Editor's Note — November 15, 2013, 3:42 am

Introducing the December 2013 Issue

Colson Whitehead on Las Vegas, Ben Lerner on vandalism as art, and Edwidge Danticat on photographs from Africa

December 2013Because half of my extended family lives on the East Coast and half on the West Coast, we have tried to organize large gatherings in Las Vegas, considered by some of the West Coasters to be reasonably priced and accessible to everyone. I have always resisted, having thought of the city as tacky. But Colson Whitehead’s essay in this month’s Harper’s Magazine changed my mind. “I pity people who’ve never been to Las Vegas,” Whitehead begins. “Who dismiss the city without setting foot on its carpeted sidewalks.” He goes on to describe Vegas, contrary to those who think of it only as a refuge for down-and-out gamblers, as a city that brings joy to millions.

In Andrew Cockburn’s second report as the magazine’s Washington Editor, he looks at the role of secretary of state, a position widely believed to be powerful. But the real might in shaping foreign policy, Cockburn demonstrates, lies very much behind the scenes, with such communities as the Cuban expatriates of Miami, and with people most of us have never heard of—men like Bernard H. Barnett, a rare Jewish Republican, who in the mid-twentieth century lobbied successfully on behalf of Israel, but who goes unmentioned in the standard histories of that era.

Ben Lerner, who last wrote for Harper’s on high school debating (“Contest of Words,” October 2012), examines several notorious instances of art vandalism—the defacing of Rothko’s Black on Maroon with a black paint pen; the spray-painting of a matador and bull on Picasso’s Woman in a Red Armchair—and notes that the destruction of established works of art has a “long and sanctioned history in the avant-garde.” Lerner reasons that this practice, which vandals claim adds rather than detracts from the worth of the original pieces, calls into question the value assigned to works of art—a value, he argues, that is more or less arbitrary.

In a rare and intimate look at the lives of undocumented immigrants in his home state of North Carolina, contributing editor Duncan Murrell spent several months with a family he calls the Almanzas. Esteban and Maria Almanza have six children, and they’ve been in the United States for ten years, working in a chicken-processing plant. A few months after Murrell meets them, Maria is arrested for working under a false name, leaving the whole family in danger of being deported. Murrell’s beautifully written essay depicts an unfortunately too-typical modern American immigrant story, showing us a family that, no matter their official status, is very much American.

In his Easy Chair column this month, Thomas Frank returns to Chicago, where he lived for a number of years, and laments the changes that have taken place: a city once populated by poor graduate students and hippies has become a mecca for upwardly mobile professionals and foodies, despite its now record-breaking murder rate.

Also in this issue: a new story by Ben Marcus; Christopher Beha on the work and legacy of Norman Mailer; Jenny Diski on the allure of the glamorous; James Marcus on whether Amazon can change its predatory ways; and a portfolio of images from Africa with accompanying text by Edwidge Danticat.

Share
Single Page

More from Ellen Rosenbush:

Editor's Note July 10, 2014, 1:05 pm

Introducing the August 2014 Issue

Jessica Bruder on the end of retirement, Mary Gordon on the new Vatican, Laura Kipnis on narcissism, and more

Editor's Note June 12, 2014, 8:00 am

Introducing the July 2014 Issue

Kevin Baker on the lost glory of America’s railroads, Mark Hertsgaard on Obama’s environmental failures, Sarah Menkedick on why Mexican immigrants are moving back home, and more

Editor's Note May 15, 2014, 1:45 pm

Introducing the June 2014 Issue

Maud Newton reflects on America’s ancestry obsession, Randall Kennedy revisits the Civil Rights Act, Scott Horton reveals a possible coverup at Guantánamo Bay, and more

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

United States Canada

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

August 2014

The End of Retirement

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Octopus and Its Grandchildren

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Francis and the Nuns

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Return of the Strongman

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Post
 
 Jessica Bruder on the end of retirement, Mary Gordon on the new Vatican, Laura Kipnis on narcissism, and more
Article
The End of Retirement·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“For those riding the economy’s outermost edge, adaptation may now mean giving up what full-time RV dwellers call ‘stick houses’ to hit the road and seek work.”
Photograph (detail) © Max Whittaker
Post
God Lives on Lemon Street·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“Bethel was Oz-like for me. I mean that with all the awe, utter hopefulness, and mythic fear with which Dorothy and her friends had approached that magical city.”
Photograph (detail) ©© Clemens v. Vogelson (Flickr)
Article
The Octopus and Its Grandchildren·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

On Stanford University’s origins and vision
“The pervasive fantasy that Silicon Valley doesn’t need the government obscures the role of that government in funding much of the research that built it.”
Photograph © Sallie Dean Shatz
Post
World Cup Boom and Bust·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“I’m not giving a dime to FIFA. You know they’re not paying taxes on any of this?”
Photograph © The author

Chance that an American believes Ramadan is the Jewish day of atonement:

1 in 10

Mathematicians discovered the existence of a pseudoprime that is the sum of 10,333,229,505 known primes and contains roughly 295 billion digits but cannot be represented precisely because the mathematician who found it lacks sufficient RAM.

On the eve of Independence Day in Belarus, President Alexander Lukashenko delivered a speech in Belarusian instead of Russian for the first time in 20 years, disproving rumors that he can no longer speak the language.

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

HARPER’S FINEST

In Praise of Idleness

By

I hope that after reading the following pages the leaders of the Y. M. C. A. will start a campaign to induce good young men to do nothing. If so, I shall not have lived in vain.

Subscribe Today