Two new books offer contrasting explanations for why some countries fail to develop: one blames culture, the other trade liberalisation. Though both analyses are flawed, neither can be dismissed. Attitudes in poor countries often do need to change, while protectionism can play a role in helping Africa to industrialise
Novelists have always turned their hands to essays, and the essay-writing novelist remains a literary force to be reckoned with. The two forms share an inherent pluralism and scepticism that makes them natural allies of democracy
The story of Gordon Brown's tax credits policy is a mixed one. Billions have been directed to the low-paid, helping to take the edge off rising inequality. But the failure of the policy's architects to consider its real-world application has impeded successful delivery
With Fidel Castro apparently on the verge of death, I returned to Cuba to visit old friends. Little has changed over recent years and life for most Cubans remains harsh. Yet western visitors continue to romanticise the place
What turned Mohammad Sidique Khan, a softly spoken youth worker, into the mastermind of 7/7?
Prospect's Thomas Pynchon correspondent is battling his way through "Against the Day"—and recording the experience
The anthropologist Mary Douglas, who has died aged 86, produced a framework for understanding society that should be part of the mental furniture of every educated adult
Edward Luttwak is right that the middle east is not important enough to fight over. That's why the US should withdraw from Iraq and stop providing aid to Israel
Stephen Oppenheimer responds to readers' questions and comments on his October 2006 article on British ancestry
Prospect's editorial blog is now live, and you can read it here
Last week the Islamic scholar and reformer Tariq Ramadan argued in the Guardian for an end to calls on British Muslims to integrate. Here, Prospect editor David Goodhart replies
Paul Collier's review of my book failed to take into account the disastrous effect on developing countries of following the advice of the IMF and World Bank
Antony Gormley's Hayward exhibition stimulates the mind and senses—and may even provide a refutation of artificial intelligence
What can psychological research tell us about why some people turn to violent extremism?
For 50 years, the children of Irish immigrants have been the most important innovators in England's popular culture
Tony Blair's departure leaves much constitutional business unresolved. It's up to Gordon Brown to finish the job
Paul Ormerod is splitting hairs over methodology. People want to be happy, and politicians should try to help
The belief that those who have lived in a community longest should have housing priority isn't racist
Universal grammar is the most important theory in linguistics. Has the language of one tribe now disproved it?
John Browne turned BP into the oil industry's leanest machine, but his cost-cutting now looks like a liability
Technology is not yet changing our reading habits. But the electronic book, the rise of the online retailer, the blog and the print-on-demand book all provide real challenges for booksellers and publishers, and some may not survive. Still, the future of the book itself looks bright
Don DeLillo, an undoubted master, has a gift for creating an atmosphere of inchoate dread. Yet his latest novel feels flat and static and lacks a sense of purpose. At least it has a superb ending
Mark Cousins looks at Danny Boyle's varied and innovative career
Hard-headed and surprisingly right wing, Lionel Shriver does not fit the conventional image of a novelist. Her latest work is a subtle examination of the difficulties of decision-making.
The individualism and universalism of western political elites are on a collision course with the popular desire for moorings in time and place. The nation state cannot be replaced by global norms
The work and public images of Tracey Emin, Sophie Calle and Isa Genzken conform eerily to national stereotype. Which of these artists will become Miss Venice biennale 2007?
Cormac McCarthy's dislike of publicity has made him one of the commanding absences of American letters. But the huge success of his latest novel, The Road, may change that for good
The Apprentice is an absurd caricature of the business world. Why is the BBC so sure the public aren't interested in programmes that enlighten rather than just entertain?
My husband died a national hero, exalted by the president. But I know them both for worthless dogs
Belfast has changed beyond all recognition since the IRA ceasefire. But if you come here for a stag or hen night, leave your novelty water pistol at home
Barack Obama is winning the tussle for top Dem foreign policy strategists, but the party's old farts may yet help Hillary triumph. Plus, bizarre dynamics of the primaries
China's stock markets are experiencing a classic speculative frenzy which may lead to a massive crash. And is the spectre of inflation returning to Britain?
False pregnancy syndrome is a surprisingly common condition. Now, with a minor epidemic on the ward, it seems that even doctors may not be immune
Unlike his predecessors, Nicolas Sarkozy takes a practical approach to politics. Unfortunately, this seems to mean mythifying the French nation and rewriting history
Iraqis are indignant about the wall being built around Baghdad's Adhamiya area, site of the Sunni insurgency. But the US is right to proceed; it will save Sunni and Shia lives
The only use of the Large Hadron Collider anyone cares about is finding the Higgs particle. But the LHC's opening has been delayed. What if someone else gets there first?
How well will the new French president get on with the new British prime minister? The British ambassador to the EU isn't going to hang around to find out
Holidays are about becoming enchanted by short-term habits. Noises don't annoy us, and even bus timetables seem fascinating. But then we return, and the spell is broken