Editor's Note — November 17, 2016, 2:12 pm

Inside the December Issue

Andrew Cockburn on the New Red Scare, Kiera Feldman on the right to choose in Rapid City, Fred Bahnson on feral faith in the age of climate change, and more  

HarpersWeb-2016-12-302x410We have just emerged from one of the most bruising elections in American history, notable not only for its level of vituperation but for the sinister presence of a third party: the Russian government.  Or so goes the standard narrative, which Andrew Cockburn takes some pains to debunk in “The New Red Scare.” The author concedes that Putin’s intelligence agencies may well have engineered the D.N.C. hacks. The other operations—the leaking of the pilfered material, and the intrusions into election-related computer systems in Arizona and Illinois—are much harder to trace. What most alarms Cockburn, in any case, is our eagerness to latch onto Russia as the bogeyman of choice. This is an old habit, he argues, going straight back to America’s inflation of the Russian threat after the Second World War. It benefits the politicians (since it allows them to dodge more pressing issues) and the weapons industry (since it keeps the cash register ringing)—but it is a blight, says Cockburn, on the civilian populace of both nations. Are the Russians truly coming? Read the piece and decide for yourself.

The winner of that election was Donald Trump. And once he assumes office, he is likely to wreak havoc on any number of things, including reproductive rights. In “With Child,” Kiera Feldman travels to South Dakota, a state whose abhorrence of Roe v. Wade would gladden the heart of our next president. There she explores the numerous legal and logistical hurdles placed in the path of any woman seeking an abortion. If Trump manages to pack the Supreme Court with frothing pro-lifers, the future for women’s health will look something like this—or much, much worse.

Things look little better when it comes to climate change. But Fred Bahnson finds something of a silver lining in “The Priest in the Trees”—a chronicle of the Reverend Stephen Blackmer, a former environmental activist who found his vocation during a plane flight in 2007. (“You are to be a priest,” said a voice in his head, which he was admittedly slow to heed.) Blackmer attended divinity school, was ordained, and soon founded the Church of the Woods: an outdoor sanctuary on 106 acres in New Hampshire, whose congregants regard nature as a balm, a necessity, and a spiritual lodestar. Many comparisons comes to mind—are we encountering Thoreau in a clerical collar?—but none of them really explain Blackmer and his flock, who believe that prayer and contemplation are necessary if we hope to fix an ailing planet.

Back in 1987, Daniel Asa Rose struck up a conversation with a stranger in a bar, and discovered that both of them had been born on the same day in the same hospital. The encounter surprised and tickled him—and decades later, he decided to track down some additional birth mates, eventually locating four more. What had this random sample of humanity been up to since 1949, when they shared a Brooklyn nursery together for a week? And did it mean much to be members of a generational cohort, or nothing at all? Rose tackles these questions and more in “Separated At Birth,” a funny and fascinating peek into the ambivalent heart of boomer culture.

Elsewhere in the magazine, Simon Parkin spills the beans on carp-rustling in the United Kingdom, and Anne Applebaum offers a master class on the rise and fall of the Romanov dynasty. Cartoonist Catherine Meurisse looks back on the Charlie Hebdo massacre in “The Lightness,” finding both solace and a kind of phantom pain in works of classical sculpture. Dyannah Byington makes her debut in the magazine with “Cold Fish,” a svelte work of fiction about romantic failure, and Readings features excerpts from Javier Marías, Karl Ove Knausgaard, and Peter Handke, plus Elena Ferrante on fame (she doesn’t like it). And Easy Chair columnist Walter Kirn drives out to Standing Rock—a journey that spooks, shames, and enlightens him in equal measure.

 

Share
Single Page

More from James Marcus:

Editor's Note February 17, 2017, 2:13 pm

Inside the March Issue

Andrew Cockburn on turning Texas blue, Masha Gessen on the spread of antigay ideology, Calvin Baker on how Obama negotiated America’s racial tightrope, Mary Cuddehe on the dealth penalty as a conservative conundrum, a story by David Szalay, and more

Editor's Note January 18, 2017, 1:19 pm

Inside the February Issue

May Jeong on the peace process in Afghanistan, Anthony Heilbut on black America’s civil war over gay rights, Alice Gregory on the world of miniatures, a story by John Edgar Wideman, a resister’s guide to Trump, and more

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

United States Canada

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

March 2017

Black Like Who?

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

A Matter of Life

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

City of Gilt

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Tyranny of the Minority

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Texas is the Future

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Family Values

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Article
Texas is the Future·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

I first heard the name Barack Obama in the spring of 2004, while visiting my mother in Chicago. As we sat around the kitchen table early one spring morning, I noticed a handsome studio portrait among the pictures, lists, cards, and other totems of family life fastened to the refrigerator door. “Who’s the guy with the ears?” I asked, assuming he was some distant relative or family friend I didn’t know or else had forgotten. “Barack Obama,” she answered with a broad smile. “He’s running for Senate, but he’s going to be the first black president.”

Illustration (detail) by John Ritter
Post
The Forty-Fifth President·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

I first heard the name Barack Obama in the spring of 2004, while visiting my mother in Chicago. As we sat around the kitchen table early one spring morning, I noticed a handsome studio portrait among the pictures, lists, cards, and other totems of family life fastened to the refrigerator door. “Who’s the guy with the ears?” I asked, assuming he was some distant relative or family friend I didn’t know or else had forgotten. “Barack Obama,” she answered with a broad smile. “He’s running for Senate, but he’s going to be the first black president.”

Photograph (detail) by Philip Montgomery
Article
Itchy Nose·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

I first heard the name Barack Obama in the spring of 2004, while visiting my mother in Chicago. As we sat around the kitchen table early one spring morning, I noticed a handsome studio portrait among the pictures, lists, cards, and other totems of family life fastened to the refrigerator door. “Who’s the guy with the ears?” I asked, assuming he was some distant relative or family friend I didn’t know or else had forgotten. “Barack Obama,” she answered with a broad smile. “He’s running for Senate, but he’s going to be the first black president.”

Artwork (detail) © The Kazuto Tatsuta/Kodansha Ltd
Article
A Matter of Life·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

I first heard the name Barack Obama in the spring of 2004, while visiting my mother in Chicago. As we sat around the kitchen table early one spring morning, I noticed a handsome studio portrait among the pictures, lists, cards, and other totems of family life fastened to the refrigerator door. “Who’s the guy with the ears?” I asked, assuming he was some distant relative or family friend I didn’t know or else had forgotten. “Barack Obama,” she answered with a broad smile. “He’s running for Senate, but he’s going to be the first black president.”

Photograph (detail) by Edwin Tse
Article
Black Like Who?·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

I first heard the name Barack Obama in the spring of 2004, while visiting my mother in Chicago. As we sat around the kitchen table early one spring morning, I noticed a handsome studio portrait among the pictures, lists, cards, and other totems of family life fastened to the refrigerator door. “Who’s the guy with the ears?” I asked, assuming he was some distant relative or family friend I didn’t know or else had forgotten. “Barack Obama,” she answered with a broad smile. “He’s running for Senate, but he’s going to be the first black president.”

Photograph © Jon Lowenstein/NOOR

Ratio of the average cost of a gallon of gas in Britain last September to that of a gallon of Starbucks coffee:

1:4

The faculty of embarrassment was located in the pregenual anterior cingulate cortex by neurologists who made brain-damaged subjects sing along to “My Girl” and then listen to their own singing played back without musical accompaniment.

Greece evacuated 72,000 people from the town of Thessaloniki while an undetonated World War II–era bomb was excavated from beneath a gas station.

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

HARPER’S FINEST

Who Goes Nazi?

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

By

"It is an interesting and somewhat macabre parlor game to play at a large gathering of one’s acquaintances: to speculate who in a showdown would go Nazi. By now, I think I know. I have gone through the experience many times—in Germany, in Austria, and in France. I have come to know the types: the born Nazis, the Nazis whom democracy itself has created, the certain-to-be fellow-travelers. And I also know those who never, under any conceivable circumstances, would become Nazis."

Subscribe Today