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

Harper's Magazine, August 2014Middle-class Americans have taken it for granted that they will be able to stop working in their mid-sixties and enjoy a tranquil retirement. But as Jessica Bruder reports in the cover story of our August 2014 issue, they can no longer count on this. Many would-be retirees lost their jobs, their houses, and their life savings in the recession of 2008, and some have taken to the road in RVs, crisscrossing the country in search of temporary work. Depending on the time of year, they sort products in mammoth Amazon warehouses, sell Fourth of July fireworks, flip burgers at baseball games, or assist in sugar-beet harvests. They also staff many of the country’s campgrounds, trailer parks, and other tourist locations. These geriatric migrants are, Bruder writes, the “Okies of the Great Recession.”

For her first Easy Chair column, Rebecca Solnit writes about Stanford University, tracing its history and ties to the tech industries of Silicon Valley. Solnit exposes the self-glorifying libertarian roots of the university, which was founded with money from Leland Stanford’s government-subsidized railroad empire and relied on the same octopus-like networks still active in the Valley today.

Negar Azimi visited Cairo last fall, around the time Egypt’s democratically elected president, Mohamed Morsi, was ousted after only a year in office and put in detention; the leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood were either jailed or had gone into hiding; and General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi was poised to take over the government. Azimi describes an Egyptian populace both suspicious of the Brotherhood as a political entity and wildly enthusiastic about their latest strongman. They seemed to have forgotten that Sisi had served as Hosni Mubarak’s head of military intelligence and had ordered bloody raids on sit-ins by Morsi’s supporters just last year. Now the country’s pro-Morsi and anti-Morsi blocs are at war with each other. And Sisi, who, to no one’s surprise, was overwhelmingly elected Egypt’s new president, is likely to join the region’s disheartening roster of despots.

I think I can say with certainty that Francis I is the first pope to have been named Time magazine’s Person of the Year and to have made the cover of Rolling Stone. He is celebrated by progressives both inside and outside the Catholic Church for his seemingly liberal views. Yet as Mary Gordon reports, one group has been disappointed in him so far: American nuns. Exemplified by Sister Simone Campbell and her lobbying group, Network, these women are at the forefront of social action in the United States. But their positions on the Affordable Care Act, abortion, and gay marriage have put them at odds with the Catholic hierarchy. In “Francis and the Nuns: Is the new Vatican all talk?” Gordon describes this ecclesiastical clash and criticizes the supposedly populist pontiff for supporting the wrong side.

In this month’s Annotation, Jenna Krajeski examines video evidence from a night of rioting against the government of Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Security cameras have been placed all over Turkey (by 2010, 4,000 cameras had been installed in Istanbul alone), and on the night of September 10, 2013, cameras in Antakya, a city in southern Turkey near the Syrian border, recorded the death of Ahmet Atakan, the sixth protester to have died during antigovernment demonstrations. Krajeski pieces together various bits of footage — including clips recorded by cell phones — to determine how and why Atakan died.

Also in this issue: Frederic Morton on why the world went to war in 1914; William Pfaff on the rise of American militarism; new fiction by Diane Cook; Laura Kipnis on narcissism; Christopher Tayler on the letters of Malcolm Cowley; and Joshua Cohen on Dave Eggers and Joan Rivers.

Share
Single Page

More from Ellen Rosenbush:

Editor's Note August 13, 2015, 12:52 pm

Introducing the September Issue

William Deresiewicz discusses education in the age of neoliberalism, Andrew Cockburn argues that invasive species don’t deserve their bad reputations, Elaine Blair reviews Jonathan Franzen’s new novel, and more

Get access to 165 years of
Harper’s for only $45.99

United States Canada

  • jem

    Although the stories have remained strong as usual, the cover art recently has been disappointing. The few more artistically geared covers in early and mid 2013 were beautiful and alluring, particularly April 2013. Even as someone who visited Adventureland as a kid and as such the August 2014 cover art is somewhat evocative, it feels slapdash and hokey, not really befitting such a finely laid-out and artistic magazine. Just my two cents. Looking forward to the issue though.

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

September 2015

Weed Whackers

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Tremendous Machine

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

A Goose in a Dress

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Genealogy of Orals

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Article
New Television·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“In Season 5 of Louie (FX), Louie is a new kind of superhero. Like Wonder Woman, the canonical superhero he most resembles, Louie’s distinctive superpower is love.”
Illustration by Demetrios Psillos
Article
Romancing Kano·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

On a Friday evening in January, a thousand people at the annual California Native Plant Society conference in San Jose settled down to a banquet and a keynote speech delivered by an environmental historian named Jared Farmer. His chosen topic was the eucalyptus tree and its role in California’s ecology and history. The address did not go well. Eucalyptus is not a native plant but a Victorian import from Australia. In the eyes of those gathered at the San Jose DoubleTree, it qualified as “invasive,” “exotic,” “alien” — all dirty words to this crowd, who were therefore convinced that the tree was dangerously combustible, unfriendly to birds, and excessively greedy in competing for water with honest native species.

In his speech, Farmer dutifully highlighted these ugly attributes, but also quoted a few more positive remarks made by others over the years. This was a reckless move. A reference to the tree as “indigenously Californian” elicited an abusive roar, as did an observation that without the aromatic import, the state would be like a “home without its mother.” Thereafter, the mild-mannered speaker was continually interrupted by boos, groans, and exasperated gasps. Only when he mentioned the longhorn beetle, a species imported (illegally) from Australia during the 1990s with the specific aim of killing the eucalyptus, did he earn a resounding cheer.

Article
The Prisoner of Sex·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“It is disappointing that parts of Purity read as though Franzen urgently wanted to telegraph a message to anyone who would defend his fiction from charges of chauvinism: ‘No, you’ve got me wrong. I really am sexist.’”
Illustration by Shonagh Rae
Article
Gangs of Karachi·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“In Karachi, sometimes only the thinnest of polite fictions separates the politicians from the men who kill and extort on their behalf.”
Photograph © Asim Rafiqui/NOOR Images
Article
Weed Whackers·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“Defining 'native' and 'invasive' in an ever-shifting natural world poses some problems. The camel, after all, is native to North America, though it went extinct here 8,000 years ago, while the sacrosanct redwood tree is invasive, having snuck in at some point in the past 65 million years.”
Photograph by Chad Ress

Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:

65

An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.

A tourism company in Australia announced a service that will allow users to take the “world’s biggest selfies,” and a Texas man accidentally killed himself while trying to pose for a selfie with a handgun.

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

HARPER’S FINEST

Subways Are for Sleeping

By

“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”

Subscribe Today