Editor's Note — June 13, 2013, 2:39 pm

Introducing the July 2013 Issue of Harper’s Magazine

A global-warming get-rich-quick scheme, a magic-mushroom murder, and more

July 2013

Our cover story this month takes on some of the biggest crises of the day: financial fraud, climate change, and water shortages. All three come together in the story of Otto Spork, a Canadian dentist who persuaded hundreds of investors to buy into a phony plan to sell water from Iceland’s glaciers directly to the drought-prone nations of the world. After his scam collapsed — leading some to compare him to Bernie Madoff — he disappeared. Our reporter McKenzie Funk spent five years chasing after Spork, traveling from Ontario to Iceland to Palm Beach and talking with a variety of shadowy informants and grifters looking to cash in on climate change. Funk’s Spork saga (say it three times fast) is a crash course in the absurdity of the financial world and a preview of the thirsty future that awaits us all.

In “Blood Spore,” the intrepid Hamilton Morris delves into the 1980 murder of Dr. Stephen Pollock, whose pioneering research on magic mushrooms also made him into something of a mycological kingpin, selling psychedelic spores via mail order. This true-crime story takes the author from San Antonio, Texas (where Pollock died), to Amsterdam, where two entrepreneurs known as the Truffle Brothers manufacture nearly 20,000 tons of fungal gold per year. Morris never quite unravels the mystery of Pollock’s death, although a conversation preserved on an ancient cassette tape points glaringly toward collusion by the local police. But he does provide a vivid, comical, and frequently surreal window into the world of mycological obsessives, who wander the earth with their “eyes perpetually narrowed, minds bent on finding the precious fruit others squash under heel and haunted by the knowledge that no matter how hard they look something will always have escaped them.”

Elsewhere in the issue, Mark Edmundson deplores the state of American poetry, with its narcissistic tone and puny ambition. Thomas Frank considers a trio of Eighties-era empire builders (Margaret Thatcher, Al Neuharth, and Howard Phillips), Jeff Madrick argues that bankruptcy isn’t so bad after all,  and Jane Smiley surveys several new memoirs — a form she calls “tempting but treacherous.” Russell Mokhiber’s Annotation, “Plaque Ops,” reveals the corporate conquest of Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations. And Julie Hecht’s story, “May I Touch Your Hair?,” looks back to summers spent at the beach during the Fifties — a touching remembrance of a coiffure-fixated childhood.

Share
Single Page

More from Harper’s Magazine:

Official Business January 8, 2015, 3:57 pm

The Art of Outrage

We defend Charlie Hebdo’s right to publish its cartoons—and our right to critique them.

Memento Mori September 2, 2014, 5:33 pm

Charles Bowden (1945–2014)

Mentions July 16, 2014, 7:00 pm

“The End of Retirement” on MSNBC

Watch Jessica Bruder on MSNBC’s The Cycle

Get access to 164 years of
Harper’s for only $39.99

United States Canada

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

March 2015

A Sage in Harlem

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Man Stopped

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Spy Who Fired Me

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Giving Up the Ghost

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Invisible and Insidious

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

[Browsings]
William Powell published The Anarchist Cookbook in 1971. He spent the next four decades fighting to take it out of print.
“The book has hovered like an awkward question on the rim of my consciousness for years.”
© JP Laffont/Sygma/Corbis
Article
The Fourth Branch·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“Both the United States and the Soviet Union saw student politics as a proxy battleground for their rivalry.”
Photograph © Gerald R. Brimacombe/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images
Article
Giving Up the Ghost·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“Stories about past lives help explain this life — they promise a root structure beneath the inexplicable soil of what we see and live and know, what we offer one another.”
Illustration by Steven Dana
Article
The Spy Who Fired Me·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“In industry after industry, this data collection is part of an expensive, high-tech effort to squeeze every last drop of productivity from corporate workforces.”
Illustration by John Ritter
Article
Invisible and Insidious·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“Wherever we are, radiation finds and damages us, at best imperceptibly.”
Photograph © 2011 Massimo Mastrorillo and Donald Weber/VII

Number of U.S. congressional districts in which trade with China has produced more jobs than it has cost:

Young bilingual children who learned one language first are likelier than monolingual children and bilingual children who learned languages simultaneously to say that a dog adopted by owls will hoot.

An Oklahoma legislative committee voted to defund Advanced Placement U.S. History courses, accusing the curriculum of portraying the United States as “a nation of oppressors and exploiters.”

Subscribe to the Weekly Review newsletter. Don’t worry, we won’t sell your email address!

HARPER’S FINEST

Driving Mr. Albert

By

He could be one of a million beach-bound, black-socked Florida retirees, not the man who, by some odd happenstance of life, possesses the brain of Albert Einstein — literally cut it out of the dead scientist's head.

Subscribe Today