Alex Gibney on his documentary investigating the Roman Catholic Church’s handling of child sex-abuse cases
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Alex Gibney on his documentary investigating the Roman Catholic Church’s handling of child sex-abuse cases
Six Questions — January 24, 2013, 1:04 pm
Timothy Donnelly on writing challenging verse, the cultural faith bred by 30 Rock, and the poet’s need to reach for the eternities
Six Questions — January 18, 2013, 12:49 pm
Christopher S. Stewart on his epic hunt for Honduras’s lost White City
Tina Rosenberg on the British spy novelist who hoodwinked Hitler
Six Questions — November 14, 2012, 9:30 am
Mark Kingwell on fugitive democracy, the cultural role of philosophers, and hockey-borne Canadian anti-intellectualism
Six Questions — November 8, 2012, 3:31 pm
Elena Passarello on the animal appeal of the human voice and the art of the lyrical essay
Six Questions — October 20, 2012, 9:53 am
Frederick Kaufman on how food stopped being food
Six Questions — October 5, 2012, 1:31 pm
Theodore Ross discusses the history and evolution of American Judaism and recounts his attempt to reconcile with his childhood alienation from his Jewish heritage.
After four years in the political penalty box, Karl Rove has returned as the undeniable mastermind of the G.O.P.’s electoral effort. Vanity Fair contributing editor Craig Unger has just published a new book, Boss Rove: Inside Karl Rove’s Secret Kingdom of Power, that focuses on Rove’s fall from grace during the Bush years and his remarkable political resurrection. It shows how Rove’s tactics are remaking the nation’s political landscape and explains why, win or lose in 2012, he is likely to be a dominant force in Republican politics for some time. I put six questions to Unger about his new …
Six Questions — August 31, 2012, 12:42 pm
Joshua Cohen’s new story collection, Four New Messages, was published on August 7 to wide and deserved acclaim. The book’s four independent but stylistically and thematically harmonious stories are an extraordinary blend of the familiar and the cutting-edge, addressing ancient human preoccupations in an animated, elastic style that captures the distracted and alienated character of our time. The week after its release, I sat down with Cohen at his apartment in Manhattan to discuss writing, the horror and splendors of the Internet Age, and whether the codex, privacy, and the human imagination are doomed. “I’m more interested in good writing …
We live in a world in which the private space we are afforded seems to be constantly shrinking. Travelers are subjected to ever-mounting indignities at airports, and those who turn to the seeming anonymity of cyberspace soon learn that someone is keeping careful track of their habits and preferences, and may be putting the information to commercial or other purposes. Now Harper’s Magazine contributing editor Garret Keizer has written Privacy, a close look at an essential social and moral value. I put six questions to him about his new book: 1. You tell us that, “America is a pluralistic society …
Alex Cooley Through much of modern history, Central Asia has been a borderland between great empires that vied for influence within it. This came to an end with the Soviet period, which plunged the region into isolation. Now, Barnard College professor Alex Cooley has taken a deep look at the post-Soviet era. In Great Games, Local Rules: The New Great Power Contest in Central Asia, he finds a sometimes hostile, sometimes friendly rivalry, focused on security issues, between the United States, Russia, and China for influence in the region. I put six questions to Cooley about his new book: 1. …
Measured by revenue, ExxonMobil is the largest corporation on earth. Its operations span the globe, and it behaves like a powerful sovereign, exercising immense influence over the governments of the United States and many other nations in which it has operations. Now two-time Pulitzer Prize–winner Steve Coll has written Private Empire: ExxonMobil and American Power, an in-depth study of the company under its past two CEOs, focusing on how it effectively pursues its own foreign policy and deflects demands for fiscal and environmental accountability. I put six questions to Coll about his book: 1. Ida Tarbell published The History of …
The last years of Mozart’s life and the prodigious and important works he created during them have been heavily romanticized in the musical literature. Now, one of this generation’s leading musicologists wants to set the picture straight. In his new book, Mozart at the Gateway to His Fortune, Harvard professor Christoph Wolff carefully reconstructs Mozart’s patronage relationships, explores his engagement with Bach and other masters of the polyphonic tradition, and reassesses Mozart’s impassioned turn toward sacred music. I put six questions to Wolff about the book: 1. Many depictions of Mozart’s life, for instance Alfred Einstein’s, have tended to divide …
Six Questions — June 29, 2012, 10:51 am
After more than a decade spent writing on subjects as diverse as Uzbekistan, the Iraq War, and video-game voice-overs, Tom Bissell published his sixth book, a collection of some of his finest essays, this April. Titled Magic Hours: Essays On Creators and Creation, the book includes Harper’s Magazine pieces on film from 2000 and 2006, as well as his 2010 feature, “Cinema Crudité,” about the cult movie The Room. Harper’s put six questions to Bissell about art, film, and writing. 1. The first essay in your book, “Unflowered Aloes,” touches upon the role of chance in a writer’s success, pointing …
Henry Crumpton spent twenty-four years in the CIA’s clandestine service. His work put him at the forefront of the agency’s counterterrorism efforts, and on the front lines as America took on the Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan following 9/11. His recently published recollections offer an exceptionally deep glimpse into the CIA’s counterterrorism operations in the last decade of the twentieth century. I put six questions to Crumpton about his bestselling book The Art of Intelligence: 1. The 9/11 Commission and investigations developed in its wake turned up information suggesting that the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center (CTC) had acquired specific information …
Six Questions — June 21, 2012, 9:32 am
The last time Harper’s Magazine readers saw Gideon Lewis-Kraus was in 2009, when he diagnosed the diseases of the publishing world at the Frankfurt Book Fair and infiltrated the community of medical-marijuana growers in northern California. A few years ago, he moved to Berlin, where cheap rent had attracted a number of fellow writers and artists, and began using the city as a base of operations for the series of trips he recounts in A Sense of Direction: Pilgrimage for the Restless and the Hopeful, which Riverhead published in May. Lewis-Kraus’s search for catharsis through meaningful wandering took him to …
Six Questions — June 13, 2012, 9:48 am
Julie Otsuka is the author of two novels, When the Emperor Was Divine and The Buddha in the Attic, the latter of which was recently awarded the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction. The novel traces the lives of a group of Japanese “picture-brides” from their journey to the United States in 1917 to their departure for the internment camps of World War II. Narrated in the first-person plural, the book’s eight chapters focus on important moments in the women’s lives, such as their first nights with their new spouses. One of these episodes, “Whites,” was excerpted in the August 2011 issue …
The American Constitution has been the subject, just as Thomas Jefferson predicted, of a great deal of “sanctimonious reverence,” especially from American politicians who make comments demonstrating they know little about it. But the Constitution has few more-dedicated critics than political scientist and law professor Sanford Levinson, who has offered the most thorough explanation yet of why it has effectively ceased to be an attractive model to other nations around the world. I put six questions to Levinson about his new book, Framed: America’s 51 Constitutions and the Crisis of Governance: 1. We read the refrain “The system in Washington …
Jesselyn Radack came into the Justice Department through the Attorney General’s Honors Program and worked as an ethics adviser until she found herself embroiled in a scandal that arose because she dispensed advice senior political appointees didn’t want to hear. The scandal became aggravated when Justice officials made false statements about her advice in representations to a federal judge. Radack, a recipient of the 2012 Hugh M. Hefner First Amendment Award, is now the director of national security and human rights at the Government Accountability Project, where she counsels and represents whistleblowers. I put six questions to her about her …
Fleming awoke in the dark and his room felt loose, sloshing so badly he gripped the bed. From his window there was nothing but a hallway, and if he craned his neck, a blown lightbulb swung into view. The room pitched up and down and for a moment he thought he might be sick. The word “hallway” must have a nautical name. Why didn’t they supply a glossary for this cruise? Probably they had, in the welcome packet he’d failed to read. A glossary. A history of the boat, which would be referred to as a ship. Sunny biographies of the captain and crew, who had always dreamed of this life. Lobotomized histories of the islands they’d visit. Who else had sailed this way. Famous suckwads from the past, slicing through this very water on wooden longships.
A welcome packet, the literary genre most likely to succeed in the new millennium. Why not read about a community you don’t belong to, that doesn’t actually exist, a captain and crew who are, in reality, if that isn’t too much of a downer on your vacation, as indifferent to one another as any set of co-employees at an office or bank? Read doctored personal statements from underpaid crew members — because ocean life pays better than money! — who hate their lives but have been forced to buy into the mythology of working on a boat, separated now from loved ones and friends, growing lonelier by the second, even while they wait on you and follow your every order.
Rank of Detroit among major U.S. cities whose residents give the largest portion of their income to charity:
A South Dakota researcher concluded that only scant blood spatter results when chain saws are used to dismember pigs.
Four people were arrested for using a remote-controlled hexacopter to fly two pounds of tobacco to prisoners inside the yard at Calhoun State Prison in Georgia.
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Our congratulations to Alice Munro, winner of the 2013 Nobel Prize for Literature