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From the Archive

Death Is for Suckers

Funeral Pyre, by Rockwell Kent © Plattsburgh State Art Museum, State University of New York. Bequest of Sally Kent Gorton. Purchased with the Lola Downin Peck Fund from the Carl…

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Every Beast of the Earth

St. Francis once converted a wolf to reason. The wolf of Gubbio promised to stop terrorizing an Italian town; he made pledges and assurances and pacts, and he kept his…

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The Enchanted Circle

I have just returned from forty-eight hours’ attendance at a bedside. My patient was a gentleman of forty who for eight years has habitually taken opium. He first learned its…

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Private Matters

It is often said that our Constitution is alive. As the Supreme Court reinterprets the law in different eras, our rights both grow and diminish—sometimes with glacial slowness, sometimes with…

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The Wicked Abroad

In Henry IV, the king on his deathbed gives his son and heir the ancient advice dear to the hearts of rulers in dire straits at home: I . .…

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Manhattan Magic

The incongruity is the fascination of it all. In New York, the most modern of all large cities, the very embodiment of twentieth-century youth, thrives superstition, gray with countless centuries…

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Made, Not Begotten

This is the new world that I read about at breakfast. This is the great age, make no mistake about it; the robot has been born somewhat appropriately along with…

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Dreamland

I once awoke from a dream while crossing Bond Street in New York with a friend, and it was snowing hard. We had been talking, and there had been no…

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The Other Side of the Coin

The entrance to Castle Garden was blocked up with vehicles, peddlers of cheap cigars, apple stands, and runners from the boarding houses and intelligence offices that abound in the neighborhood…

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The Good Citizen

“I have just had a gratifying illustration of the conscientious perfection of the American people in enacting and enforcing a law when they are agreed that it is really for…

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Life Is a Box of Chocolates

Wise heads tell us we act first, or decide to act first, and reason afterward. What could be put down in black and white as to why we took up…

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Grand Illusion

I’ve given the Second World War a uniformly bad press, rejecting all attempts to depict it as a sensible proceeding or to mitigate its cruelty and swinishness. I have rubbed…

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The Space Coast

We have perhaps created too much history too quickly—more than we can cope with. We know the cycles: birth, growth, glory, degeneration. Whom the gods wish to destroy, they first…

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Paradise Lost

Shea Stadium is not Eden, and the picture of Tom and Nancy Seaver leaving its graceless precincts in tears did not immediately remind me of the Expulsion of Adam and…

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In the Dark

All over the world thousands upon thousands of men and women pass their whole lives denouncing, instructing, commanding, cajoling, imploring their fellows. With what results? One finds it rather hard…

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The Dying Industry

The Hemlock Quarterly, an unassuming little newsletter that until recently was the chief perquisite of membership in the Hemlock Society, may have been the only radical publication in the United…

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Radical Nostalgia

The notion of the “nostalgic American” served liberals as an ideal whipping boy at a time when the intellectual foundations of liberalism were beginning to erode. As the dogma of…

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Too Much Art

Once again, the budgets of the agencies that support the arts are to be cut. Meanwhile, costs in the arts are going up. But one continues to read and hear…

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Profit and Loss

Among those people in New York who care about newspapers and who like to think of their content as something more than amusement, it has become increasingly difficult to find…

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The Great March

Atlanta in ruins. Originally published in the October 1865 issue of Harper’s Magazine “You cannot qualify war in harsher terms than I will. War is cruelty, and you cannot refine…

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The New Old Movies

I can’t remember exactly when the cinematic past became palpable for me. It was probably sometime in the late Fifties or early Sixties, when the mix of television screenings, museum…

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The Adversary

There is a large and historical callous on my right middle finger that marks how seriously I have taken the political demise of Richard Nixon. The protrusion is occasioned by…

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The Injustice Collector

Because I must, I accept that there are people who don’t care too much about those they bump into on the journey. They just want to enjoy a beer or…

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A Perfect Woman

It would be a bold writer who would attempt to have the last word on the much-­debated maternal instinct. But since so many men have had their say on the…

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The Sultan of Sewers

I never wanted to be President. This innate decision was confirmed when I became literate and saw the President pawing babies and spouting bullshit. I attended Los Alamos Ranch School,…

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Life During Wartime

Learning to Go to Sea on Shore, by George Wright. Originally published in the November 1918 issue of Harper’s Magazine It is a small hotel compared with the fashionable resorts…

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Who Is the Tyrant?

Revolver shots at three in the morning. As I stuck my head out the window, lights flared up and down the darkened block. More heads craned from open windows. Below…

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The Ideal State

People in Chicago will tell you that there is a happy land not far away. Sitting on the ash heap of their own miseries, they mournfully explain that just over…

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