The Atlantic May 2021 Issue: The Commons

A Year of Remote Magazine Making

The May 2020 Atlantic was the last issue our staff started working on in person, and the first we finished remotely. (Appropriately, the cover story was about anxiety.) An eventful year has passed, one we’ve tried our best to cover with depth and clarity. For now, we continue to produce the magazine from our respective homes and see copies for the first time when they arrive in our mailboxes. (To me, at least, they feel like presents.) We hope you enjoy the May 2021 issue, and that you’ve found the magazine to be a useful guide to the past year—and sometimes a distraction from it.

Don Peck, Magazine Editor

The Facts

What we learned fact-checking this issue

In her essay on female directors who are reimagining the Western, Jordan Kisner writes about High Noon (1952), in which a town marshal (Gary Cooper) tries and fails to rally locals to help him confront an outlaw. Now considered a classic, the film drew criticism in Hollywood. John Wayne pressured Cooper to cut ties with its screenwriter, who had been under congressional investigation for Communist affiliation. Wayne later called the film “un-American.”

Howard Hawks made the movie Rio Bravo (1959) as a direct response to High Noon, casting Wayne as a stoic male lead who has to have help thrust upon him. But High Noon was the real hit; it earned four Oscars, including one for Best Actor. Ironically, Wayne accepted the award on Cooper’s behalf (Cooper was filming another feature). Wayne joked that he should find his agent and business manager and “run my 1930s Chevrolet into one of their big black new Cadillacs” for failing to get him the role.

Stephanie Hayes, Deputy Research Chief

Behind the Art

For David Treuer’s cover story, “Return the National Parks to the Tribes,” Katy Grannan photographed 37 members of the Blackfeet Nation in Montana. Grannan spent 10 days shooting on the Blackfeet Reservation, which abuts Glacier National Park. She traveled in a four- wheel-drive Ford van along icy roads, through snowbanks, mud, and wind. The park, and the policies that created it, play a huge role in the everyday lives of tribal members. Above, Grannan’s assistant Skylar Economy encounters a rare white bison on a reservation ranch.

Luise Stauss, Director of Photography
Christine Walsh, Contributing Photo Editor


Because of an error in exhibition materials, “Creativity in Confinement” (March) originally said that Ojore Lutalo had access to a photocopier while in solitary confinement. In fact, Lutalo had access to photocopied documents. Because of an editing error, “The Internet Doesn’t Have to Be Awful” (April) stated that a quotation from Tristan Harris was from an interview with the authors. In fact, Harris wrote it in a recent essay. That article also stated that the Volksempfänger radio was transistor-based. In fact, it was tube-based.


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