Editor's Note — March 13, 2014, 8:00 am

Introducing the April 2014 Issue

How to be your own best doctor, a drone’s-eye view of America, and drought threatens the Southwest

Harper's Magazine, April 2014The older I get, the more I relish a little certainty in my life — and like most people, I look to doctors to supply it, at least to some degree. But in a world of futuristic instruments, shiny white furniture, and snappy assistants, that certainty is harder and harder to come by. For Heidi Julavits, who wrote “Diagnosis This,” the cover story for the April 2014 issue, the medical world is a gray zone, filled with conflicting views and endless, expensive conjecture. Attempting to determine the cause of a mysterious ailment, she consults a series of specialists — but also turns to literature and the Internet as diagnostic tools. Her quest is a fascinating look at modern medicine and how it is administered.

Contributing editor Christopher Ketcham, who last wrote for the magazine on a homeowners’ revolt against the banks, reports this month on the dying Colorado River, which has been diverted by a series of dams to supply water to the parched Southwest. Ketcham rafts down the river from Utah to Arizona with an environmentalist and the water manager for the city of Denver — two men with dramatically opposed views on how this precious resource should be used. But a solution must be found, since neither the cities of the Southwest nor California agriculture can ultimately survive if the river runs dry.

This month marks the first time we’ve used photography as our Folio. Tomas van Houtryve bought a drone on Amazon.com and modified it to accommodate a small camera and equipment for transmitting video back to the ground. The aerial photographs he took — of groups of people at weddings, funerals, and prisons — are eerie reminders of the drones the U.S. government deploys to carry out airstrikes in Pakistan, Somalia, and Yemen, and of their even more troubling use as tools of domestic surveillance.

Our short fiction is an imaginative reconstruction of what happened between Dominique Strauss-Kahn and Nafissatou Diallo on May 14, 2011, at New York’s Sofitel. Told from Strauss-Kahn’s point of view, Ken Kalfus’s “Coup de Foudre” plausibly explains some of the more inexplicable details behind that historic, distinctly unsavory encounter, all the while treading a fine line between satire and satyriasis.

Also in this issue: Christopher Cox explores the balance between safety and surveillance, highlighting New York City mayor Bill de Blasio’s decision to halt the police department’s stop-and-frisk program and the National Security Agency’s ongoing obfuscations; Andrew J. Bacevich skewers the diaries of American diplomat George F. Kennan, one of the prime architects of the Cold War; and Lawrence Jackson examines the life of Carl Van Vechten, an American writer and photographer who promoted many black artists and neatly blurred the line between fan, impresario, and (in the words of his biographer) “sideshow gimcrack barker.”

Share
Single Page

More from Ellen Rosenbush:

Editor's Note December 11, 2014, 3:32 pm

Introducing the January 2015 Issue

Jen Percy examines women’s rights in liberated Afghanistan, Sam Frank hangs out with Silicon Valley’s apocalyptic libertarians, Emily Witt analyzes Pinochet’s legacy in Chile, and more

Editor's Note November 13, 2014, 12:03 pm

Introducing the December 2014 Issue

Sarah Topol follows the trade routes used by arms smugglers, Eric Foner explores the hidden history of the Underground Railroad, Karl Ove Knausgaard recounts a humiliating episode from grade school, and more

Editor's Note October 19, 2014, 7:51 pm

Introducing the November 2014 Issue

Doug Henwood on stopping Hillary Clinton, fighters and potential recruits discuss the rise of the Islamic State, the inevitability of factory farming, and more

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

United States Canada

  • AllanDale

    The North American continent west of the Rockies is a coastal desert. That’s why the transcontinental railroad was a road to nowhere until the first of many federal water projects made the land usable, starting in the 1920s at the instigation of Southern California Republican congressman Phil Swing. The first humans to arrive on this continent (15,000 years ago) via the Bering Strait landbridge kept to the east of the Rockies and ultimately settled on the Texas-New Mexico border in the southwestern corner of the Great Plains near the modern towns of Clovis and Folsom.

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

January 2015

Come With Us If You Want to Live

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Body Politic

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Problem of Pain Management

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Game On

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Love Crimes

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Article
The Body Politic·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“‘He wrote all these love poems, but he was a son of a bitch,’ said a reporter from a wire service.”
Illustration by Steven Dana
Article
Love Crimes·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“If a man rapes a woman, she might be forced to marry him, because in Afghanistan sex before marriage is dishonorable.”
Photographs © Andrew Quilty/Oculi/Agence VU
Article
Game On·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“The end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union had posed a truly existential threat.”
Illustration by Taylor Callery
Article
Come With Us If You Want to Live·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“I was startled that all these negative ideologies could be condensed so easily into a positive worldview.”
Illustration by Darrel Rees
Article
Christmas in Prison·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“Just so you motherfuckers know, I’ll be spending Christmas with my family, eating a good meal, and you’ll all be here, right where you belong.”
Photographer unknown. Artwork courtesy Alyse Emdur

Acres of hemp grown by “patriotic‚” U.S. farmers in 1942 at the behest of the U.S. government:

36,000

A study suggested that the health effects of exposure to nuclear radiation at Chernobyl were no worse than ill health resulting from smoking and normal urban air pollution.

Greenpeace apologized after activists accidentally defaced the site of Peru’s 2,000-year-old Nazca Lines when they unfurled cloth letters reading “time for change” near the ancient sand drawings. “We fully understand,” the group wrote in a statement, “that this looks bad.”

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