Six Questions

Six Questions — July 1, 2014, 2:02 pm

Christopher Beha on Arts and Entertainments

Christopher Beha discusses sex tapes as literary vehicle, the celebrity impulse, and the problematic absence of religion in American literature

Christopher Beha © Ira Lipkke

Six Questions — June 30, 2014, 11:00 am

Jeff Sharlet on Radiant Truths

Jeff Sharlet on his collection of essential dispatches, reports, confessions, and other essays on American belief

Jeff Sharlet

Six Questions — June 23, 2014, 8:00 am

Rivka Galchen on American Innovations: Stories

The characters in Rivka Galchen’s new collection, American Innovations, are as surprised and confused by time travel, mysterious growths, and encounters with the dead as they are by being unemployed, getting divorced, and falling in love. In “Once an Empire,” which was published in the February 2010 issue of Harper’s Magazine, a woman arrives home to find her furniture climbing down the fire escape. Other stories revisit such classics as Thurber’s “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” and Borges’s “The Aleph,” but consider them all from the perspectives of women. In each story, Galchen creates a world at once recognizable but disturbed, uncertain …

Rivka Galchen © Sandy Tait

No Comment, Six Questions — June 4, 2014, 8:00 am

Uncovering the Cover Ups: Death Camp in Delta

Mark Denbeaux on the NCIS cover-up of three “suicides” at Guantánamo Bay Detention Camp

Mark Denbeaux © Sean Sime

Heart of Empire, Six Questions — May 6, 2014, 2:37 pm

Manufactured Crisis: The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare

Gareth Porter on the true history of Iran’s nuclear program

Gareth Porter. Photograph by Mike Chiaverina

Six Questions — March 28, 2014, 1:05 pm

The Empathy Exams: Essays

Leslie Jamison on empathy in craft and in life

Leslie Jamison © Colleen Kinder

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Helen Ouyang on the cost of crowd-sourcing drugs, Paul Wood on Trump's supporters, Walter Kirn on political predictions, Sonia Faleiro on a man's search for his kidnapped children, and Rivka Galchen on The People v. O. J. Simpson.

The new docudrama The People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story (FX) isn’t really about Orenthal James Simpson. It’s about the trials that ran alongside his — those informal, unboundaried, court-of-public-opinion trials in which evidence was heard for and against the murder victims, the defense and the prosecution, the judge, the jury, and the Los Angeles Police Department, to say nothing of white and black America. History has freed us from suspense about Simpson’s verdict, so that the man himself (played here by Cuba Gooding Jr.) is less the tragic hero he seemed in the mid-Nineties than a curiously minor character. He comes to the center of our attention only once, in Episode 2, at the end of the lengthy Ford Bronco chase scene — which in real life was followed by a surreal cavalcade of police cars and media helicopters, as well as an estimated 95 million live viewers — when Simpson repeatedly, and with apparent sincerity, apologizes for taking up so much of so many people’s time. It is an uncannily ordinary moment of social decorum, a sort of could-you-please-pass-the-salt gesture on a sinking Titanic, in which Simpson briefly becomes more than just an archetype.

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"All our friends are saying, load up with plenty of ammunition, because after the stores don’t have no food they’re gonna be hitting houses. They’re going to take over America, put their flag on the Capitol.” “Who?” I asked. “ISIS. Oh yeah.”
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He made them groom and feed the half-dozen horses used to transport the raw bricks to the furnace. Like the horses, the children were beaten with whips.
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The new docudrama The People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story (FX) isn’t really about Orenthal James Simpson. It’s about the trials that ran alongside his — those informal, unboundaried, court-of-public-opinion trials in which evidence was heard for and against the murder victims, the defense and the prosecution, the judge, the jury, and the Los Angeles Police Department, to say nothing of white and black America. History has freed us from suspense about Simpson’s verdict, so that the man himself (played here by Cuba Gooding Jr.) is less the tragic hero he seemed in the mid-Nineties than a curiously minor character. He comes to the center of our attention only once, in Episode 2, at the end of the lengthy Ford Bronco chase scene — which in real life was followed by a surreal cavalcade of police cars and media helicopters, as well as an estimated 95 million live viewers — when Simpson repeatedly, and with apparent sincerity, apologizes for taking up so much of so many people’s time. It is an uncannily ordinary moment of social decorum, a sort of could-you-please-pass-the-salt gesture on a sinking Titanic, in which Simpson briefly becomes more than just an archetype.

Illustration (detail) by Jen Renninger
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With its lens shifting from the courtroom to the newsroom to people’s back yards, the series evokes the way in which, for a brief, delusory moment, the O. J. verdict seemed to deliver justice for all black men.
Still from The People vs. OJ Simpson: American Crime Story © FX Networks

Amount an auditor estimated last year that Oregon could save each year by feeding prisoners less food:

$62,000

Kentucky is the saddest state.

An Italian economist was questioned on suspicion of terrorism after a fellow passenger on an American Airlines flight witnessed him writing differential equations on a pad of paper.

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