How did the 2016 Presidential-primary debates become insult-laden, substance-free shouting contests? Jill Lepore explores the history of debate broadcasts and wonders what we might expect from the three Clinton-Trump showdowns. Colson Whitehead then tours two stops on the Underground Railroad and discusses his new novel about American slavery. The classical-music critic Alex Ross shares his favorite cultural works of the moment — including a “Finnegans Wake” Twitter account. Plus, Sharon Horgan, the creator of the TV shows Divorce and Catastrophe, speaks with David Remnick about society’s changing attitudes toward marriage. And the comedian Chris Gethard tells us about his smartphone’s extraordinary features.
Illustration by Ping Zhu