Conversation — October 2, 2015, 8:26 am

Permission to Speak Frankly

“By committing to the great emotional extremes demanded by Greek tragedy,” says Bryan Doerries, author of The Theater of War, “the actors are in effect saying to the audience: ‘If you want to match our emotional intensity, that would be fine.’”

[Fall Jackets]

In September, theater director, translator, and writer Bryan Doerries published The Theater of War, a memoir, and All That You’ve Seen Here is God, translations of four Greek plays by Sophocles and Aeschylus.

41VTzTdb21L._SX316_BO1,204,203,200_

51EXW8Hp0DL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_

The events calendar at a liberal arts college can be overwhelming. There are guest lectures by visiting scholars and faculty lectures by colleagues; conferences on subjects of great cultural moment; student art shows and performances—dozens of opportunities for education, delight, and boredom. In February of 2012, at Bard College, where I teach, a colleague of mine, the classicist and writer James Romm, told me I might want to make time for an event called Acts of Violence. Described as a public health project that would present scenes from Seneca’s Thyestes, a Roman tragedy written during the reign of Nero, Acts of Violence was said to be “a catalyst for town hall discussions about the impact of political violence upon individuals, families, caregivers, health and human rights advocates, communities, and nations.” Because I have always harbored a private shame over not having become a classicist, pretty much anything that relates to the field I end up finding difficult to resist—even though the words “catalyst for town hall discussions” tend to make me want to go into hiding.

What unfolded that evening—an overwhelmingly powerful performance that did not so much catalyze as properly traumatize an audience of undergrads and professors into having a conversation as a community that was unlike any experience I’d had of theater before—changed the next several years of my life. I wrote about that experience in “You Are Not Alone Across Time,” which Harper’s Magazine published in October 2014.

At the center of that piece is Bryan Doerries, the creative director of Outside the Wire, a theater company that has been making such performances happen in schools, hospitals, prisons, and army bases around the world.  Now with more than a dozen different projects underway, Outside the Wire attempts to reach communities in need—in need of conversation about what they’re dealing with or have been unable to.

This month, Doerries is publishing two books that relate to his work. A memoir, the superb and moving The Theater of War; and All That You’ve Seen Here is GodDoerries’s vigorous translations of four Greek plays by Sophocles and Aeschylus. And rather than attempting to characterize the nature of the power of Doerries’s work, here are seventy seconds of rehearsal video to give you a sense of what his company of actors can manage.

The video was shot early one morning in the conference room of a Hilton Garden Inn in Joplin, Missouri, in May 2012. Doerries and his colleagues were there to perform Steven Mitchell’s translation of The Book of Job on the one-year anniversary of the day a tornado destroyed much of the town. The actors—Arliss Howard, who played Red Sox owner John W. Henry in Moneyball; David Strathairn, best known as Edward R. Murrow in Good Night, and Good Luck; and Paul Giamatti—are reading from their scripts for the first time as a group. You’ll see Howard, who played a variety of roles, and Strathairn, who played God, watch as Giamatti, as Job, rails against God. The pleasure that Howard, a total pro, nonetheless couldn’t mask at the spectacle of an actor, as Doerries puts it, “going for broke,” is the kind of reaction that I’ve seen Doerries direct his actors to draw from unlikely audiences all around the world. 

My conversation with Doerries follows.

In The Theater of War, you make a strong case against the interpretation of Sophocles’ plays—what they mean—in favor of coming to terms with what they do. Could you say a little about this idea of the plays’ meaning being something that exists outside interpretation and instead as something that is only experienced inside a theater?

One of the most powerful aspects of tragedy is its ability to move us out of our heads and into our guts. It’s not that the plays are meaningless, but they demand that we interpret them from within a heightened state of emotional awareness. People often say that they are “buzzing” after Theater of War performances. The plays are designed to do this, to move us from one cognitive state to another. And it’s only when people are vibrating and buzzing that the significance of Sophocles’ plays takes hold. 

I’ve been witness to the way that your company’s performances—in Japan, in Kentucky, in Queens, at Quantico—do as you say. It’s very hard, I found in writing about your work, to convey precisely how that shift in cognitive states feels. It makes me wonder, as you sat down to write Theater of War, how you thought you’d confront the fundamentally performative nature of your work.

It was a real struggle. I knew it would be impossible to create an experience for the reader that would be analogous to that of an audience member at one of our performances. So the challenge was how to convey the spirit of the experience of tragedy, and of our projects, for readers, on the page. At first, I thought I was writing a straightforward book about tragedy, which would make an argument and support it with research and rhetoric. Then, about a year into the process, I realized that the only way to reach readers and touch them as we had touched audience members was to take the gloves off and reveal something very personal and vulnerable about my own life story. It felt like a big risk, but essential to moving readers out of their heads and into their guts, so they could receive the rest of the book in a different way.

Were you surprised that offering those more personal revelations—you discuss, very movingly, the loss of your father to renal failure and of your former girlfriend, Laura Rothenberg, to cystic fibrosis—was so difficult? I’ve watched you curate conversations around the world in which soldiers, before their superior officers and audiences of hundreds of enlisted men, confess to depression and alcoholism and their suicide attempts. Why is it so difficult for us to be frank about experience when, as Diogenes is said to have said, frankness is the most beautiful thing in human life?

If I had one word to describe the work we do it’s “permission.” How many different ways can we give you, the audience member, permission to come forward and talk openly about some of the darkest parts of your life? The greatest tool for giving people permission to speak frankly about painful experiences is risk. The actors take the risk of performing Greek tragedy at full tilt in front of highly resistant audiences, audiences that are often there under orders. By committing to the great emotional extremes demanded by Greek tragedy, the actors are in effect saying to the audience: “If you want to match our emotional intensity, that would be fine. You have our permission to go as far as we have gone.” Then, the community panelists take the risk of being the first people to speak, openly and honestly, after each performance. Finally, audience members who rise to the challenge of my questions and reveal harrowing personal stories that they’ve never told in private, let alone in front of 400 of their peers, take the risk of speaking, thereby giving others in the audience permission to follow their lead. The entire model is based upon risk.

To answer your question, I am rarely in the position of revealing something personal before an audience. At least, not at first. Also, whenever I do reveal something about myself, it’s within a community of people who are doing the same. Writing a book is an extremely solitary act, and choosing to reveal something confessional about parts of my life that were painful and difficult to revisit, alone, at my desk, seemed like far more of risk, simply because I was alone when I did it.

The reason we have such a hard time talking frankly and openly about painful experiences is that our existences are increasingly isolated and circumscribed. Rarely these days do we find ourselves surrounded by the comfort and support of a community of people who want to listen. That’s what the projects aim to generate: a community of listeners. And, in a certain way, I hoped to write a book that would engage readers as part of a larger community to which they belonged but with which, for whatever reasons, they had lost touch.

Do you think that books, broadly speaking, including the novel as a form of storytelling and nonfiction forms of argument, do a less successful job of managing the job that Ancient Greek theater seems to have—surrounding us, by the very nature of the form of its delivery, with community? Is there something essential that has been lost in our overwhelming reliance—prior to the birth of film as a storytelling medium—on the printed form of communication? I’m asking you overlook the obvious gains that the printed word has given to civilization and focus instead on what we don’t get if we don’t get the communal experience of dramatic art. I’m thinking of a moment in your book where Brigadier General Loree Sutton, then the top psychiatrist in the military, wants to book a stadium and fill it with 30,000 soldiers—something you resist. You suggest that that would have been too large an audience to manage the intimate exchange that you hope happens with your audiences. Anyway, if Doerries were the U.S. art czar, what would you imagine would be the most useful addition, theatrically, to our lives? 

Theater is able to do something that no other medium can achieve. It leads disparate audiences into a profound communion, into an ineffable and transformative sense of interconnectedness. We have lost touch, as a culture, with the importance of coming together and confronting what it means to be human as a community. Theater, and tragedy in particular, has the power to do this. It’s no coincidence that Greek tragedy was born and reached its greatest heights alongside the birth and ascendance of Athenian democracy. Theater is an intrinsically democratic form, designed to bring us together and to remind us of our shared humanity. Theater in the United States, however, is embarrassingly impoverished. Not only do we need and deserve a subsidized, large-scale national theater, on par with the National Theatre in London or with some of the theaters in Paris and Berlin, but it is high time that we roll up our sleeves and, in the spirit of WPA Federal Theatre Project of the 1930s, invest in theater as essential to the very fabric of our democracy. This would mean developing new models to fund theater, models that would democratize the medium, which has become rarified and increasingly the province of the educated elite.

Other than the obvious impediment—money—to such an initiative, is there something less prosaic that now stands in the way of our wanting, as a culture, to go to theater? Are we just out of the habit, or is it something more? I’m thinking of the experience I had with your company of watching Paul Giamatti play Job in a 1,200-seat megachurch. The place seemed to vibrate with togetherness, and I suppose my sense is that there is very little communitarianism in the United States that isn’t based in religious life. I guess I’m wondering how discrete the experience of theater in ancient Greece was from religious life. They were always intertwined to some degree, no?

For fifth-century Athenians, attending and participating in the City Dionysia—the annual spring festival in which the plays of Sophocles and his contemporaries were presented—was a religious act. It began with a procession and a ritual sacrifice to Dionysus, the god of drama (and boundary dissolution). Theater today is primarily a product of an increasingly secularized world. However, theater still has the power to create a sacred space, in which we are transported out of our quotidian reality and brought into contact with the transcendent, the heroic, the mythic, and with one another. We still hunger, I think, for this experience, as people, as a culture. And in some ways, because it’s so rare, it’s all the more overpowering and effective when we encounter it.

Could you talk a little about a performance that I had wanted to see but didn’t get to: in Japan, following the Fukushima nuclear disaster? That seemed a stretch for your company, given that Japanese isn’t one of your languages. 

Through a partnership with Columbia University’s Global Mental Health Program, we developed a project for the Fukushima 3/11 survivors. Given how reluctant Japanese are to express their emotions, it was unclear in the beginning if we’d have any success getting people to talk openly about their experiences of the disaster and its aftermath. For one of the earliest performances, I adapted and directed a fifteenth-century Noh play called Sumida-gawa, about a grieving mother who loses her son. We presented a reading of the play for an audience of mothers who had relocated with their children from Fukushima to Tokyo. The actors performed in Japanese, and I listened through an interpreter, to the mothers respond. During the discussion, right out of the gates, one of the mothers told a harrowing story about trying to protect her child from radioactive food in the school cafeteria, and the room opened up in so many unexpected ways. Their biggest complaint was that we only gave them ninety minutes to talk. And it was then that I saw that even the most reticent of cultures could be reached this way. That we’re hardwired to respond—across culture and time—to dramatic stories. 

To allow for that talk to happen, you edit, very severely, what would be much longer pieces of theater down to under forty-five minutes, to allow for time for discussion, in part, but also to focus that discussion by focusing the material itself. I wonder two things: Could you imagine your outreach—your use of the plays to drive a community conversation—still working if you were to present complete plays more often? Or to ask it another way, do you aspire to present the plays in full, with or without a discussion component? 

That’s my ambition. Without question. Full productions that result in full discussions. Once audiences have been socialized to want this experience, in the nonprofit and even the commercial theater, I have no doubt they will commit the time and energy required by these events. 

So where does your forthcoming graphic novel fit into these very different ways of reaching communities and individuals in need?

Since theater is as a medium limited in the number of people it can reach, we have been looking for ways to extend Theater of War and other projects to people who may not be able to see a performance. So in some ways it’s just an extension of the same thought experiment. It’s called The Odyssey of Sergeant Jack Brennan, and it’s an adaptation of Homer’s Odyssey as told by a marine sergeant to his infantry squad on their last night “in country” before returning to the states after a grueling deployment to Afghanistan in 2011. It’s told in a marine’s words and language, and recounts only the parts of the Odyssey that he thinks are germane to the struggles his marines may soon encounter back home. The Defense Advance Research Projects Agency—DARPA—funded the development of the graphic novel, and Pantheon recently bought it and plans to release it in April of 2016.

All three books—the memoir, the volume of translations, and the graphic novel—are an attempt to extend the experience of Theater of War into forms that can reach new audiences where they live and draw them into dialogue with a larger community, across culture, space, and time. 

Share
Single Page

More from Wyatt Mason:

From the October 2014 issue

You Are Not Alone Across Time

Using Sophocles to treat PTSD

From the February 2010 issue

The untamed

Joshua Ferris’s restless-novel syndrome

Sentences May 1, 2009, 2:41 pm

Weekend Read: The Last Post

Get access to 168 years of
Harper’s for only $45.99

United States Canada

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

August 2018

Combustion Engines

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

There Will Always Be Fires

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The End of Eden

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

How to Start a Nuclear War

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Article
Combustion Engines·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

On any given day last summer, the smoke-choked skies over Missoula, Montana, swarmed with an average of twenty-eight helicopters and eighteen fixed-wing craft, a blitz waged against Lolo Peak, Rice Ridge, and ninety-six other wildfires in the Lolo National Forest. On the ground, forty or fifty twenty-person handcrews were deployed, alongside hundreds of fire engines and bulldozers. In the battle against Rice Ridge alone, the Air Force, handcrews, loggers, dozers, parachutists, flacks, forecasters, and cooks amounted to some nine hundred people.

Rice Ridge was what is known as a mega-fire, a recently coined term for blazes that cover more than 100,000 acres. The West has always known forest fires, of course, but for much of the past century, they rarely got any bigger than 10,000 acres. No more. In 1988, a 250,000-acre anomaly, Canyon Creek, burned for months, roaring across a forty-mile stretch of Montana’s Bob Marshall Wilderness in a single night. A few decades on, that anomaly is becoming the norm. Rice Ridge, for its part, swept through 160,000 acres.

At this scale, the firefighting operation is run by an incident management team, a group of about thirty specialists drawn from a mix of state and federal agencies and trained in fields ranging from aviation to weather forecasting and accounting to public information. The management teams are ranked according to experience and ability, from type 3 (the least skilled) to type 1 (the most). The fiercest fires are assigned to type 1s. Teams take the name of their incident commander, the field general, and some of those names become recognizable, even illustrious, in the wildfire-fighting community. One such name is that of Greg Poncin, who is to fire commanders what Wyatt Earp was to federal marshals.

Smoke from the Lolo Peak fire (detail) © Laura Verhaeghe
Article
There Will Always Be Fires·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The pinhal interior, a wooded region of hills and narrow hollows in rural central Portugal, used to be farmland. Well into the latter half of the past century, the fields were worked by peasants from the old stone villages. Portugal was poor and isolated, and the pinhal interior particularly so; when they could, the peasants left. There is electricity and running water now, but most of the people have gone. The fields have been taken over by trees. Each year the forest encroaches farther, and each year the villages grow more lonely. There are remnants of the earlier life, though, and amid the trees the holdouts of the older generations still work a few small fields. The pinhal interior cannot yet be called wilderness, then, and that, in large part, is why it burns.

Thousands of fires burn in the region each summer, almost all of them started not by lightning or some other natural spark but by the remaining Portuguese. (The great majority of the blazes are started unintentionally, though not all.) The pinhal interior—the name means “interior pine forest,” though today there is at least as much eucalyptus as pine—stretches along a sort of climate border between the semiarid Iberian interior and the wet influence of the Atlantic; vegetation grows exceptionally well there, and in the summers fire conditions are ideal. Still, most of the burns are quickly contained, and although they have grown larger in recent years, residents have learned to pay them little mind. The creeping fire that began in the dry duff and twigs of an oak grove on June 17 of last year, in the district of Pe­drógão Grande, therefore occasioned no panic.

A local woman, Dora da Silva Co­sta, drove past the blaze in the midafternoon, by which time it had entered a stand of pines. Firefighters were on hand. “There were no people in the streets,” Costa told me. “It was just another fire.” She continued on her way. It was a Saturday, and she had brought her two young sons to visit their older cousin in Vila Facaia, the village of small farms in which she’d been raised.

Firefighters near Pedrógão Grande (detail) © Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images
Article
The End of Eden·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

On a blistering morning in July 2017, Ghazi Luaibi rose before dawn and set out in a worn black sedan from his home in Zubair, a town of concrete low-rises in southern Iraq. He drove for a while along sandy roads strewn with plastic bags. On the horizon, he could see gas flares from the oil refineries, pillars of amber flame rising into the sky. As he approached Basra, the largest city in the province, desert scrub gave way to empty apartment blocks and rows of withered palms. Though the sun had barely risen, the temperature was already nearing 100 degrees Fahrenheit. The previous year, Basra had registered one of the highest temperatures ever reliably recorded on earth: about 129 degrees, hot enough to cause birds to drop from the sky.

Ghazi, a sixty-two-year-old with stooped shoulders, an ash-gray beard, and lively brown eyes, would have preferred to stay home and wait out the heat. But he hadn’t had much of a choice. He was the president of the local council of Mandaeans, members of a gnostic religion that appeared in Mesopotamia in the early centuries ad. Today marked the beginning of their new year, and Ghazi, who was born into the Mandaean priestly class, was responsible for making sure everything went smoothly: he needed to find a tent to shield worshippers from the sun and, most importantly, a location near flowing water where they could carry out the ceremony.

Mandaean holidays are celebrated with a mass baptism, a ritual that is deeply rooted in their scripture and theology. Mandaeans follow the teachings of Yahia Yuhana, known to Christians as John the Baptist. Water is central to their religion. They believe that all life originates in the World of Light, a spiritual realm that is the starting point for a great river known as Yardana, or Jordan. Outside the World of Light lie the lifeless, stagnant waters of the World of Darkness. According to one version of the Mandaean creation myth, a demiurge named Ptahil set out to shape a new world from the World of Darkness, which became the material world we inhabit today. Once the world was complete, Ptahil sculpted Adam, the first man, from the same dark waters as the earth, but his soul came from the World of Light. In Mandaean scripture, rivers are manifestations of the World of Light, coursing from the heavenly Jordan to the earth to purify it. To be baptized is to be immersed in this divine realm.

Basra General Hospital (detail) July 2017 © Alex Potter
Article
How to Start a Nuclear War·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Serving as a US Air Force launch control officer for intercontinental missiles in the early Seventies, First Lieutenant Bruce Blair figured out how to start a nuclear war and kill a few hundred million people. His unit, stationed in the vast missile fields at Malmstrom Air Force Base, in Montana, oversaw one of four squadrons of Minuteman II ­ICBMs, each missile topped by a W56 thermonuclear warhead with an explosive force of 1.2 megatons—eighty times that of the bomb that destroyed Hiroshima. In theory, the missiles could be fired only by order of the president of the United States, and required mutual cooperation by the two men on duty in each of the launch control centers, of which there were five for each squadron.

In fact, as Blair recounted to me recently, the system could be bypassed with remarkable ease. Safeguards made it difficult, though not impossible, for a two-man crew (of either captains or lieutenants, some straight out of college) in a single launch control center to fire a missile. But, said Blair, “it took only a small conspiracy”—of two people in two separate control centers—to launch the entire squadron of fifty missiles, “sixty megatons targeted at the Soviet Union, China, and North Korea.” (The scheme would first necessitate the “disabling” of the conspirators’ silo crewmates, unless, of course, they, too, were complicit in the operation.) Working in conjunction, the plotters could “jury-rig the system” to send a “vote” by turning keys in their separate launch centers. The three other launch centers might see what was happening, but they would not be able to override the two votes, and the missiles would begin their firing sequence. Even more alarmingly, Blair discovered that if one of the plotters was posted at the particular launch control center in overall command of the squadron, they could together format and transmit a “valid and authentic launch order” for general nuclear war that would immediately launch the entire US strategic nuclear missile force, including a thousand Minuteman and fifty-four Titan missiles, without the possibility of recall. As he put it, “that would get everyone’s attention, for sure.” A more pacifically inclined conspiracy, on the other hand, could effectively disarm the strategic force by formatting and transmitting messages invalidating the presidential launch codes.

When he quit the Air Force in 1974, Blair was haunted by the power that had been within his grasp, andhe resolved to do something about it. But when he started lobbying his former superiors, he was met with indifference and even active hostility. “I got in a fair scrap with the Air Force over it,” he recalled. As Blair well knew, there was supposed to be a system already in place to prevent that type of unilateral launch. The civilian leadership in the Pentagon took comfort in this, not knowing that the Strategic Air Command, which then controlled the Air Force’s nuclear weapons, had quietly neutralized it.

This reluctance to implement an obviously desirable precaution might seem extraordinary, but it is explicable in light of the dominant theme in the military’s nuclear weapons culture: the strategy known as “launch under attack.” Theoretically, the president has the option of waiting through an attack before deciding how to respond. But in practice, the system of command and control has been organized so as to leave a president facing reports of incoming missiles with little option but to launch. In the words of Lee Butler, who commanded all US nuclear forces at the end of the Cold War, the system the military designed was “structured to drive the president invariably toward a decision to launch under attack” if he or she believes there is “incontrovertible proof that warheads actually are on the way.” Ensuring that all missiles and bombers would be en route before any enemy missiles actually landed meant that most of the targets in the strategic nuclear war plan would be destroyed—thereby justifying the purchase and deployment of the massive force required to execute such a strike.

Among students of nuclear command and control, this practice of precluding all options but the desired one is known as “jamming” the president. Blair’s irksome protests threatened to slow this process. When his pleas drew rejection from inside the system, he turned to Congress. Eventually the Air Force agreed to begin using “unlock codes”—codes transmitted at the time of the launch order by higher authority without which the crews could not fire—on the weapons in 1977. (Even then, the Navy held off safeguarding its submarine-launched nuclear missiles in this way for another twenty years.)

Following this small victory, Blair continued to probe the baroque architecture of nuclear command and control, and its extreme vulnerability to lethal mishap. In the early Eighties, while working with a top-secret clearance for the Office of Technology Assessment, he prepared a detailed report on such shortcomings. The Pentagon promptly classified it as SIOP-ESI—a level higher than top secret. (SIOP stands for Single Integrated Operational Plan, the US plan for conducting a nuclear war. ESI stands for Extremely Sensitive Information.) Hidden away in the Pentagon, the report was withheld from both relevant senior civilian officials and the very congressional committees that had commissioned it in the first place.

From positions in Washington’s national security think tanks, including the Brookings Institution, Blair used his expertise and scholarly approach to gain access to knowledgeable insiders at the highest ranks, even in Moscow. On visits to the Russian capital during the halcyon years between the Cold War’s end and the renewal of tensions in the twenty-first century, he learned that the Soviet Union had actually developed a “dead hand” in ultimate control of their strategic nuclear arsenal. If sensors detected signs of an enemy nuclear attack, the USSR’s entire missile force would immediately launch with a minimum of human intervention—in effect, the doomsday weapon that ends the world in Dr. Strangelove.

Needless to say, this was a tightly held arrangement, known only to a select few in Moscow. Similarly chilling secrets, Blair continued to learn, lurked in the bowels of the US system, often unknown to the civilian leadership that supposedly directed it. In 1998, for example, on a visit to the headquarters of Strategic Command (­STRATCOM), the force controlling all US strategic nuclear weapons, at Offutt Air Force Base, near Omaha, Nebraska, he discovered that the ­­­STRATCOM targeting staff had unilaterally chosen to interpret a presidential order on nuclear targeting in such a way as to reinsert China into the ­SIOP, from which it had been removed in 1982, thereby provisionally consigning a billion Chinese to nuclear immolation. Shortly thereafter, he informed a senior White House official, whose reaction Blair recalled as “surprised” and “befuddled.”

In 2006, Blair founded Global Zero, an organization dedicated to ridding the world of nuclear weapons, with an immediate goal of ending the policy of launch under attack. By that time, the Cold War that had generated the ­SIOP and all those nuclear weapons had long since come to an end. As a result, part of the nuclear war machine had been dismantled—warhead numbers were reduced, bombers taken off alert, weapons withdrawn from Europe. But at its heart, the system continued unchanged, officially ever alert and smooth running, poised to dispatch hundreds of precisely targeted weapons, but only on receipt of an order from the commander in chief.

Bombhead, by Bruce Conner (detail) © Conner Family Trust, San Francisco, and ARS, New York City. Courtesy Kohn Gallery, Los Angeles

Amount of aid Connecticut agreed in May to provide Bridgewater Associates, the world’s largest hedge fund:

$22,000,000

A survey of national narcissism found that Russians see themselves as responsible for 61 percent of world history, whereas the Swiss put themselves at 11 percent

Marvel Entertainment's CEO exerts influence over the VA; Mike Pence lays out plans for The Space Force; Paul Manafort's trial reveals his tax evasion (and much more)

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

HARPER’S FINEST

Happiness Is a Worn Gun

By

Illustration by Stan Fellows

Illustration by Stan Fellows

“Nowadays, most states let just about anybody who wants a concealed-handgun permit have one; in seventeen states, you don’t even have to be a resident. Nobody knows exactly how many Americans carry guns, because not all states release their numbers, and even if they did, not all permit holders carry all the time. But it’s safe to assume that as many as 6 million Americans are walking around with firearms under their clothes.”

Subscribe Today