After two years and 17 weeks as an infantryman, Chris Bray emerged from his barracks in Fort Benning, Georgia, to write this issue's cover story, which begins on page 22. "The Media and GI Joe" documents a revolution in the armed forces—and the media's near-total ignorance of it. Bray, a 33-year-old Los Angeles native, enlisted expressly so that he could write authoritatively about military issues. "I felt obligated," he explains, noting a growing disconnect between soldiers and the country they serve. "So I rolled up my sleeves and packed a suitcase full of notebooks." A former local news reporter, Bray is now studying history at Pitzer College.

After 22 years, Joanne Jacobs left the San Jose Mercury News to do what most would dread: She went back to high school. In this issue, she offers "Threatened by Success" (page 38), which describes the vicious turf war between San Francisco's Edison Charter Academy and the local school board. Her book-in-progress, Start-Up High, documents another charter school, San Jose's fledgling Downtown College Prep, where she's volunteered since January 2001. Says Jacobs, "There are times when it drives you nuts to see how weak the students are after years in schools that couldn't meet their needs." She frequently discusses education in her feisty weblog,

"I'm a high-school dropout," says Chris Lehmann, who tears into two new books that aim to soothe parents living in mortal terror of their teenaged progeny. (See "Teen-Demon Tracts," page 52.) Lehmann isn't a parent himself—perhaps in part because he remembers all too well his own rebellious, antisocial adolescence in Davenport, Iowa. Now 40, married, and working as a senior editor at The Washington Post Book World, Lehmann appears to have turned out OK, no doubt to his parents' and teachers' astonishment. He has written for a long roster of publications that includes The Baffler, The Atlantic Monthly, Harper's, Newsday, In These Times, and the San Francisco Examiner.