68 episodes

Harper’s Magazine, the oldest general-interest monthly in America, explores the issues that drive our national conversation, through long-form narrative journalism and essays, and such celebrated features as the iconic Harper’s Index. With its emphasis on fine writing and original thought Harper’s provides readers with a unique perspective on politics, society, the environment, and culture. The essays, fiction, and reporting in the magazine’s pages come from promising new voices, as well as some of the most distinguished names in American letters, among them Annie Dillard, Barbara Ehrenreich, Jonathan Franzen, Mary Gaitskill, David Foster Wallace, and Tom Wolfe.

The Harper’s Podcast Harper’s Magazine

    • News
    • 4.4, 80 Ratings

Harper’s Magazine, the oldest general-interest monthly in America, explores the issues that drive our national conversation, through long-form narrative journalism and essays, and such celebrated features as the iconic Harper’s Index. With its emphasis on fine writing and original thought Harper’s provides readers with a unique perspective on politics, society, the environment, and culture. The essays, fiction, and reporting in the magazine’s pages come from promising new voices, as well as some of the most distinguished names in American letters, among them Annie Dillard, Barbara Ehrenreich, Jonathan Franzen, Mary Gaitskill, David Foster Wallace, and Tom Wolfe.

    This Is Not a Test

    This Is Not a Test

    Disaster City is the name of a training compound in College Station, Texas, where first responders prepare for catastrophic scenarios through hands-on practice. In “This Is Not a Test,” his July cover story, Barrett Swanson visits Disaster City to participate in a simulated catastrophe, uncovering in the process the dark side of our society’s fixation on disaster preparedness. In narrating his experience as one of the simulation’s “Victim Volunteers,” Swanson ferries us through the compound’s funhouse-mirror vision of America, complete with elaborate replicas of real disasters such as a bombed-out parking garage and a tornado-shredded motel.

    But there’s something disturbing lurking within this “Disneyland for first responders.” Much like the real Disneyland, Swanson suggests, the function of Disaster City is to obscure the way the world outside the park really works. As the emblem of the American preparedness mindset, Disaster City “seems to sanction and sacralize the inevitability of catastrophes”—at the expense of a deeper reckoning with the structural problems that produce them. According to this mindset, there can only ever be triage, as opposed to true prevention. In this episode, Barrett Swanson joins Harper’s Magazine web editor Violet Lucca to explore the lessons he learned while reporting from Disaster City, and how they might apply to the disaster in which we now find ourselves. The two discuss the inspiration Swanson drew from his personal experiences with obsessive-compulsive disorder; the lessons we failed to learn from the Gulf War and Hurricane Katrina; and how French critical theory anticipated our current system of disaster capitalism.

    Read Swanson’s article: https://harpers.org/archive/2020/07/this-is-not-a-test-disaster-city-texas/

    This episode was produced by Violet Lucca and Andrew Blevins.

    • 39 min
    Grand Designs

    Grand Designs

    Public housing has had an embattled history in the United States. It’s been a constant site of political struggle, from its heyday in the Thirties to its erosion under the Reagan Administration in the Eighties. In the June issue of Harper’s Magazine, Ian Volner explores that struggle through one of its principal characters: his grandfather Kelsey Volner, who began his career in public housing and ended it in disgrace in the private sector. In telling his grandfather’s story, Volner finds a parable for the fate of affordable housing in this country.

    But there has been a sea change in recent years. Responding to rising discontent with skyrocketing real estate prices, advocates have renewed their efforts to build affordable developments. In the face of a myriad of obstacles—“from local opposition to byzantine funding requirements and state-level interference,” as Volner writes—they have employed a variety of canny tactics to piece together their projects. Volner tells the stories behind new affordable housing complexes in Queens, Austin, Texas, and Jackson, Wyoming, to illustrate the way that “designers and developers have learned to adapt, grafting an entire subeconomy onto a warped bureaucratic rootstock.” In this episode, Harper’s web editor Violet Lucca and Volner delve into the broader issues surrounding the contemporary housing crisis, epitomized by the condo boom and brought to a boil by the coronavirus pandemic. They discuss public housing’s aesthetics and socioeconomic demographics; its stigmatization at the hands of the right; and where we go should from here to guarantee housing for all.

    Read Volner’s article here: https://harpers.org/archive/2020/06/grand-designs-affordable-housing/

    This episode was produced by Violet Lucca and Andrew Blevins.

    • 41 min
    Tests of Time

    Tests of Time

    The June issue marks the 170th anniversary of Harper’s Magazine. As Harper’s editor Christopher Beha notes in his new column, Editor’s Desk, the magazine has published “more than two thousand issues, few of them produced under such challenging circumstances.” In this episode, web editor Violet Lucca speaks with Beha about the challenges of creating a magazine while the world is on lockdown, as well as the larger question of how to begin processing the enormity of this pandemic and its economic and political fallout.

    Read Beha’s column: https://harpers.org/archive/2020/06/tests-of-time-covid-19/

    This episode was produced by Violet Lucca and Andrew Blevins.

    • 26 min
    The Pessimistic Style in American Politics

    The Pessimistic Style in American Politics

    Political organizing during a worldwide lockdown is hard if not impossible, and embattled authoritarian regimes the world over are surely breathing sighs of relief. In the United States, surging unemployment rates continue to break records, and a world-historical depression seems inevitable. Op-ed columnists everywhere from the Wall Street Journal to the Washington Post have taken the opportunity to publicly wring their hands about another impending surge of “populism”—their favored name for a tendency that is said to encompass both the rise of anti-democratic demagogues like Donald Trump and the mass appeal of the progressive Bernie Sanders. Where did this word come from, and how can it mean so many different things?
    In his May cover story for Harper’s Magazine, the historian Thomas Frank tells the story of the term’s optimistic invention by members of the People’s Party of the late nineteenth century—a mass movement of farmers and factory workers who mounted what Frank calls “our country’s final serious effort at breaking the national duopoly of the Republicans and Democrats.” While the Populist movement is seldom remembered today, Frank’s excavation of the era’s anti-Populist rhetoric shows that the hatred and fear that class-based politics inspired—even including some specific insults—have never really gone away.
    In this episode, web editor Violet Lucca speaks with Thomas Frank—author of Listen, Liberal and What’s the Matter with Kansas?—about the roots of his interest in Populism; the undeniable charm and pernicious wrongness of Richard Hofstadter; what to do with the momentum of the Sanders campaign; and the research that went into Frank’s new book, The People, No: A Brief History of Anti-Populism, soon to be available from Metropolitan Books.

    Read Frank’s essay: https://harpers.org/archive/2020/05/how-the-anti-populists-stopped-bernie-sanders/

    This episode was produced by Violet Lucca and Andrew Blevins

    • 51 min
    Constant Delighted Astonishment

    Constant Delighted Astonishment

    The film maudit (“cursed film”) is a genre that everyone is familiar with, even if you’ve never heard its name. They are movies—usually very expensive ones—that were derided upon their initial release, but came to be appreciated many years later by scholars and cinephiles. Jacques Tati’s PlayTime (1967) is one of the most prominent examples, and its reputation only continues to grow. Following the success of his Academy Award–winning Mon Oncle, Tati, the writer, director, and star, decided to skewer the excesses and alienation of modern city life on a grand scale: he had a miniature city built on the outskirts of Paris, complete with paved roads and skyscrapers built from glass and steel. For eighteen months, Tati shot complicated visual gags on extra-wide 65-mm film stock and mimed the actions for every one of the hundreds of extras so that they could copy his movements; he also designed and recorded much of its soundtrack. Despite this painstaking work, PlayTime was dropped by its American distributor, while in France, the film’s critique of modernity was written off as shopworn. The comedian made two more feature-length films on increasingly smaller scales, but he never recovered—financially or emotionally—from the rejection of PlayTime.

    Now, PlayTime regularly appears on lists of the best films of all time. It has been restored multiple times, and gets special runs at art houses around the world. Tati’s notorious film maudit has also gone on to inspire directors such as David Lynch and Wes Anderson. In this episode of the podcast, Harper’s Magazine web editor Violet Lucca discusses PlayTime, as well as the director’s other work, with Geoffrey O’Brien, whose review of the book The Definitive Jacques Tati appeared in the May issue. As their conversation reveals, Tati’s filmography has eerie and fascinating echoes in today’s world.

    Read O’Brien’s review here: https://harpers.org/archive/2020/05/constant-delighted-astonishment-jacques-tati/

    This episode was produced by Violet Lucca and Andrew Blevins.

    • 34 min
    Dream State

    Dream State

    In June 2019, mass protests erupted in Hong Kong in response to a bill that would have allowed the extradition of fugitives to mainland China. As the protests continued throughout the year, the objectives shifted, and a broader, more complex, and increasingly violent movement emerged. The movement quickly converged around five key demands: the complete withdrawal of the extradition bill, the establishment of an independent inquiry to investigate police brutality, withdrawal of the label of protesters as “rioters,” release of those arrested at protests, and universal suffrage in Hong Kong. While it has drawn on the tactics of political movements from the past, including those of anticommunist activism in Eastern Europe, the movement is distinctly contemporary. Decisions are made through encrypted chat apps, and Hong Kongers from diverse sectors of society participate. Yi-Ling Liu reports on the evolution of these protests in “Dream State,” published in the May issue of Harper’s Magazine, and reveals that though the protesters have five demands at the moment, far more sweeping changes could be realized.

    Born in Hong Kong to parents from mainland China, Yi-Ling Liu grew up moving between multiple worlds. In her early adolescence, Liu’s cultural ambiguity remained unremarkable. But as the number of mainland tourists in Hong Kong grew, the perception of mainlanders as rude and uncivilized (they are sometimes called “locusts”) spread. In “Dream State,” Liu describes Hong Kong during the protests from the perspective of a Hong Konger with a mainlander’s name. In this week’s episode of the podcast, Liu discusses her article with host and web editor Violet Lucca. They discuss the origins and evolution of the Hong Kongers’ demands, the ways that the COVID-19 outbreak has changed the protests, how xenophobia has spread with the virus, the generational rift in the movement, and surveillance as a component of protest.

    Read Liu’s article here: https://harpers.org/archive/2020/05/dream-state-hong-kong-protests/

    This episode was produced by Violet Lucca and Andrew Blevins.

    • 39 min

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5
80 Ratings

80 Ratings

gokuryan40 ,

Thomas Frank

Your best episode.

Okay Curt ,

meh more left wing garbage

I received a mailer from Harpers that really touted their independent mind set, so I decided to give their podcast a listen to see if was really what they were saying.
And long story short, it is not. It is more of the same; Trump bashing, anyone who works for the administration is circumspect.
The titles to their podcasts are the only thing grand. Grand titles, content not so much.
Meh.

CatMat1 ,

Great theme song!

This theme song is a bop. Keep up the great work Harpers team, appreciate you

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