Harper's

80 articles
Avatar_57x57

Team Spirit

Memories of life as a freshman cheerleader.

Avatar_57x57

The Pale Cast of Thought

The writer is reluctantly whisked away to to a small house in upstate New York to attend an ayhuasca ceremony with six strangers.

Avatar_57x57

The Lost Buddhas of Bamiyan

Picking up the pieces in Afghanistan.


We are reprinting this article on Longform to help raise money for the Matthew Power Literary Reporting Award, which every year will fund promising young writers to bring forward unreported stories of importance from overlooked corners of the world. Please donate today.

Avatar_57x57

How to Rig an Election

The perils of voting in the modern age.

Avatar_57x57

Ending College Sexual Assault

On the president’s campaign to crack down on campus rape.

Avatar_57x57

In Praise of Idleness

An argument for working less.

Avatar_57x57

Stranger in the Village

On being black in an all-white Swiss village.

Avatar_57x57

The Soft-Kill Solution

The future (and past) of non-lethal weaponry deployed against civilian populations.

Avatar_57x57

Disaster Aversion

The quest to control hurricanes.

Avatar_57x57

Opium Made Easy

It’s legal to buy poppy seeds in America and it’s legal to plant them—unless you’re familiar with the simple process of turning them into opium, that is. Then having poppies in your garden is a felony.

Avatar_57x57

The Radioactive Boy Scout

A suburban teen attempts to build a reactor, radioactivity ensues.

Avatar_57x57

The Man Who Saves You from Yourself

Going undercover with David Sullivan, cult infiltrator.

Avatar_57x57

The Devil's Bait

Exploring the riddle of Morgellons disease: sufferers feel things crawling under their skin and hardly anyone believes them.

Avatar_57x57

Down and Out at the Hotel Providence

Scenes from a Bowery flophouse.

Avatar_57x57

The Church of Warren Buffett

At the annual meeting of Berkshire Hathaway in Omaha.

Avatar_57x57
Avatar_57x57

The Master of the Murder Castle

The story of H.H. Holmes, America’s first serial killer.

Avatar_57x57

Home of the Whopper

Fast-food workers, the minimum wage, and a future served by robot labor.

Avatar_57x57

Like I Was Jesus

The gospel according to nine-year-olds; a missionary group that won the right to evangelize in schools and how children process their message.

Avatar_57x57

To Catch a Terrorist

The FBI hunts for the enemy within.

Avatar_57x57

Blood Spore

What a secret audio tape revealed about the murder of mycologist and magic mushroom pioneer Steven Pollock.

Avatar_57x57

The Way of All Flesh

Undercover in an industrial slaughterhouse.

Previously: Conover discusses this story on the Longform Podcast.

Avatar_57x57

Broken Heartland

The looming collapse of agriculture on the Great Plains.

Avatar_57x57

Sleeping Together

A visit to Tokyo’s first co-sleeping cafe, where one can pay a set fee to sleep next to a woman in 20 minute increments, though spooning, being patted on the head, and a change of pajamas are extra.

Avatar_57x57

Contest of Words

High school debate and the demise of public speech.

Avatar_57x57

The Unraveling of Bo Xilai

Tracking the circuitous fall of a Chinese political star.

Avatar_57x57

All Politics Is Local

Covering an election in Peru’s largest prison.

Avatar_57x57

A Court Of No Appeal

How one obscure sentence upset the New York Times.

Avatar_57x57

What Is Poetry? And Does It Pay?

A trip to the Famous Poets Society convention/contest in Reno.

Avatar_57x57

Welcome to Free Syria

Meeting the rebel government of an embattled country.

Avatar_57x57

Raiders of the Lost R2

Digging for Return of the Jedi set remnants in the desert.

Avatar_57x57

Happiness Is a Worn Gun

On wearing a concealed handgun and how it changed the author’s worldview.

Avatar_57x57

Mississippi Drift

An ill-fated trip down the river with a group of anarchists.

Avatar_57x57

Straight Man's Burden

A Ugandan bill that would threaten homosexuals with imprisonment, or in some cases death, has its roots in the shadowy American evangelical group known as the The Family.

Avatar_57x57

A Mind Dismembered

On the history of Nigerian penis theft.

Avatar_57x57

Wild Things

Animal nature, human racism, and the future of zoos.

Avatar_57x57

Monopoly Is Theft

The surprising anti-monopolist origins of the world’s most popular board game.

Avatar_57x57

Death of a Giant

Stalking bluefin tuna, the most valuable wild animal in the world.

Avatar_57x57
Avatar_57x57

My Platonic Sweetheart

In a posthumously published essay, Twain recounts dreams of a long-lost love.

Avatar_57x57

The Secret Mainstream

The life and films of Werner Herzog.

Avatar_57x57

Nickel and Dimed

On (not) getting by in America.

Avatar_57x57

American Vespers: The Ebbing of the Body Politic

A longtime Harper’s contributor considers America as he dies: “When I died, I died of many things: the failing systems; the weakening of age; the exhaustion of the long war against dying. Finally, I succumbed to the lack of ethics in a California hospital, killed by filth and neglect.”

Avatar_57x57

Tiny Little Laws

An investigation into sexual violence on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation.

Avatar_57x57

The Last Tower

The decline and fall of Cabrini-Green, Chicago’s infamous public housing development.

Avatar_57x57
Avatar_57x57

Music Is My Bag

A childhood spent with the oboe.

Avatar_57x57

Being Blanche

The author of Truly Tasteless Jokes unmasks herself.

Avatar_57x57

The Golden Touch

Attending the two-day-long “Crap$ 101” course, where aspiring craps players learn the Golden Touch system of betting, visualize dice tosses, and pursue the elusive “controlled throw.”

Avatar_57x57

Death By Landscape

An art collector reflects back on the summer camp of her childhood, and a dreadful occurrence.

"[T]hese paintings are not landscape paintings. Because there aren’t any landscapes up there, not in the old, tidy European sense, with a gentle hill, a curving river, a cottage, a mountain in the background, a golden evening sky. lnstead there’s a tangle, a receding maze, in which you can become lost almost as soon as you step off the path. There are no backgrounds in any of these paintings, no vistas; only a great deal of foreground that goes back and back, endlessly, involving you in its twists and turns of tree and branch and rock. No matter how far back in you go, there will be more. And the trees themselves are hardly trees; they are currents of energy. charged with violent color."

Avatar_57x57

Ivan the Recumbent, or Demjanjuk in Munich

A report from the trial of Ivan Demjanjuk—a.k.a. “The Last Nazi”—who died on March 17.

Avatar_57x57

Quitting the Paint Factory

Idleness is not just a psychological necessity, req­uisite to the construction of a complete human being; it constitutes as well a kind of political space, a space as necessary to the workings of an actual democracy as, say, a free press.
Avatar_57x57

Leveling the Field: What I Learned From For-Profit education

Undercover as a student at Phoenix University, the largest for-profit higher education company in the country and the second-largest enroller of students (behind the SUNY system), where only 12 percent of first-time students graduate and the ad budget accounts for 30 percent of overall spending.

Avatar_57x57

Mirrorings

The writer contemplates beauty and identity following reconstructive surgery.

There was a long period of time, almost a year, during which I never looked in a mirror. It wasn’t easy, for I’d never suspected just how omnipresent are our own images. I began by merely avoiding mirrors, but by the end of the year I found myself with an acute knowledge of the reflected image, its numerous tricks and wiles, how it can spring up at any moment: a glass tabletop, a well-polished door handle, a darkened window, a pair of sunglasses, a restaurant’s otherwise magnificent brass-plated coffee machine sitting innocently by the cash register.

Avatar_57x57

Trash, Art, and the Movies

There is so much talk now about the art of the film that we may be in danger of forgetting that most of the movies we enjoy are not works of art.
Avatar_57x57

In the Land of the Dear Leader

The author travels to North Korea in the years after Kim Jong Il’s succession. He also gets a haircut:

But suddenly the whole chair starts vibrating and I find myself surrendering to her, as she begins to knead the acupressure points on my forehead and neck. Next it's ginseng unguent all over my face. Gobs of pomade smelling like bubble gum go on my hair. Then, like a true daughter of the revolution, she upholsters her blow dryer and begins combing in the pomade and sculpting my now subdued hair. The pungent aroma of heated pomade, like fat frying in a pan, fills the room. My stylist gives my hair a little twist with the comb. It feels like she's making a Dairy Queen curl on top. Then she fries it in place with the dryer. Another dab of pomade. More mincing motions with the comb. Another blast of hot air. Suddenly I feel a moist breeze around my ears. She's taken out a can of imported aerosol spray and is cementing her creation in place. She's delicately patting my new coiffure now the way a baker taps a loaf of bread to see if it's springy to the touch. She murmurs something. I'm breathless with expectation. I open my eyes and gaze into the mirror. Magnifique! It looks like I have a loofah sponge on my head! I am reborn -- a cross between Elvis and a 1950s Bulgarian hydrology expert! At last I have become a true son of Pyongyang!

Avatar_57x57

The Master of the Murder Castle

On H.H. Holmes “an old hand at corpse manipulation and insurance fraud,” who built a house of death in 1890s Chicago.

Avatar_57x57

Barack and Hamid's Excellent Adventure

On the occasion of Hamid Karzai’s visit to the White House, a fever dream tour of the Afghanistan war through the eyes of the leaders who gave birth to its narrative.

Avatar_57x57

The Sicario: A Juárez Hit Man Speaks

The author travels to Mexico to meet a retired assassin and kidnapper, now himself a target of the faceless cartels that once employed him

Avatar_57x57

Run Like Fire Once More

On the world’s longest foot race, which takes place entirely within Queens, N.Y.:

Such were the hazards last summer in Jamaica, Queens, at the tenth running of the Self-Transcendence 3,100. The fifteen participants—all but two of them disciples of the Bengali Guru Sri Chinmoy, who has resided in the neighborhood for forty years—hailed from ten countries on three continents. They ran in all weather, seven days a week, from 6:00 a.m. to midnight, or until their bodies compelled them to rest. If they logged fewer than fifty miles on a given day, they risked disqualification. By their own reckoning, the runners climbed eight meters per lap, mounting and descending a spectral Everest every week and a half. They toiled in this fashion for six to eight weeks, however long it took them to complete 5,649 circuits—3,100 miles—around a single city block.

Avatar_57x57

A Comet's Tale

An investigation into The End.

Avatar_57x57

Small Blue Thing

Poe's "The Raven," reimagined

" That's right, buddy, the crow is talking. Pinch yourself; it isn't a dream. The crow is talking. Feed me meat."

Avatar_57x57

Moby-Duck: Or, the synthetic wilderness of childhood

In 1992, a Chinese freighter tipped violently in a storm dumping a load of plastic floatee toys—7,200 red beavers, 7,200 green frogs, 7,200 blue turtles, and 7,200 yellow ducks—to the open sea. This is their story.

Avatar_57x57

Scent of a Woman's Ink

An essay on gynobibliophobia and the critical reception of women writers.

Avatar_57x57

For whom the cell tolls

Why your phone may (or may not) be killing you.

Avatar_57x57

A Pilgrimage of Sin: Booze, Bombs, and Hookers in Islamic Thailand

A travelogue through the contradiction-rich and predominantly Muslim Southern Thailand.

Avatar_57x57

The Murder of Leo Tolstoy

The author attends a Tolstoy conference as a grad student. She wears flip-flops, sweatpants and a flannel shirt, and tries to determine if Tolstoy was murdered.

Avatar_57x57

Army of Altruists

This is the piece of writing that inspired me to make the turn from fiction and corporate research into journalism. It’s the best reframing of American society that I’ve ever read. And kudos to Harper’s for running it. It’s not often you see anarchist anthropologists making highly visible contributions to public discourse.

-A. Madrigal

Avatar_57x57

The Master of Spin Boldak

An undercover report on Afghanistan’s drug-smuggling border police that is now heavily used for intelligence training.

Avatar_57x57

Tea Party in the Sonora

On the political climate in Arizona.

Avatar_57x57

Inhaling the Spore

A trip to the Museum of Jurassic Technology in Los Angeles.

Avatar_57x57

Republic or Empire

Scenario-based forecasts on the future of America, in the style of the C.I.A’s National Intelligence Estimate.

Avatar_57x57

Bleak Houses

The author joins his father’s work crew, gutting out foreclosed houses in Florida and interviewing their former residents.

Avatar_57x57

The Ecstacy of Influence: A Plagiarism

Our debt, conscious or unconscious, to what has come before, and what it can tell us about copyright, the public domain, and the complicated relationship between creators and consumers.

Avatar_57x57

Jesus killed Mohammed

How the U.S. Army went evangelical and turned a war into a crusade.

Avatar_57x57

About Motorcycles

The poet and his love affair with Italian motorbikes (and also lots of women.)

Avatar_57x57

Out of Iraq

A war correspondent decides to rent a house in Baghdad to save money. Complications ensue.

Avatar_57x57

Rules for Drone Wars

A conversation with NYU Law Professor Philip Alston on the legality of ‘targeted killings’ by drones, which have made headlines in Pakistan, but also have been deployed by the C.I.A. in countries like Yemen.

Avatar_57x57

Detroit Arcadia

Wanders through the emptied post-American landscape.

Avatar_57x57

Obsessed With As The World Turns

“As a middle-aged queer, I could not break cover. And, as a middle-aged black man, I was embarrassed that these white boys from this melodrama mattered to me anyway.”