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The New Crisis of Democracy
Capitalism and Inequality
What the Right and the Left Get Wrong
Why a Founding Father of Postwar Capitalism Spied for the Soviets
A Conversation With Stanley McChrystal
The Rise of Big Data
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The Road to D-Day
Behind the Battle That Won the War
How Jewish Extremism Threatens Zionism
Who Is Ali Khamenei?
The Worldview of Iran’s Supreme Leader
Biology's Brave New World
The Promise and Perils of the Synbio Revolution
Google's Original X-Man
A Conversation With Sebastian Thrun
Making Sense of Mali
The Real Stakes of the War Rocking West Africa
Saving the Euro, Dividing the Union
Could Europe's Deeper Integration Push the United Kingdom Out?
The Real Reason Putin Supports Assad
Mistaking Syria for Chechnya
How Iran Won the War on Drugs
Lessons for Fighting the Afghan Narcotics Trade
The Egyptian State Unravels
Meet the Gangs and Vigilantes Who Thrive Under Morsi
Even Good Coups Are Bad
Lessons for Egypt from the Philippines, Venezuela, and Beyond
How Yemen Chewed Itself Dry
Farming Qat, Wasting Water
The Arab Sunset
The Coming Collapse of the Gulf Monarchies
Where Have All the Workers Gone?
China's Labor Shortage and the End of the Panda Boom
Love in the Time of Bollywood
India's Strained Romance Revolution
A killing frost struck the United Kingdom in the middle of May 1944, stunting the plum trees and the berry crops. Stranger still was a persistent drought. Hotels posted admonitions above their bathtubs: “The Eighth Army crossed the desert on a pint a day. Three inches only, please.” British newspapers reported that even King George VI kept “quite clean with one bath a week in a tub filled only to a line which he had painted on it.” Gale winds from the north grounded most Allied bombers flying from East Anglia and the Midlands, although occasional fleets of Boeing Flying Fortresses could still be seen sweeping toward the continent, their contrails spreading like ostrich plumes.
Nearly five years of war had left British cities as “bedraggled, unkempt and neglected as rotten teeth,” according to one visitor from the United States, who found that “people referred to ‘before the war’ as if it were a place, not a time.” The country was steeped in heavy smells, of old smoke and cheap coal and fatigue. Wildflowers took root in bombed-out lots from Birmingham to Plymouth. Less bucolic were the millions of rats swarming through 3,000 miles of London sewers; exterminators scattered 60 tons of sausage poisoned with zinc phosphate and stale bread dipped in barium carbonate.
Privation lay on the land like another odor. The British government allowed men to buy a new shirt every 20 months. Housewives twisted pipe cleaners into hair clips. Iron railings and grillwork had long been scrapped for the war effort; even cemeteries stood unfenced. Few shoppers could find a fountain pen or a wedding ring, or bed sheets, vegetable peelers, or shoelaces. Posters discouraged profligacy with depictions of the Squander Bug, a cartoon rodent with swastika-shaped pockmarks. Classified advertisements included pleas in The Times of London for “unwanted artificial teeth” and for cash donations to help wounded Russian warhorses. An ad for Chez-Vous household services promised “bombed upholstery and carpets cleaned.”
Government placards advised, “Food is a munition. Don’t waste
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