers caught up in the Sturm und Drang of Richard Wagner’s Ring of the Nibelung tetralogy are moved by the idea of Gesamtkunstwerk, the fusion of different art forms—such as drama, poetry and music—into one work. Centuries earlier, Shakespeare brought the same sort of spectacle to the stage, and modern artists are extending the notion to our everyday lives, delivering artistic experiences via activities as diverse as tree planting and video gaming.

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Includes: Goldman Sachs • Griftopia • Robert Rubin • Jon Corzine

Investment banking giant Goldman Sachs was once Wall Street’s gold standard for sound financial foresight. In the wake of the 2008 financial crisis the company emerged as an even more powerful force in the American economy, but not without being exposed as a greedy manipulator of the federal government by Matt Taibbi, author of the book Griftopia, and other journalists. This map looks at Goldman’s enormous wealth and its influence over the life of every American. Start reading >>

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Includes: Edison Cylinder • The Golden Age of Hi-Fi • Transistor Radio • Apple iPod

Audiophiles—or audiofools, as they’re sometimes called—have pursued better sound recordings since Thomas Edison’s time (Edison himself was an audiophile). The so-called Golden Age of Hi-Fi (the 1950s and early 1960s) made both state-of-the-art sound and quality playback equipment widely available, but excellent sound reproduction and commercial success haven’t always coincided. Will new digital formats usher in a second golden age, or corrupt music’s heart and soul—namely, its sound?

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Includes: The Man With No Name • “Dirty” Harry Callahan • Million Dollar BabyUnforgiven

Clint Eastwood came to international attention in Sergio Leone’s trilogy of spaghetti Westerns as a nameless protagonist wrapped in a dirty serape, a cigarillo clenched between his teeth. During his half-century-long career, Eastwood has been praised, loathed and appropriated by people as diverse as Pauline Kael and Ronald Reagan. Over time “Dirty Harry” has become better known for the more than 30 films he has directed, including Oscar winners Unforgiven and Million Dollar Baby. Start reading >>

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Includes: The Hunger Games Trilogy • The Hunger GamesSurvivorBen-Hur

Suzanne Collins’s Hunger Games novels struck a chord with audiences who want to believe in love and survival in the midst of deadly battles and who find the dystopian, media-saturated wasteland not entirely unfamiliar. As we await the games’ return to our biggest arena (the silver screen), it’s a good time for fanatics and initiates alike to discover Collins’s inspirations for her postapocalyptic trilogy, from the gladiators of ancient Rome to today’s reality television. Start reading >>

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Includes: Aldous Huxley • Crome Yellow • Hollywood • Gentlemen Prefer Blondes

British author Aldous Huxley, whose friends included artists and socialites, poets and comedians, scientists and movie stars, was one of the 20th century’s most densely networked people. His influence was as international as Huxley himself; he spent the first part of his life in Britain and continental Europe and his last 26 years in America. Few lives are as full, or as fascinating, as that of this novelist, essayist, historian, screenwriter and public intellectual.

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Includes: Poäng Chair • Eames Lounge Chair • IKEA Catalog • IKEA Showroom

This map about the home furnishings company IKEA focuses on the company’s origins, its design aesthetic and its highly successful approach to retailing and marketing. From the Poäng Chair to IKEA’s enticing showrooms to the Swedish meatballs served up in the restaurants at many locations, the planet’s largest seller of furniture and home accessories offers a unique shopping experience that attracts consumers worldwide. Start reading >>

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Includes: Genesis 1–3 • Cosmological Argument • Big Bang • The Tree of Life

Ever since the first “I am,” human beings have wanted to know where we and the world around us came from—a trait shared by devout religious believers and science-minded atheists alike. Scriptures explain our origins (or purport to), physicists theorize about them, and fantasy writers such as J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis let their imagination carry them back to what might have happened in the beginning. Start reading >>

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Includes: Mary Shelley • Frankenstein • The Godwin Family • Byron-Shelley Ghost-Story Circle

A haunting tale invented by a culturally well-connected teenage girl went on to become a genre-defining literary classic and a masterpiece of cinematic horror. Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein features a rogue scientist and his tragic, nameless creation, the result of his quest to reanimate dead matter and create new life. This map traverses Frankenstein’s unlikely, sometimes forbidding “terror-tory” to trace its origins and connections to more recent works that have rendered the story deathless. Start reading >>

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Includes: Jack London • Klondike Gold Rush • Theodore Roosevelt • Disney Dogs

Spending time with our animals, we better understand what it means to be human. Jack London’s dog novels of the frontier, The Call of the Wild and White Fang, celebrate humans’ and animals’ shared hunger for lives rich with companionship and possibility. Touching hearts from Alaska to the fictional city of Duckburg, London’s books have blazed an impressive path through history and culture. Trace some of their connections here. Start reading >>

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Includes: The War of the Worlds • Mars Science Laboratory • My Favorite MartianMars Attacks!

Is there life on Mars? The short answer is maybe. Or maybe there was at some time during the arid, cold planet’s more hospitable past. Among the objectives of unmanned missions to Mars is to search for “biosignatures”—chemical evidence living organisms leave behind. But any Martian life the rovers discover won’t have progressed beyond a very simple level or be anywhere near as interesting as the Martians found in popular culture. Start reading >>

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Includes: “Pickman’s Model” • The Picture of Dorian Gray • “The Real Thing” • Pygmalion

Why have artists’ models been favorite characters of authors across the ages? They’re malleable. They’re alluring. They’re often trouble. This map compares some of the most memorable literary sitters across genres and forms, and explores their relationships with the artists—from muse to monster, and unrequited love object to fantasy come to life. Start reading >>

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Includes: Saturday Night Live • Steve Martin • The Smothers Brothers • Conan O’Brien

Created by producer Lorne Michaels in 1975, NBC’s Saturday Night Live is one of the longest-running and most popular variety shows in television history, having launched the careers of Bill Murray, Eddie Murphy, Mike Myers, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler and dozens of other comedy legends. The connections between SNL’s celebrity guest hosts and the writers behind the sketches, parody commercials and news send-ups tell us a lot about variety shows past and present.

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Includes: James Watson • U.S. Congress • NatureGattaca

Like the human beings it defines, the human genome is complicated. And the history of its study is as nonlinear as the double helix, as cutthroat as any political campaign and as dramatic as a Hollywood blockbuster. This CultureMap examines that history, from Darwin’s first inklings of genetic coding to the imagined genetic pitfalls of a not-so-distant future. Start reading >>

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Includes: The Spotted Pig • Pizzeria Mozza • Eataly NYC • Babbo

Only a larger-than-life character like American celebrity chef, restaurateur, cookbook author and television host Mario Batali (b. 1960) would aggressively expand his food empire in an attempt to do something nobody thought possible—supersize the artisanal. Across the country and across multiple media platforms, Batali and his famous partners have successfully sold his philosophy, which combines superior Italian quality with conspicuous American excess—while simultaneously paying homespun homage to the Italian grandmother. Start reading >>

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Includes: The Avengers • The Iron Man Trilogy • Chris Evans • Thor

Updating time-tested plots and filling the screen with box-office stars and charismatic newcomers, Marvel Studios’ series of superhero films—the Iron Man trilogy, The Incredible Hulk, Thor, Captain America and The Avengers—transfers the interconnected stories of the comic-book Marvel Universe into a new arena: the Marvel Cinematic Universe. As it charts the timeless “hero’s journey,” it also confronts a challenge central to any Hollywood production: controlling powerful personalities, on-screen and off. Start reading >>

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Includes: Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein • Vincent Price • FrankenweenieYoung Frankenstein

Horror and comedy have played together on the silver screen since the early talkies, but it took 1948’s Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein to exploit the true mash-up potential. With Young Frankenstein, The Rocky Horror Picture Show and An American Werewolf in London, the genre laughed all the way to the graveyard, paving the way for director Tim Burton’s run of comedy-horror exemplars. Let’s take a ghoulish look at horror films with a funny bone. Start reading >>

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Includes: William James • Hugh Everett III • The Fabric of RealityFlatland

Long-debated notions of parallel universes came to the fore in the 19th century with William James’s philosophical works and the social satire Flatland, but it wasn’t until midway through the 20th century that physicist Hugh Everett III codified the idea with his “many-worlds interpretation.” In 1997 physicist David Deutsch refined the theory in The Fabric of Reality, and the science-fiction worlds of Neal Stephenson’s Anathem and TV’s Fringe further explore the possibilities of the multiverse. Start reading >>

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Includes: The Book of Mormon • Book of Mormon • South ParkUnder the Banner of Heaven

The Broadway musical The Book of Mormon swept the 2011 Tonys, earning nine awards, including best musical, book, score and direction. But the show is only the latest instance of Mormonism in the headlines. This CultureMap traces prominent people and works associated with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (the largest Mormon church) and its offshoots that have commanded our attention, from a seemingly bland presidential candidate to a television family of secret polygamists. Start reading >>

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Includes: CAFOs • Corn • The Omnivore’s Dilemma • Free Range

“Mystery meat” is a joking reference to obviously processed animal products like Salisbury steak and Spam. Journalist Michael Pollan and other food activists have begun to unveil the true mysteries of our food system, including the conditions in CAFOs (concentrated animal feeding operations) and the problems caused by pumping feedlot animals with indigestible food, hormones and antibiotics. This map takes the mystery out of factory farming and several of its healthier and more humane alternatives.

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Includes: Louis C.K. • Chris Rock • Talking FunnyWTF

In recent years, podcasts such as WTF and the documentary film Talking Funny have attempted to deconstruct the craft of stand-up comedy. While living legends Louis C.K. and Chris Rock have helped shaped that discourse, a younger generation of comics has emerged as stand-up stars in their own right, capitalizing on new-media marketing, do-it-yourself production and outré programming such as Adult Swim. This map explores a comedy culture that is close-knit, diverse and intensely self-analytical.

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Includes: The Twilight Zone • Ray Bradbury • Alfred Hitchcock • Roald Dahl

Rod Serling’s classic television show The Twilight Zone blended the chilling world of Alfred Hitchcock with the macabre mind of Roald Dahl and the fantastical creativity of Ray Bradbury. More than 50 years after its premiere, the provocative, award-winning drama continues to inspire filmmakers and writers (notably, screenwriters for The Simpsons). We invite you to explore the dimensions of fear and the boundaries of imagination—and humor—as you cross into The Twilight Zone.

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Includes: Kim Il-sung • Korean War • M*A*S*H • Nuclear Weapons

The most dangerous member of the Nuclear Club (the eight nations known to have nuclear weapons) may well be its newest, the often belligerent and utterly isolated North Korea. Ruled since 1948 by three generations of the despotic and eccentric Kim family, the country has more recently suffered a humanitarian crisis of epic proportions. Defectors have told of a backward and depleted nation whose people are fed lies about the world outside its boundaries.

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Includes: Homer • The Odyssey • Odysseus • Islands

In the short story “The Gospel According to Mark,” Jorge Luis Borges writes, “Generations of men, throughout recorded time, have always told and retold two stories—that of a lost ship which searches the Mediterranean seas for a dearly loved island, and that of a god who is crucified on Golgotha.” This map examines where the story of Odysseus’s perilous homeward journey came from, and what has become of it in our own time. Start reading >>

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Includes: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz • L. Frank Baum • Oz Inspirations • The Oz Series

Nearly everyone in the world knows about The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, L. Frank Baum’s story of Dorothy and her dog, Toto, who are whisked away by a tornado to a fantasyland where they befriend a Scarecrow, a Tin Woodman and a Cowardly Lion. In charming fashion, they help one another overcome their fears and achieve their dreams. This map traces the surprising origins of the tale that has become such a beloved pop-cultural icon. Start reading >>

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Includes: “You’re Another” • The Year of the Sex OlympicsNetworkThe Real World

Reality television is widely considered the nadir of modern entertainment, but its seeds were planted by such revered cultural icons as Andy Warhol, Paddy Chayefsky and George Orwell. Of course, most of the visionary examples are works meant to warn us against our worst vices—not the least, a prurient interest in the banal lives of others. Here, we take a look at what happens when those fictional imaginings start getting real. Start reading >>

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Includes: Candide • Optimism • Nutty Professors • Gottfried Leibniz

Why do bad things happen to innocent people? Countless thinkers and theologians have wrestled with this conundrum throughout history. But although it may be impossible to justify the suffering of innocents, their ill fortune can, perversely, make for highly amusing storytelling. This map looks at the sometimes maligned philosophy of optimism as it occurs in chefs d’oeuvre like Voltaire’s Candide and Charles M. Schulz’s Peanuts. Start reading >>

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Includes: George Orwell • Charles Dickens • The Road to Wigan PierDown and Out in Paris and London

His fellow writer Arthur Koestler praised George Orwell’s “uncompromising intellectual honesty,” and for much of his life Orwell played the role of societal conscience. A fly in the ointment, he relentlessly buzzed hard truths his contemporaries didn’t want to hear. This map places Orwell in context with social-reforming Victorian novelist Charles Dickens, who inspired his unflinching cultural critiques, and shows how Orwell’s polemics in turn inspired the social critics of our time. Start reading >>

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Includes: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz • Oz Adaptations • The Wizard of Oz • Judy Garland

Everyone knew MGM’s film version of The Wizard of Oz was something special in 1939. The studio optimistically thought the movie might have a fairly long life—at least 10 years! More than 70 years and countless TV broadcasts later, it is one of the most popular and enduring films ever made. As Hollywood continues to roll out Oz adaptations—such as Disney’s 2013 Oz the Great and Powerful—this map investigates their Technicolor archetype.

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Includes: The Perks of Being a WallflowerThe Catcher in the RyeThis Side of ParadiseOn the Road

The 2012 movie adaptation of Stephen Chbosky’s 1999 novel The Perks of Being a Wallflower stars Logan Lerman as Charlie, the teenage wallflower; Emma Watson as Sam, the object of his infatuation; and Paul Rudd as Charlie’s English teacher, Bill. Here we look at some of the works of literature Bill assigns to Charlie and how they connect to each other, to Chbosky’s novel and to the quintessential teen-angst television melodrama, My So-Called Life. Start reading >>

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Includes: Life of PiThe Divine Comedy • Christianity and Islam • Cannibalism

Stranded in a lifeboat on the Pacific Ocean with a Bengal tiger, 16-year-old Piscine Molitor “Pi” Patel draws upon his religious eclecticism—he is Hindu, Christian and Muslim—to maintain the faith and focus necessary for survival. But Pi’s story does not take a straightforward path. The basis for the Oscar-winning film, Yann Martel’s book evokes Dante Alighieri, Ernest Hemingway and Edgar Allan Poe, while examining how good and evil operate under extreme conditions. Start reading >>

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Includes: Shirley Temple • Beasts of the Southern WildMoonrise Kingdom • Dorothy Gale

The “silly wench,” the “sly minx,” the “coy baggage”: British magazine The Academy rationalized these stereotypes in the 1899 article “Classification of Women.” Seemingly unwilling to relinquish such categories, a 1936 New York Times review dismissed even irrepressible child star Shirley Temple as “a clever little baggage when she is kept in her place.” Fortunately, times have changed. Girls today are frequently cast in roles of real character that earn our respect.

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Includes: Pablo Neruda • Rubén Darío • Love in the Time of Cholera • Roberto Bolaño

Every literary school endures a little squabbling and the occasional feud, but poets in the Latin American schools faced a full-blown oedipal rivalry. Specifically, some considered Nobel laureate Pablo Neruda a patriarch of the previous generation, while others saw him as a hypocritical Stalinist who peddled empty rhetoric. Is it part of the artistic temperament to disrespect one’s elders? Or did a century of solitude and political upheaval make this group more mercurial than most?

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Includes: “Health Is in You!” • The Weather Underground • Mikhail Bakunin • The White Panther Party

From 19th-century Russian anarchist Mikhail Bakunin to today’s hacktivist collective Anonymous, political and social radicals have endorsed “propaganda by the deed”—the promotion of disruptive, often violent, acts for their power to draw attention to a cause. This map follows the anarchic revolutionary spirit from Franco-era Spain to 1960s America to the World Wide Web, looking at the range of propaganda employed, from high-energy rock music to free love to precisely targeted homemade bombs.

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Includes: Oxford Comma • Abusing Apostrophe’s • Emily Dickinson’s Dashes • Emot:(ons

Tired of all those little marks—smileys, winkies and hugs ’n’ kisses—that simplify communication while simultaneously cluttering it up? This map gives you ammunition against overusers of exclamation points, abusers of apostrophes, misusers of dashes and all those people—including, undoubtedly, some of your BFFs—who insist on tagging every sentence with an emoticon. Start reading >>

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Includes: Social Media • Occupy Wall Street • Slacktivism • The Social Network

“The whole world is watching!” chanted demonstrators outside the 1968 Democratic National Convention as TV cameras recorded Chicago police officers beating and arresting them. Forty-plus years later, the whole world isn’t just watching—it’s Facebooking, tweeting and posting smartphone videos (and those old Chicago riot news clips) on YouTube. And protesters worldwide are using those and other social media to organize revolutions and disseminate information about what they’re doing—and what’s being done to them. Start reading >>

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Includes: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo • Stieg Larsson • Henning Mankell • David Fincher

Dynamite, the centigrade scale, IKEA, the safety match—now we must add dark, socially engaged crime fiction to the list of Swedish accomplishments that have had a global impact. Stieg Larsson’s best-selling Millennium trilogy is definitive Swedish noir. Our look at the first installment, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, and its progress to the world stage includes a handful of real-life characters who might have walked right out of the pages of Larsson’s fiction. Start reading >>

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Includes: Elizabeth I • Victoria and Albert • Prince Rainier and Grace Kelly • Charles and Diana

We get up in the predawn hours to watch princes and princesses-to-be exchange vows, we follow the ups and downs of royal unions in the tabloids, and we even tune in to see Kim Kardashian, the queen of reality TV, mouth an insincere “I do.” It has been said that everyone loves a wedding—all the better if it involves sovereigns, even more so if it’s peppered with a bit of juicy gossip. Start reading >>

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Includes: The DictatorThe Great Dictator • Fiction by Dictators • Propaganda Films

Satirist Sacha Baron Cohen likes to mess with people’s heads. In 2012 the creator of the controversial films Ali G. Indahouse, Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan and Brüno released The Dictator, loosely based on Zabiba and the King, a propagandist novel by Saddam Hussein. This map explores the reach of modern propaganda—as art, entertainment and weapon of mass destruction. Start reading >>

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Includes: Yuri Gagarin • John F. Kennedy • NASA Space Shuttle Program • International Space Station

Less than two generations ago, space travel was the stuff of sci-fi pulp, comic books and B movies. But with the 1960s American-Soviet rivalry, earthlings launched themselves headfirst into the space age. Today, as funding runs out and life on Mars remains undiscovered, outer space is more up for grabs than ever. This map tracks the space race over the past five decades and looks at the future of life on the final frontier.

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Includes: Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter • Edgar Allan Poe • Tim Burton • Team of Rivals

America’s favorite president and America’s favorite monster came together at last on the big screen in 2012, with the adaptation of Seth Grahame-Smith’s historical horror mash-up Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. This CultureMap outlines the inspirations and the big names behind the novel and the film, while marking the relationships between Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter and other heavy hitters in the contemporary vampire craze. Start reading >>

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Includes: Art Clokey • Mad Monster Party?The PJsThe Neverhood

In the mid-20th century, clay animation became synonymous with the work of Art Clokey, the pioneer behind children’s TV characters like the happy-go-lucky Gumby as well as pious Davey and his talking dog, Goliath. But the clay monsters rampaging across drive-in movie screens proved stop-motion animation could have a dark side. This map traces this herky-jerky tradition all the way to Doug TenNapel’s video game The Neverhood and the head-rolling, teeth-gnashing creations of Tim Burton. Start reading >>

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Includes: Food, Inc.In Defense of FoodThe Soil and Health • Nutritionism

Around the world, mealtime traditions are closely tied to cultural identity. We polyglot Americans are all over the map, associated with everything from our grandmother’s cooking to microwave dinners, from local produce to fast food. Since the 1970s, when diet became the focus of government agencies, medical researchers and manufacturers, we have gotten fatter and sicker. Today many Americans are returning to traditional ways of eating, finding the future of food in the past. Start reading >>

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Includes: James Thurber • The New Yorker • The Marx Brothers • Salvador Dalí

Often placed alongside Mark Twain in the pantheon of American humorists, James Thurber (“The Secret Life of Walter Mitty,” Is Sex Necessary?) is perhaps worthy of his own surreal category. This map links Thurber to a few other artists with unique perspectives—including Salvador Dalí, Lewis Carroll, the Marx Brothers and John Lennon—to describe his wide circle of influence and remind readers that his signature silliness is ridiculously timeless.

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Includes: Downton AbbeyJeeves and WoosterGosford ParkJane Eyre

If you’re a 99-percenter who wasn’t to the manner born, upstairs-downstairs fiction can bear you to the manor, at least in your imagination. Phenomenally popular Downton Abbey proves the genre’s perennial appeal, setting servants against masters while bringing them together via sex and other means. British country houses are archetypal battlegrounds for class love-and-warfare, although it also occurs in London townhouses (Upstairs, Downstairs) and even—more gently if less genteelly—on Long Island estates (Sabrina).

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Includes: Tourette Syndrome • Malleus Maleficarum • Samuel Johnson • Motherless Brooklyn

For many, Tourette syndrome is synonymous with spastic yelling and expletives. But beneath this reductive, albeit often humorous, stereotype, Tourette’s tells a more complex, sympathetic and sometimes beautiful story of social outcasts burdened with the gift of compulsive expression. From demon possession to cable television, this map explores some key instances of Tourette’s in popular culture and what our relationship with the neurological disorder reveals. Start reading >>

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Includes: Cloud AtlasGods Without MenThe Crying of Lot 49The Time Machine

Writers of some of the most intriguing contemporary literary fiction are dispensing with traditional narrative modes to fashion works that are geographically dispersed and temporally disjointed, and that exploit multiple storytelling techniques. Novelist and critic Douglas Coupland calls this new, boundary-crashing genre “translit.” But translit—exemplified by David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas and Hari Kunzru’s Gods Without Men—has roots in earlier literary invention, as this map reveals. Start reading >>

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Includes: Treme • Trombone Shorty • Yat Dialect • When the Levees Broke

The HBO series Treme takes its name from a neighborhood adjacent to the French Quarter, but its canvas extends to every corner of NOLA (New Orleans, Louisiana) in the months following Hurricane Katrina, which struck on August 29, 2005. The program movingly communicates the nearly inexpressible hardship all New Orleanians endured, but its underlying drama centers on the hard-won survival of New Orleans culture in Katrina’s aftermath. This map elucidates some of those cultural connections. Start reading >>

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Includes: Obesity • McDonald’s • Michelle Obama • Oprah Winfrey

Gaining and losing weight is an American obsession. The first lady, actors and other celebrities gleefully advise us on how best to lose weight, and if you’re honest, you’ll admit your own waistline isn’t the only one that concerns you. As much as we worry about our extra poundage, we love following the triumphs and failures of fellow fat fighters. Weight loss is usually healthful, but it’s also prime entertainment and big business. Start reading >>

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Includes: Sid Caesar • Milton Berle • Steve Allen • The Tonight Show

“Stop me if you’ve heard this one.…” Decades before YouTube videos, Netflix queues and the world of “watch instantly,” Americans looked only to their TV sets for an hour of entertainment that might provide a little something for everyone. More often than not, this came in the form of the variety show—an extravaganza of comedy sketches, songs, interviews, stunts and witty repartee, featuring an array of entertainers as versatile as the shows themselves. Start reading >>

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Includes: Gandhi • Hinduism • PETA • The Beatles

Almost everyone aspires to cruelty-free eating at some point in their life. But while many make the omnivore’s compromise and seek out humane and cage-free alternatives to feedlots and factory farming, an increasing number have gone whole hog and adopted a lifelong commitment to vegetarianism—or even veganism. As bacon finally jumps the shark and the cost of meat, well, mushrooms, this is the dawning of a new age of vegetarianism. Start reading >>

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Includes: Jules Verne • 20,000 Leagues Under the SeaJourney to the Center of the Earth20,000 Leagues Under the Sea

Jules Verne’s most celebrated novel, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea chronicles the voyage of Professor Aronnax, a naturalist, with his unflappable servant Conseil and the macho harpooner Ned Land, aboard the Nautilus, a radically advanced submarine. The vessel’s commander is the mysterious Captain Nemo, whose love for scientific discovery is complicated by his thirst for revenge. This map uses the novel to explore Verne’s pop-culture legacy and some versions of Verne himself.

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Includes: Walter Mitty • Walter Mitty Syndrome • Jean Shepherd • Play It Again, Sam

James Thurber’s 1939 story “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” follows a quiet daydreamer from the mundane to the fantastic and back. Mitty imagines himself in heroic adventures—as commander of a hydroplane, a quick-thinking surgeon, “the greatest pistol shot in the world”—only to snap back to reality, where his wife, a cop or a bag of puppy biscuits is always waiting, unimpressed. This map suggests there may be some Walter Mitty in everyone.

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Includes: WeedsSavagesTraffic2666

Globalization promised to make us “postnational” and render obsolete such arbitrary lines as borders. But since 1994’s North American Free Trade Agreement, boundaries—particularly the one between the U.S. and Mexico—have never been more contentious. On either side of the “weed meridian” that hugs the Rio Grande lurk transgressive border towns and perpetual conflict, sometimes ridiculous and sometimes appallingly gruesome. After all the smoke clears, where is the line separating paranoia from the giggles? Start reading >>

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Includes: Paramahansa Yogananda • Ancient India • Bikram Choudhury • Yoga, Inc.

Over the past century, yoga has made a radical shift in the U.S.—from an obscure religious practice to a $6 billion-a-year industry. The biggest player in this transformation, Bikram Choudhury, is also the most controversial. Choudhury is a yoga pirate, someone who copyrights ancient yoga routines to prevent others’ using them. It raises the question: Can someone own yoga? In America, the modern yoga code of ethics is up for grabs. Start reading >>

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Includes: The Wild Bunch • Man With No Name Trilogy • UnforgivenEl Topo

Despair, detachment, violence: Welcome to the anti-Western, the genre that inverted the classic Hollywood Western, with its clearly drawn lines of right and wrong, good and evil, white hat versus black. The blood-drenched Man With No Name films that made Clint Eastwood famous, along with The Wild Bunch, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and the Western-style gangster movie Bonnie and Clyde, had 1960s audiences cheering for the bad guys and reveling in the gore. Start reading >>

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Includes: Maurice Sendak • FantasiaWhere the Wild Things Are • Bruno Bettelheim

Although just 10 sentences long, Where the Wild Things Are, the story of tantrum-throwing Max and his fantastic journey to a land of strange creatures, has mesmerized generations of readers. Its dark colors, apparent amorality and angry protagonist initially drew suspicion but are now celebrated as keys to its compelling beauty. What inspired Maurice Sendak’s vision, and where has it led? This map traces some of the book’s influences and its lasting legacy. Start reading >>

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Includes: William McKinley • 1896 U.S. Presidential Election • The Gold Standard • Wall Street Crash of 1929

Since its inception in the 1850s, the Republican Party (a.k.a. the Grand Old Party, or GOP) has periodically shifted its alignment between the privileged and working classes. Whatever the party line, Republicans’ relationship with the gold standard has remained a barometer for their party’s stock price. From McKinley’s Gold Standard Act of 1900 to Nixon’s unilateral abandonment of the standard in 1971, this map explores U.S. monetary policy and its effect on Republican success.

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Includes: The Olympics • Steroids • Ashrita Furman • Race Across America

In a world governed by survival of the fittest, competition is hardwired into our DNA. For millennia we have battled not only for resources, but against nature and our own bodies for the prize of greatness. But in the age of reality TV, steroid scandals and extreme endurance races, competition seems a little contrived. As William Faulkner put it, “Victory is an illusion of philosophers and fools.” This map asks, What is winning, anyway?

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Includes: Cowboys & AliensMen in BlackWild Wild WestIndependence Day

Following the breakout success of 1996’s Independence Day, sci-fi spectacles invaded the American cinematic atmosphere like hovering alien motherships, and Will Smith emerged as a surefire box-office draw, making star turns in such gadget-geared fare as Men in Black and Wild Wild West. Meanwhile, outright romps such as Starship Troopers turned the tables on the genre. “Wisecracks From Way Out” looks at six movies that appeal to the fanatic as well as the smart aleck.

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Includes: Treasure Island • Robert Louis Stevenson • J.M. Barrie • Peter Pan

Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island launched the hallmarks that have come to define the literature of golden-age pirates: X-marks-the-spot treasure maps, Caribbean caches of plunder, rogue seamen chanting “Yo-ho-ho” and peg-legged quartermasters with shoulder-perched parrots. Historical pirates, of course, were rarely as amiable as Long John Silver, and few amassed fortunes like Captain Flint’s, but Stevenson’s salty tale provides all the mugs of rum and golden doubloons readers could wish for. Start reading >>

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Includes: Stax Records • Philly Sound • Motown • Southern Soul

In the 1960s and ’70s, soul was a defining force in American music. The Northern industrial cities of Detroit and Philadelphia perfected the studio sound we’ve come to associate with Motown, while Stax Records introduced the world to Southern soul. As labels battled for radio dominance, marquee stars and session musicians were likewise up for grabs. This map explores soul’s early progression and its resurgence in recent years via reissue labels such as Numero.

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Includes: The Temptations • Touring • Pink Floyd • Syd Barrett

The Temptations, Pink Floyd, Genesis and the Beatles—just to name a few—are all bands that either kicked out or lost an original member right before skyrocketing to fame. Would any of these groups have been as successful if their original members had stuck around? It’s hard to say, but rock-and-roll lore certainly would be missing some legendary drama. Start reading >>

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Includes: George A. Romero • I Am Legend28 Days Later • Zombie Video Games

Director George A. Romero introduced the world to the zombie apocalypse more than four decades ago, and today the shambling, flesh-eating dead have overtaken vampires, werewolves and homicidal psychopaths as our favorite frightful creatures. This map explores epidemics of hungry zombies as they have infected a variety of media, including film, television, video games and even government-produced public service announcements—demanding brains, braaaaiiins! Start reading >>

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