The Burning of the Houses of Lords and Commons, October 16, 1834, by Joseph Mallord William Turner, c. 1835. © The Philadelphia Museum of Art / Art Resource.


Volume IX, Number 2 | spring 2016


The first known legal use of the phrase act of God was in a 1581 English case concerning property inheritance. It referred, in that instance, to death, declared by the judge to be among “those things which are inevitable by the act of God, which no industry can avoid, nor policy prevent.”

It’s the end of the world every day, for someone.

—Margaret Atwood, 2000


The World in Time

Olivier Zunz

Lewis H. Lapham speaks with the author of The Man Who Understood Democracy: The Life of Alexis de Tocqueville. More