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[Editor's Note]

Introducing the February 2014 Issue


How Germany reconquered Europe, the impending demise of the A-10 Warthog, and two tales of bad romance

Harper's Magazine, February 2014How has Germany, which once dominated Europe by military means, come to dominate it through economic ones? That is the question explored by this month’s cover story. We convened a Forum featuring participants from both Europe and the United States — John Gray, from the United Kingdom; Emmanuel Todd, from France; Ulrike Guérot and Christiane Lemke, from Germany; Jamie Galbraith and Jeff Madrick from the United States — to weigh the pros and cons of the Eurozone. Their lively roundtable discussion, which we held in the policy-friendly precinct of Washington, D.C., often grew heated. Among the topics discussed were: Is the Eurozone working to the benefit of all member countries? How is the United States affected by events in the Eurozone? Does the Eurozone have a future? And if not, what is there to replace it?

Our Washington editor, Andrew Cockburn, whose last article for the magazine was about the myth of foreign policy, reports on a weapons program we can actually like — but that may soon be dismantled. The A-10 Warthog, which the Air Force developed in the 1970s to support ground troops, can fly low enough to allow its pilots to get a close view of events on the ground. But in the age of drones and high-altitude bombers, the A-10 no longer serves the purposes of our military — a military that prefers to be as remote as possible from its targets.

In celebration of Valentine’s Day, we have a report on the romance novel, by far the most popular and lucrative genre in publishing. In his first article for the magazine, Jesse Barron goes to Las Vegas for the Romance Novel Convention, where he encounters not only authors and cover models, but a strange brew of marketing savvy and sexual titillation. By weaving in the story of the kidnapping of a sixteen-year-old California girl, which occurred simultaneously with his trip, Barron also explores the dark side of a genre that (especially in a post–Fifty Shades world) delights in depicting the pleasures of violent sex.

An even darker side of romance rears its head in “A God More Powerful Than I,” the love story of a stalker. Writer Sam Knight recounts the history of Jude Le Grice, a troubled young man who fancies himself in love with a young woman named Rebecca. Though he is eventually diagnosed as schizophrenic and hospitalized, he continues his so-called courtship of Rebecca, who is indifferent to his advances and goes on to marry somebody else. Knight’s portrait is nuanced and ultimately sympathetic to Jude, without dodging the tricky and perhaps dangerous distinction between a smitten lover and an obsessive stalker.

Also in this issue: novelist Colin McAdam on the complicated pleasure he finds in drinking a spectacular whisky, Jeff Madrick on the election of Bill de Blasio as mayor of New York; new fiction by David Means and Joy Williams; Gary Greenberg on Dale Carnegie and self-help guides; and Masha Gessen joins the family of a member of Pussy Riot as they visit her in a Russian prison.

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