Tales from the American West are marked by heroism, romance and plenty of cruelty. Among those stories, the saga of the Donner Party stands alone — a band of pioneers set out in covered wagons for California, and eventually, stranded, snowbound and starving, resorted to cannibalism.
Oliver Stone's new film Savages is a violent thriller starring Taylor Kitsch and Aaron Johnson as pot growers caught up in a Mexican drug war. Critic David Edelstein says the movie is deeper and more complicated than Stone's famously bloody Natural Born Killers.
In California, lawyers are two weeks into a landmark federal court case challenging California's Proposition 8, which bans same-sex marriage in that state. Margaret Talbot has been blogging about the trial for The New Yorker's Web site, and she has written about it in this week's issue of the magazine. A veteran journalist and a senior fellow at the New America Foundation, Talbot writes about family life, women's work, children's culture, and politics and moral debates as they intersect with science and law.