Lewis H. Lapham is editor emeritus at Harper’s Magazine. He served as editor from 1976 to 1981 and again from 1983 to 2006. His first Easy Chair columns were published in the early 1970s, and he wrote them with greater frequency in 1976. After first leaving the editorship, he took a break from the column, but picked up it again in 1984, retitling it Notebook and publishing it on a monthly basis until 2010. In 1995 Notebook won the National Magazine Award for exhibiting “an exhilarating point of view in an age of conformity,” and in 2002 it received the Thomas Paine Journalism Award. In 2007 he founded Lapham’s Quarterly, of which he is also editor, and was inducted into the American Society of Magazine Editors’ Hall of Fame.
Lapham led the Harper’s redesign in 1984, which included the creation of the Index, Annotations, and Readings sections, following his acknowledgment that the magazine “knows not nearly enough about what its first editors described as ‘the varied intellectual movements of this most stirring and productive age.’” Harper’s would thenceforth provide “texts meant to incite acts of the imagination rather than facilitate the transfers of data, not to provide ready-made answers but to say, in effect, look at this, see how much more beautiful and strange and full of possibility is the world than can be dreamed of by the mythographers at NBC and Time.”
He has also written for Life, Commentary, the National Review, Elle, Forbes, The American Spectator, Golf Digest, Maclean's, the London Observer, and the New York Times, among other publications. He is the author of numerous books, including Waiting for the Barbarians (1997), Theater of War (2003), Gag Rule (2004), Pretensions to Empire (2006), and, most recently, Age of Folly (2016). He hosts the weekly Bloomberg podcast The World in Time. The New York Times has likened him to H. L. Mencken; Vanity Fair has suggested a strong resemblance to Mark Twain; and Tom Wolfe compared him to Michel de Montaigne.