Slate’s weekly roundup: What Will Dobson read about polite protests, Homeland, and the self-made man.

Will Dobson on What You Should Read From Slate This Week

Will Dobson on What You Should Read From Slate This Week

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Oct. 3 2014 11:09 AM

What Happened at Slate This Week?

Will Dobson recaps the week from his shiny new desk.

Illustration by Charlie Powell.

Illustration by Charlie Powell

Hi, Slate Plus members! Fancy meeting you here.

I’m Will Dobson, Slate’s politics and foreign affairs editor—a brief without borders. Most of my time is spent editing a rock-star stable of Slate reporters, including Dickerson, Bouie, Saletan, Voorhees, Kaplan, Applebaum, and vintage, pre-corporate Weigel. I also oversee our Roads & Kingdoms series and commission far-flung correspondents to round out our foreign coverage from the hot spots of the day. I once edited a story about a welfare queen and the first account of life in Guantánamo by someone still imprisoned there. Probably the only thing you need to know about me is that I won the arm-wrestling contest for Plotz’s office. (Like Plotz, it cleans up nicely.) I also wrote a book about modern-day dictatorships and the people who challenge them—which was immensely useful research for landing Plotz’s office.

William  J.  Dobson William J. Dobson

William J. Dobson is Slate’s Washington bureau chief and the author of The Dictator’s Learning Curve: Inside the Global Battle for Democracy.

Let’s start with the headlines. The big news of the week—besides the fact that Putin probably has a much better security detail than Obama—was out of Hong Kong. I turned to Srdja Popovic and Tori Porell to explain why this city’s protesters—perhaps the politest rabble-rousers the world has ever seen—are such formidable opponents for Beijing. Popovic knows a little bit about toppling dictators, since he helped bring down Slobodan Milosevic and now leads an organization that has trained nonviolent democratic movements in more than 50 countries.

The funniest piece we published this week was actually hatched by Dickerson a couple of weeks ago while we were enjoying the cool September nights at Slate’s annual Catskills retreat. But if it was John’s idea, it was Slate’s video team—specifically Olivia Merrion and Ayana Morali—who made it happen.

Elsewhere in our politics coverage, Dickerson got inside Romney’s head—insert joke here, then let Evil Kois strike it—and dispensed advice to Democrats trying to figure out how to distance themselves from Obama’s foreign policy woes. Bouie explained why Gov. Sam Brownback’s crazy conservative experiments in Kansas could spell trouble for the GOP, and William Saletan—in perhaps our smartest piece of the week—demonstrated the near-lock-step unity with which Republican candidates are abandoning the social-issue debates they once craved.

The piece that gave me the most hope came from Willa Paskin. She says it’s safe to let Homeland back into our lives again. (OK, she said maybe, but that’s not what I read.) She better be right.

But if there is anything you really don’t want to miss this week it is John Swansburg’s The Self-Made Man—his amazingly beautiful exploration of this bedrock tenet of American identity and how a series of men (and one woman) fashioned this myth out of the circumstances of their day. But I’ll let Swansburg tell you the rest; he does it so well.

Thanks for reading—and being a Slate Plus member!