Dan Balz, one of the nation's most respected political reporters, has written his review of the last presidential election — what happened and why.
It's called Collision 2012: Obama vs. Romney and the Future of Elections in America.
The chief correspondent for The Washington Post, Balz is the author of several books, including one on President Obama's first election — The Battle for America 2008: The Story of an Extraordinary Election — written with Haynes Johnson.
In the summer of 1969, all eyes were on Los Angeles, where nine people had been murdered. Among the dead was Sharon Tate, a movie star and wife of movie director Roman Polanski. Police said a cult called "The Family" was responsible.
The leader of The Family was the charismatic, ruthless and manipulative Charles Manson. America was captivated by him, and by the young women who, under his spell, had snuck into two houses in Los Angeles to murder people they had never met. The trial was nationally broadcast, and Manson became a household name.
The nation's first black public high school, Paul Laurence Dunbar High, opened its doors in Washington, D.C., in 1870. But more than 140 years later, Dunbar — like many urban schools — has fallen on hard times. The crumbling, brutalist-style building is often described as a prison, and graduation rates hover around 60 percent.
But it wasn't always that way. Once upon a time, the yearbook read like a Who's Who of black America.
Actress Najla Said is a Palestinian-Lebanese-American Christian, but growing up in New York City, her identity was anything but clearly defined.
The daughter of prominent literary critic Edward Said, she spent her childhood in one of the most influential intellectual households in America. Edward Said, who died in 2003, was a renowned professor at Columbia University and was critical to defining Palestinian independence.
Verlyn Klinkenborg's essays about life on his farm in upstate New York have run in The New York Times since 1997. With a long family history of farming, his agricultural roots run deep into the soil.
"All of my aunts and uncles farmed; all of my cousins still farm," he says. "The home farm where my dad was raised has been in my family since the early teens, and ... following the track of modern agriculture, has changed its character hugely over time. But it's still in the family."