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The Doomsday Click

Download the PDF How easily could a hacker bring the world to a standstill?
by Michael Specter

Like at least several hundred thousand other people around the world, I found a surprise waiting in my E-mail on February 12th. I was in Southern California, and when I turned on my laptop there was a promising message from my wife, who was in Rome. Read more »

The Outlaw Doctor

Download the PDF Cancer researchers used to call him a fraud. What's changed?
by Michael Specter

Nicholas Gonzalez, part Mexican, part Italian, all American, and very ambitious, grew up in Queens, attended New York City public schools, and graduated, Phi Beta Kappa and magna cum laude, from Brown University in 1970, where he majored in English literature. Read more »

Letter from London: The Blunderdome

Download the PDF How could any one building have produced such hostility?

Throughout the month of December, the people of Britain were bombarded by a radio advertisement that made light of what many consider to have been the country's most embarrassing failure in years. "When your kids ask you one day what the Millennium Experience at the Dome was like, what will you tell them?'' a gentle voice began, its echo of Churchill invoking memories of the nation's finest hour. "So what was it like, Dad?" a child asks. Read more »

Eduard Shevardnadze is a Western hero.

Download the PDF What's gone wrong in his own country?
by Michael Specter

Late on the afternoon of August 29, 1995, Eduard A. Shevardnadze, the Georgian head of state, walked out of the Parliament Building, in the capital city of Tbilisi, and climbed into the back seat of his car for a long-awaited ride. Read more »

No Place to Hide

Download the PDF Why a satellite system may mean that we will never get lost again.
by Michael Specter

I recently bought a compass that slips over the band of my wristwatch. It's the size of a dime, cost less than ten dollars, and was designed for people who ride mountain bikes into the wilderness. I don't own a mountain bike, but I do own many compasses. Read more »

Book Review: “Midnight Diaries” by Boris Yeltsin

Reviewied by Michael Specter

By the last days of the last millennium, there was very little left that Boris Yeltsin could do to astonish the people of Russia. He had embraced more than a half-dozen prime ministers and scores of senior aides during his decade of power — only to toss them one by one from the Kremlin bell tower. In 1991, when he stood on the top of a tank to stare down a coup, his impulsiveness was heroic. Two years later, when he shelled a mutinous parliament into submission, it still seemed understandable. Read more »

Rag Trade

Rush hour for Gucci
by Michael Specter

Milan is governed more completely by fashion than it has been by any other ruler since the Emperor Hadrian. Even so, there is something particularly excessive about the place when the men's collections are unveiled, at the end of June. Read more »

Search and Deploy

Download the PDF The race to build a better search engine.
by Michael Specter

It's not easy to impress the people who fly into Scottsdale, Arizona, each spring to attend the annual PC Forum. The event, organized by the Internet impresario Esther Dyson, is held at a resort near the foot of the McDowell Mountains, and it has become a sort of digital Renaissance Weekend. Read more »

The Pharmageddon Riddle

Download the PDF Did Monsanto just want more profits, or did it want to save the world?
by Michael Specter

Each fall, the environmental group Greenpeace holds a conference, in an effort to make its priorities as clear to corporate executives and investors as they are to its two and a half million members. Read more »

A High-Heel Heaven

Download the PDF A visit to the madcap world of Manolo Blahnik
by Michael Specter

The first thing I noticed when I entered the two-hundred-year-old town house in Bath that serves as Manolo Blahnik's weekend retreat was the alligator. About three and a half feet long, with olive-brown skin and black hatch marks flecking its body, it was sprawled imperiously across a Queen Anne table at the end of the foyer. The jaws were parted, and the teeth shimmered in the fading light. Read more »