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“An indispensable pillar of the public sphere.”
—Alondra Nelson

Boston Review is a political and literary forum—a public space for discussion of ideas, politics, and culture. Independent and nonprofit, animated by hope and committed to equality, we believe in the power of collective reasoning and imagination to create a more just world.

To that end, we publish a diverse range of voices and views—on the web (always for free), in print (four times a year), and at public events (not just in Boston). By fostering the open and engaged exchange of ideas essential to a flourishing democracy, we aim to create a more egalitarian public sphere. Our signature feature is the Forum, which subjects arguments to constructive scrutiny and debate.

Since democracy depends on engaged discussion, we are committed to keeping our website free and open to everyone, regardless of ability to pay. And since it compromises the integrity of public deliberation, we no longer host any advertising. But we can’t forgo the revenue from ads and paywalls without the financial support of our readers. To help sustain a public space for rigorous argument, constructive debate, and vibrant imagination on behalf of a more just world, please become a member or make a tax-deductible donation.

Read more about our history—and what people are saying about us—below.


Boston Review began in 1975 as New Boston Review, a quarterly devoted to literature and the arts. Its first editors were Juan Alonso, Jeffrey C. Hart, and Margaret Hill Carter, and the founding staff included Anita Silvey and Jerrold Hickey. In 1977, Gail Pool joined Alonso as co-editor, along with Lorna Condon the following year. Nicholas Bromell became editor in 1980, with publishing support from Arthur J. Rosenthal, and in 1982 the magazine was renamed Boston Review. Subsequent editors were Gail Caldwell, Mark Silk, and Margaret Ann Roth.

An editorial board—including Anthony Appiah, Joshua Cohen, Duncan Kennedy, Kris Rondeau, and Charles Sabel—replaced Roth in 1991. Cohen took over as editor-in-chief in 1993 and developed the magazine’s current focus and mission while maintaining a strong profile in fiction and poetry. Deborah Chasman joined Cohen as co-editor in 2002.

Since 1995 the full text of Boston Review has been available online, always for free. (Digital editions of earlier issues are available to members.) And since 1996 the magazine has also published more than thirty books in the Boston Review books series—accessible primers on pressing issues of the day. A selection of these books is available via MIT Press here and here.

What People Are Saying

“When it comes to publishing fresh and generative ideas, Boston Review has no peer.”

Robin D. G. Kelley, Gary B. Nash Professor of American History at UCLA

“America is a big country, and Boston Review is one of the two or three best intellectual and political publications we have.”

Charles Simić, Pulitzer Prize–winning poet 

“Publishing diverse voices that embrace debate and encourage impatience with convention, Boston Review is an indispensable pillar of the public sphere.”

Alondra Nelson, Deputy Director for Science and Society in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, President of the Social Science Research Council

Boston Review operates at a level of literacy and responsibility which is all too rare in our time.”

John Kenneth Galbraith, author of The Good Society 

Boston Review is so good right now.”

Naomi Klein, activist and New York Times best-selling author

Boston Review is a feast of the mind, at once intellectually provocative, literary, and unpretentious.”

Alan Lightman, author of Einstein’s Dreams 

“I love Boston Review for being unfailingly smart, perceptive, and unexpected.”

Elizabeth Bruenig, Washington Post

“Always challenging, always provocativeBoston Review brings a fresh and insightful perspective to the literature and politics of a multicultural age.”

Henry Louis Gates, Jr., general editor of The Norton Anthology of African American Literature

Boston Review cuts out the noise, the posturing, and the hysteria and engages ideas with intelligence and humanity. In other words, it’s a democratic place for a reading public.”

Junot Díaz, Pulitzer Prize–winning author

“A model of serious left-leaning thinking, featuring the sort of intellectual exchange that holds the promise of making our societies and our world more just.”

Philippe Van Parijs, Professor of Economic, Social, and Political Sciences at UCLouvain

Boston Review has done more than its share to help set the standard for public discourse.”

Victor Navasky, The Nation

Boston Review has an almost ferocious commitment to issues—not just debating them, but exploring their root systems. Free-spoken, intelligent, and 180 degrees from the soundbite mentality that governs most writing on controversial subjects.”

Sven Birkerts, author of The Gutenberg Elegies 

“Let mainstream publications give in to the perceived demand for bite-sized news; Boston Review provides the exquisite main course.”

UTNE award citation for Best Writing, 2010

What so many journals and magazines on the left claim to be but only partly achieve: literary yet political, demanding yet accessible.”

David Waldstreicher, Distinguished Professor of History at CUNY

“In our swamp of media sensationalism and group-speak, Boston Review stands out as a bold voice for reason and argument, one of the very, very few places that offer intelligence, integrity, and variety.”

Martha Nussbaum, Ernst Freund Distinguished Service Professor of Law and Ethics at the University of Chicago

Boston Review is sustenance for intelligent life on Earth. It is remarkable for the range and quality of its fare, from poetry to philosophy, somehow never losing touch with the practical political concerns that are the spark of its life.”

Frank I. Michelman, author of Brennan and Democracy 

Boston Review’s approach to poetry is truly unique and magnificent. . . . I thank you dearly every time I open your pages.”

Jorie Graham, chancellor of the American Academy of Poets and MacArthur Fellow 

“The most stimulating feature, to me, is the collection of responses from thinkers which follows a controversial article. These responses illuminate all facets of an argument and create active thought in the reader. There can be no higher result, in this era of passive consumption.”

Helen Vendler, author of The Art of Shakespeare’s Sonnets 

Boston Review is one of the few places today where serious discussion of our political alternatives is flourishing. An antidote to complacence and conventional wisdom, it offers hope of revitalizing American political debate.”

Michael Sandel, author of Democracy’s Discontent 

Boston Review is a jewel; it contains serious discussion at the highest level of pressing issues in economics, politics, and political philosophy, as well as of art and literature. Don’t miss it!”

John Rawls, author of A Theory of Justice 

Boston Review is a place where American prose feels exact and alive. It is one of the three or four American journals that makes me feel we have a culture.”

Robert Hass, Poet Laureate of the United States, 1995–97

 “Boston Review is one of a kind. It provides a thoughtful forum for in-depth (but highly readable) debate on new directions.”

Gar Alperovitz, President of the National Center for Economic and Security Alternatives and author of Atomic Diplomacy

Boston Review offers some of the most penetrating and challenging cultural commentary, political discussion, and social analysis to be found anywhere in the United States. It is a must read.”

Randall Kennedy, author of Race, Crime, and the Law 

“I read Boston Review in order to clarify my own thinking. It’s a tremendous resource in this time of chaos.”

Danielle Allen, James Bryant Conant Professor at Harvard University

Boston Review is both lively and serious about ideas, politics, and the arts. It manages to convey the sense that there are things to discuss, and the discussion is actually there.”

Robert Solow, Nobel Laureate in Economics 

Boston Review is an outstanding magazine.”

David Lehman, series editor of The Best American Poetry 

Newsletter readers get 10% off

Boston Review is a political and literary forum—a public space for collective reasoning and imagination of a more just world.

Subscribe to our newsletters to get our latest essays, archival selections, reading lists, and exclusive editorial content (plus 10% off  our entire store).

Newsletter readers get 10% off

Boston Review is a political and literary forum—a public space for collective reasoning and imagination of a more just world.

Subscribe to our newsletters to get our latest essays, archival selections, reading lists, and exclusive editorial content (plus 10% off  our entire store).