Editor's Note — March 13, 2014, 8:00 am

Introducing the April 2014 Issue

How to be your own best doctor, a drone’s-eye view of America, and drought threatens the Southwest

Harper's Magazine, April 2014The older I get, the more I relish a little certainty in my life — and like most people, I look to doctors to supply it, at least to some degree. But in a world of futuristic instruments, shiny white furniture, and snappy assistants, that certainty is harder and harder to come by. For Heidi Julavits, who wrote “Diagnosis This,” the cover story for the April 2014 issue, the medical world is a gray zone, filled with conflicting views and endless, expensive conjecture. Attempting to determine the cause of a mysterious ailment, she consults a series of specialists — but also turns to literature and the Internet as diagnostic tools. Her quest is a fascinating look at modern medicine and how it is administered.

Contributing editor Christopher Ketcham, who last wrote for the magazine on a homeowners’ revolt against the banks, reports this month on the dying Colorado River, which has been diverted by a series of dams to supply water to the parched Southwest. Ketcham rafts down the river from Utah to Arizona with an environmentalist and the water manager for the city of Denver — two men with dramatically opposed views on how this precious resource should be used. But a solution must be found, since neither the cities of the Southwest nor California agriculture can ultimately survive if the river runs dry.

This month marks the first time we’ve used photography as our Folio. Tomas van Houtryve bought a drone on Amazon.com and modified it to accommodate a small camera and equipment for transmitting video back to the ground. The aerial photographs he took — of groups of people at weddings, funerals, and prisons — are eerie reminders of the drones the U.S. government deploys to carry out airstrikes in Pakistan, Somalia, and Yemen, and of their even more troubling use as tools of domestic surveillance.

Our short fiction is an imaginative reconstruction of what happened between Dominique Strauss-Kahn and Nafissatou Diallo on May 14, 2011, at New York’s Sofitel. Told from Strauss-Kahn’s point of view, Ken Kalfus’s “Coup de Foudre” plausibly explains some of the more inexplicable details behind that historic, distinctly unsavory encounter, all the while treading a fine line between satire and satyriasis.

Also in this issue: Christopher Cox explores the balance between safety and surveillance, highlighting New York City mayor Bill de Blasio’s decision to halt the police department’s stop-and-frisk program and the National Security Agency’s ongoing obfuscations; Andrew J. Bacevich skewers the diaries of American diplomat George F. Kennan, one of the prime architects of the Cold War; and Lawrence Jackson examines the life of Carl Van Vechten, an American writer and photographer who promoted many black artists and neatly blurred the line between fan, impresario, and (in the words of his biographer) “sideshow gimcrack barker.”

Share
Single Page

More from Ellen Rosenbush:

Editor's Note July 21, 2016, 3:35 pm

Inside the August Issue

Martin Amis on the rise of Trump, Tom Wolfe on the origins of speech, Art Spiegelman on Si Lewen, fiction by Diane Williams, and more

Editor's Note June 16, 2016, 3:38 pm

Inside the July Issue

Tom Bissell on touring Israel with Christian Zionists, Joy Gordon on the Cuban embargo, Lawrence Jackson on Freddie Gray and the makings of an American uprising, a story by Paul Yoon, and more

Editor's Note May 13, 2016, 1:31 pm

Inside the June Issue

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.

Get access to 167 years of
Harper’s for only $45.99

United States Canada

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

November 2017

Preaching to The Choir

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Monumental Error

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Star Search

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Pushing the Limit

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Bumpy Ride

Bad Dog

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Article
Monumental Error·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

In 1899, the art critic Layton Crippen complained in the New York Times that private donors and committees had been permitted to run amok, erecting all across the city a large number of “painfully ugly monuments.” The very worst statues had been dumped in Central Park. “The sculptures go as far toward spoiling the Park as it is possible to spoil it,” he wrote. Even worse, he lamented, no organization had “power of removal” to correct the damage that was being done.

Illustration by Steve Brodner
Article
Star Search·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

On December 3, 2016, less than a month after Donald Trump was elected president, Amanda Litman sat alone on the porch of a bungalow in Costa Rica, thinking about the future of the Democratic Party. As Hillary Clinton’s director of email marketing, Litman raised $180 million and recruited 500,000 volunteers over the course of the campaign. She had arrived at the Javits Center on Election Night, arms full of cheap beer for the campaign staff, minutes before the pundits on TV announced that Clinton had lost Wisconsin. Later that night, on her cab ride home to Brooklyn, Litman asked the driver to pull over so she could throw up.

Illustration by Taylor Callery
Article
Pushing the Limit·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

In the early Eighties, Andy King, the coach of the Seawolves, a swim club in Danville, California, instructed Debra Denithorne, aged twelve, to do doubles — to practice in the morning and the afternoon. King told Denithorne’s parents that he saw in her the potential to receive a college scholarship, and even to compete in the Olympics. Tall swimmers have an advantage in the water, and by the time Denithorne turned thirteen, she was five foot eight. She dropped soccer and a religious group to spend more time at the pool.

Illustration by Shonagh Rae
Article
Bumpy Ride·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

One sunny winter afternoon in western Michigan, I took a ride with Leon Slater, a slight sixty-four-year-old man with a neatly trimmed white beard and intense eyes behind his spectacles. He wore a faded blue baseball cap, so formed to his head that it seemed he slept with it on. Brickyard Road, the street in front of Slater’s home, was a mess of soupy dirt and water-filled craters. The muffler of his mud-splattered maroon pickup was loose, and exhaust fumes choked the cab. He gripped the wheel with hands leathery not from age but from decades moving earth with big machines for a living. What followed was a tooth-jarring tour of Muskegon County’s rural roads, which looked as though they’d been carpet-bombed.

Photograph by David Emitt Adams
Article
Bad Dog·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Abby was a breech birth but in the thirty-one years since then most everything has been pretty smooth. Sweet kid, not a lot of trouble. None of them were. Jack and Stevie set a good example, and she followed. Top grades, all the way through. Got on well with others but took her share of meanness here and there, so she stayed thoughtful and kind. There were a few curfew or partying things and some boys before she was ready, and there was one time on a school trip to Chicago that she and some other kids got caught smoking crack cocaine, but that was so weird it almost proved the rule. No big hiccups, master’s in ecology, good state job that lets her do half time but keep benefits while Rose is little.

Illustration by Katherine Streeter

Estimated portion of French citizens with radical-Islamist beliefs who grew up in Muslim families:

1/5

Human hands are more primitive than chimp hands.

Trump declared flashlights obsolete as he handed them out to Puerto Ricans, 90 percent of whom had no electricity in their homes; and tweeted that he wouldn’t keep providing federal hurricane relief “forever” to Puerto Rico, a US territory that the secretary of energy referred to as a “country.”

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

HARPER’S FINEST

Report — From the June 2013 issue

How to Make Your Own AR-15

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

By

"Gun owners have long been the hypochondriacs of American politics. Over the past twenty years, the gun-rights movement has won just about every battle it has fought; states have passed at least a hundred laws loosening gun restrictions since President Obama took office. Yet the National Rifle Association has continued to insist that government confiscation of privately owned firearms is nigh. The NRA’s alarmism helped maintain an active membership, but the strategy was risky: sooner or later, gun guys might have realized that they’d been had. Then came the shootings at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, and at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, followed swiftly by the nightmare the NRA had been promising for decades: a dedicated push at every level of government for new gun laws. The gun-rights movement was now that most insufferable of species: a hypochondriac taken suddenly, seriously ill."

Subscribe Today