Harper's Magazine

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Literary, brainy, and left-leaning, Harper's Magazine is an American institution (the first issue was dated June 1850). Its clean, type-heavy design shouts "serious readers only": many pages are two columns of text, period, and the illustrations are mostly art (often photographic) and artistic adornments. The reading, though, is what matters. It's substantive and often sublime. Along with lengthy, thoughtful, frequently controversial articles on politics and culture, you'll find essays, short fiction, in-depth reporting, and a few book reviews. Bylines routinely represent leading writers and thinkers of the day. Standing features include the much-copied but rarely equaled "Harper's Index," in which statistics tell stories; "Readings," a section of excerpts ranging in length from a few lines to thousands of words; and "Annotation," in which a real-life document is reproduced and "explained," usually to devastating political or cultural effect. Each issue is a full meal for the mind. --Nicholas H. Allison

This magazine is edited to cover current social, political, cultural, scientific and economic issues. It also includes reporting, essays, fiction and memoirs by distinguished writers and promising new voices. It regularly features a statistical index, short cuts from various international texts and close analysis of current pieces of media.

Customer Reviews:

  • bias in advertising
    Don't read this magazine if you are expecting unbiased reporting and truly independent viewpoints.

    For example, Philip Morris Inc. is the top advertiser in Harper's. Not once in the last ten years has there been an in-depth feature critical of the tobacco industry. Anti-smoking ads have even been withheld from the magazine in order to allow for "competeitve separation" from tobacco advertisements.

    Can you, then, resonably expect honest reporting from these guys?...more info
  • great magazine
    I think Lewis Latham's "Notebook," which appears at the beginning of each issue is, all by itself, reason enough to subscribe to Harpers (and at this price, who can resist?). Like nearly everyone else, I like the Index but wish, like nearly everyone else, there was more in the magazine about the items themselves. Best of all, however, is "Readings," the snippets, essays, statements, photographs, poems, letters, dialogues, leaflets, very short stories and other reports about everything under the sun, that follow the index. Of course, each issue features longer essays, personal narratives and short stories that reflect our times, but I like the three sections at the beginning of the magazine the best and they are the reasons why I have been subscribing to this magazine for nearly 25 years....more info
  • Excellent, Simply Excellent
    If you only subscribe to one magazine, ever -- make it Harper's. The Index, Lewis Lapham and the fine group of editors and contributing writers are something I look forward to every month. I will always subscribe to Harper's -- regardless of what direction my political or philosophical views may take....more info
  • Variable
    During the 1980s and 90s Harpers decayed badly from a journal of literature and opinion into a collection of short pieces and meaningless charts- sort of a journal for the literary pretentious with a short attention span. During the late 90s and the early part of this century, an effort was made to recreate the old Harpers.

    Gone now are the annoying fragments and pointless tables, but the quality of the writing is still variable. At its best, Harpers still trails far behind The Atlantic, and at its worst it's pitifully sophmoric. I'll try it again in a few more years....more info

  • The best!
    Whenever I feel that this country has gone beserk, I read Harper's and especially Lewis Lapham's editorials, and realize that sanity still exists. He always seems to hit the mark squarely and it is a shame that we don't hear and see more of him....more info
  • Left Oriented Magazine Entertains
    In June of 1850, a new magazine appeared on the American scene. Created by a New York publishing company called Harper & Brothers, the periodical received the appropriate name "Harper's Magazine." Over the years, the magazine began printing articles and stories from American authors, including William Dean Howells, Mark Twain, Theodore Dreiser, John Muir, Jack London, and many other big literary names immediately recognizable to readers of literature. Harper's also published news about the big stories of the day, such as an article written by Henry Stimson defending the use of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima. Astonishingly enough, the magazine nearly folded in 1980 until several big shots stepped in and rescued the periodical with grant money. Needless to say, Harper's Magazine still chugs along, and I recently subscribed to see what this historic publication looks like today. What I found both elated and bothered me. Harper's Magazine is an entertaining read, if the September 2003 edition is any indication, but at the same time the politics expressed in several of the entries left a slightly sour taste in my mouth.

    The September issue overflows with articles about politics, book reviews, essays, letters from readers, pictures of artwork, and several excerpts from current literary efforts. There is even a doozy of a puzzle towards the end of the magazine for those who want to test their mental powers. It looks as though the editors of the magazine keep advertising to a minimum (a good thing), and there weren't any of those annoying, and sometimes perfumed, inserts you find in most magazines. Nothing kills a magazine quicker in my mind than detecting waves of some cheap cologne wafting off an article about politics or entertainment.

    My favorite odor free articles in this issue of Harper's included a travelogue piece about Waziristan, a rugged region in Pakistan where Taliban exiles mix with hostile Pashtun tribes who possess a decidedly anti-American mentality. The article, written by an American woman, is slightly histrionic in its presentation but it is very informative. Sure enough, a week after I read this article someone on the news mentioned the region in the context of American anti-terrorism efforts, and I was happy to know something about it before hand. Another article worth mentioning is an essay about the public school system written by a retired teacher. The author of this piece derides the crushing boredom of the educational system for both students and teachers, and traces the development of our schools back to Prussia in the 18th and 19th century. While I disagreed with his political leanings, I did find his conclusion that our schools serve as factories to churn out good little sheep that only know how to shop relevant and satisfying. My favorite literary excerpt comes from an Israeli journalist named Oz Shelach, who wrote a book called "Picnic Grounds." The excerpts come in bite sized little fragments that shed some insight into the problems between the Israelis and Palestinians, among other topics. Some of the stuff in this issue of Harper's Magazine is good reading material.

    Regrettably, my politics do not mesh well with the staff at Harper's Magazine. I sighed aloud every time I saw a reference to identity politics, specifically in a literary critique about V.S. Naipaul written by Terry Eagleton. I should be fair and state that I saw a full page advertisement from a group seeking to limit immigration into the United States, and there is a critique of the new Norton Anthology of Modern and Contemporary Poetry that does question the inclusion of several poets who write about nothing except identity themes, so there does seem to be an attempt at balance. Overall, Harper's Magazine is definitely a left oriented publication. I think I can live with it now that I know what to look for in future issues, but for some people this might present a significant problem. One good aspect: while there may be a mess of leftists at the helm of this magazine, at least they still know how to have a laugh. Included in this issue is a description of an Italian board game about women of the night. Based on Monopoly, the Italians call this game "Puttanopoly," and the excerpts taken from the cards in the game are as hilarious as they are inappropriate for this review.

    After finishing this issue of the magazine, I realized that even though I disagree with its politics, I am still looking forward to receiving my next issue. I read this magazine cover to cover in just a couple of days, and for the most part I felt I learned a lot about various topics in the process. You simply cannot resist the price offered here for a year's subscription, so give Harper's Magazine a chance. No matter what your outlook on life, I guarantee you will find something here to tickle your fancy....more info
  • my favorite magazine
    My favorite Harper's pieces over the years include:

    -McManus almost wins the World Series of Poker
    -D.F. Wallace takes a cruise
    -Pollan flirts with growing opium poppies
    -Darcy Frey hangs with a young Stephon Marbury and friends
    -DeLillo's "Pafko at the Wall"
    -the devastating critique of the McMartin child abuse case

    At a buck an issue, it only takes a few brilliant pieces such as these to make this magazine worthwhile....more info

  • Top Notch!
    Harper's is simply a joy to read. I look forward to each new issue. Harper's and Mother Jones are easily the most well written magazines available in the US. The New Yorker and The Economist (from a literary perspective) would probably tie for third. I would also agree with past reviews regarding the political slant (centrist)....more info
  • what's not to like?!?
    Here's a quick breakdown:

    1. Harpers will feed your need for the trivial. The Index is a fascinating collection of facts and figures, and the front-of-book section is probably one of the most quirky, laugh-out-loud funny and stimulating in the business.

    2. Great fiction. Some up-and-comers submit, along with some old pros (a recent story by Joyce Carol Oates was outstanding)

    3. Great features. Some great topics, albeit a lot of environmental stuff, it's still well-rounded and well-informed. Great ones I've read recently include a look at maids, SUVs, education reform and more.

    I can see why people might not like this magazine because it appears to be "uppity." In fact, the only thing that annoys me about this magazine is the letters to the editor, where all of the Ivy-league intellectuals write in and try to prove how smart they are. But I think the appeal is more widespread than that. And you'll be paying less than a dollar an issue -- you'll definitely get your money's worth....more info

  • A Superb, Thoughtful Monthly Magazine!
    In the several years since my retirement, I have come to wait by my trusty old rusted metal mailbox around the third or fourth of every month, waiting for my monthly issue of two magazines, the Atlantic Monthly and Harpers. Each in iuts own way is likely the best amalgams of intellectual articles on a variety of subjects one can find in contemporary America, and each features a stable of highly regarded writers and authors. For good reason; from subjects as arcane as the supposed imminent fall of the Soviet union based on demographic and economic analysis in the mid-1980s to the recent synopsis of former spy Robert Baer regarding the evils of dealing with the highly corrupted Saudi regime, the magazine consistently offers an erudite, informative, and provocative look at aspects of contemporary reality one cannot find elsewhere.

    Needless to say, I really enjoy reading Harpers, especially under the guidance of editor Lewis lapham, and its articles often lead me on Amazon searches for tomes by the talented authors, which in the case of said author Robert Baer, or perpetually sagacious satirist P.J. O'Rourke, or a whole raft of noteable others. All of them lead to some worthwhile reading experiences indeed. It avoids the trendy, so we are spared the suffering through the latest and greatest mass experiences in favor of intellectual roads less traveled, being grassy and rather wont of wear, makes for better and more satisfying traveling, whether trudging through the snow with my Wintertime Dunham Tyroleans or padding down grassy fields in my summertime Birkenstocks. Just keep on trucking! Enjoy!
    ...more info
  • Possibly the greatest literary periodical in existence
    I finally received a subscription to this amazing magazine as a gift, and I've read my first issue cover-to-cover over the span of two days. This month's (February 2003) issue includes, among other things, an essay on the inevitable doom that humans will eventually face when our planet experiences its next major cosmic collision.. Unless, of course, we manage to annihilate ourselves via environmental, militaristic, pathological, or technological means, pre-empting the arbitrary extinction caused by an asteroid or comet.

    Every issue of Harper's contains excellent essays, fiction, political discussion, and of course the Harper's staples, such as the Index. Many of the stories and essays win major literary prizes such as the O'Henry award, and get included in high-profile anthologies such as the *Best American* series. Certainly, for a writer, if you are chosen to appear in Harper's, you are at the pinnacle of your craft.

    Although the New Yorker, Atlantic Monthly, and many other smaller literary magazines consistantly offer excellent content and visually pleasing formats, Harper's seems to lead the pack -- maybe because of it's no-nonsense approach, limited advertising, regionally non-specific content, and diversity of topics. The fact that Harper's is aided by a non-profit organization must contribute to its quality; certainly any independence from advertisers can only improve the open-endedness and creativity that Harper's excels in....more info

  • The day my Harper's comes is...
    ...a day of great joy. This is the most recent of my magazine (re)-discoveries, and one that I am quickly discovering it difficult to be without. It provides wit, thought-provoking material, and the odd bizaare classified advertisement (nothing like an offer for free material on forthcoming alien invasions to brighten my day). The editorial staff is deserving of commendation for assembling such literate, thoughtful, and relevant articles. Though certainly not devoid of bias (and who'd want that, anyway?), it is a remarkable and enjoyable magazine....more info
  • Honest, independent magazine
    This is one of my favorite magazines. If you want to understand what is going on in the country and the world, you should read Harper's every month. Gutsy, fearless reporting. If you are looking for more than corporate- speak reporting and analysis in a magazine, you should subscribe to Harper's....more info
  • Inexpensive, smart, and fun... now with less the guilt!
    There are lots of good things to say about Harper's, but maybe the most compelling is this: it's as much fun to read as The New Yorker (the short pieces in Harper's are fully equal to the cartoons in The New Yorker), but induces barely one-quarter the guilt. A monthly magazine just can't pile up by your bed as quickly as a weekly can.

    Subscribe because it's smart, fun, low-guilt, and inexpensive. At [a small amount] for a year's subscription, you really can't go wrong....more info
  • Outstanding
    While reading Harper's one gets the feel that one is reading something historic. The articles feel timely but they don't try too hard to be "hip" or "cool" and they take their time to tell a story. Each piece feels "right" whether or not one always agrees with the view of the writer. Exceptional writing and fun stalwarts such as Harper's Index and Notes make this magazine incredibly readable and enjoyable....more info
  • Best Magazine I've Ever Subscribed To
    I ordered Harper's from Amazon nearly a year ago and I have come to treasure each issue for its unique blend of essays, art, and literary criticism. My subscription has become a de facto extension of my liberal arts education, as the magazine's pages are graced with politics, history, literature, and the arts.

    Each issue features an essay from editor Lewis Lapham, an essayist of the same caliber as Gore Vidal. Lapham's style and vocubalary are extraordinary, and his writing is often laced with biting satire.

    The magazine is illustrated with contemporary art from galleries across the United States, and includes informative features like the "Harper's Index" and the "Readings" section (garnered from documents in the public domain). Each issue usually includes two serious book reviews, sometimes stretching across several pages of small, dense type.

    A subscription to this indispensible magazine will enlighten and entertain, equipping the reader to understand the contemporary world....more info

  • Best Magazine on the Newsstand
    Under the supreme tutelage of Editor Lewis Lapham, Harper's Magazine consistently churns out intense, dramatic, sincere, frightening, uplifting, and challenging commentary. If others in the media censor their opinions in the face of big brother, Harper's makes up for it with brutally honest assessments of culture, politics, and world affairs.

    At first look, Harper's seems a leftist publication, but if you read it a little more carefully, it's a lot more Mark Twain than Karl Marx. I'd call it centrist, but even that implies straddling the center between two extremes. Like Twain, Harper's is more of a somewhat irascible, yet always caring voice on the outside, not on one end of the spectrum or another, but rather on a different spectrum altogether.

    The attitude is egalitarian, never pompous. The voices are reasonable, if sometimes angry or alarmed. Harper's is definitely not a liberal magazine in the sense of Marxist socialism. Harper's is liberal in the sense of Jeffersonian liberalism. It's opinions seem more focused on improving local cultures and economies and challenging the demagogues and central planners who seek to control the masses, be they Democrat or Republican. Perhaps Harper's is the Jim Jeffords of the magazine world.

    Harper's is an eloquent and impassioned magazine that delivers carefully constructed and inventive views of the world each month. There is an overriding sense of seriousness and genuine compassion found in every issue. In a world where so many media sources are merely parrots for a larger corporate or political agendas, Harper's stands out as an autonomous voice of indignant opposition to censorship and blind nationalism. If you care about the world we all inhabit and genuinely want to discover how we might all get to a better place, give Harper's a read. It may not provide the answers, but it certainly raises all the right questions....more info

  • it is late.!
    I order this magazine,in B.C
    long time ago...
    why...?advice ,go to a book store and read , have some coffe with.
    hasan...more info
  • Something to get you thinking
    Finally, I've found a magazine that keeps my mind active long after I've set it down. Each month I discover a deeper understanding into today's issues and look at things with a new perspective thanks to the thoughtful words in Harper's. I recommend this magazine to anyone looking to learn more about our country and the vast world around us....more info
  • For culturally esoteric people only
    I was bored by this magazine. The artistic analysis and views were useless to me. I have a feeling a small group of people into arts and culture would love it. Not for a casual reader hoping to be entertained....more info
  • America's last real Magazine
    I'm a conservative (but lately more of a libertarian) but Harper's is my favorite magazine. It has honest political commentary, hard to find these days, that I don't always agree with but concede that the arguments are often compelling. The short stories are usually great, and the book reviews better than most. A favorite feature is "Findings" a short list of recent and bizarre scientific findings. I read it aloud to my family (and yes they enjoy it and look forward to each issue, too). Sometimes the editorials are a bit cynical but they are almost as likely to trash the Democrats as the Republicans (a healthy sign since I feel both parties have been co-opted by special interests).

    You will also get news here without commentary, such as transcripts from Guantanamo, bizarre and revealing emails, and recently discovered correspondence from unlikely political leaders. All without commentary so you avoid the usual media attempt at controlling your opinion.

    Sure, I might occasionally get mad at or ignore some authors, but I've found life isn't as fun without this magazine....more info
  • My favorite magazine.
    The best of the intellectual and, why not, the absurd. Entertaining, thought-provoking. Worth every dime....more info
  • Quality has gone down dramatically
    I used to be a subscriber and an avid reader. Recently, perhaps in the last two years or so, the quality of the writing has become rather poor. The selection of articles is uninteresting, and sometimes half the articles themselves are so poorly written as to be unreadable. The fiction is simply mediocre, and the entire magazine seems to be infected with editor Lewis Lapham's shrill and ever-growing Notebook (does the man ever have anything interesting or original to say?). In short, Harper's is not the magazine it once was. I would suggest the Atlantic Monthly if you want a magazine that is interesting, informative, and well-written, cover to cover....more info
  • My subscription started with two back issues
    I'm "[l]iterary, brainy, and left-leaning," and I'm sure I'll really enjoy my issues once _Harper's_ stops sending me the old issues from its warehouse. But it frustrates me no end to find yet another outdated issue in my mailbox and to have Harper's ignore my requests to update my subscription.

    I subscribed on November 22. My first issue arrived, as Amazon told me it would, a few weeks later. That first issue was the November 2005 issue--the one I'd bought at my local bookstore when it came out two months earlier. There were advertisements in that issue for Christmas television programs, and the deadline for submitting the puzzle was early December. So it was clearly an outdated issue. And I went to the subscriber services page on the magazine's website to get the dates of my subscription updated to reflect my unwillingness to accept old issues as part of my subscription. (The date of expiration on my mailing label, by the way, is November 2006--so this is no simple mail room error.)

    No response from _Harper's_.

    Three days ago, I found the February 2006 issue waiting for me. Great. The day after that, the January 2006 issue arrived.

    Look, I like _Harper's_. I really do. But I don't like receiving leftovers, and I don't like being ignored when I try to get treated like I have half a brain. ...more info
  • spotty but interesting
    Harper's seems to go back and forth between featuring articles with fairly decent critical thought, and shock-value wackiness (their famous Index is a great example). I subscribed to this for two years, let it lapse, and think about resubscribing occasionally. Works as a fun suppliment to other magazines (Atlantic, New Yorker)....more info
  • Kitty Litter Pan Liner...
    ... and that's only if you hate the cat. The tired, saggy voice of tired, saggy northeastern liberalism that has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO SAY to anyone who's not part of tired, saggy, New York literary-lit-crit circles (or people with pretensions or desire of belonging thereto). Whatever Harper's once was, it isn't any more -- it's just sad, sorry garbage, The New Yorker without the cartoons. Read The New Criterion instead....more info
  • Simply the best
    Harper's Magazine is quite simply the single most comprehensive and highest quality literary rag to date. Displaying an unabashed moderate to left wing view, it is a publication for the people. Unafraid to poignantly uncover some of the world's most touchy subjects, this magazine also proudly displays some of the most talented writers and essayists in the world. With former contributors including V.S. Naipul, Joyce Carol Oates, Don Dilillo, et al., you would be hard pressed to find a literary rival. Fun, user friendly, challenging, and eye opening, Harper's is just the best thing out there. Holding a firm edge over such others as Atlantic Monthly, The New Yorker, Mother Jones, and The Economist, Harper's delivers information and creativity with zeal unmatched in today's magazine scene....more info
  • read harpers to open your mind
    read harpers to sidestep the pointless left/right debate
    read harpers and learn how to think multi-dimensional
    (i guess harpers looks left-leaning to those who think fox news
    is balanced and fair)
    ive been a reader for decades...i didnt know it was liberal
    media...more info
  • The 'Literate Liberal' Magazine
    Harper's Magazine is in a sense a unique medium. It is a place where literate authors share their viewpoints through essays, memoirs and short stories. It's extraordinary in that although its periodicals may contradict each other, they are all well-written. The magazine deals primarily with politics and its content is typically liberal. If you're up for the challenge, you'll find it educational and enjoyable to read!...more info
  • A Very Important Magazine
    Along with the Atlantic Monthly, this is probably one of the best mass-circulated literary/cultural periodical in print today. With the Bush administration pursuing an increasingly conservative agenda, Harper's is really at its best since its editors have meaningful opposition to critique and criticize. Plus, this magazine gets away from the "you NEED to know this" mentality--the writing they publish is always excellent, but never limited to breaking news or urgent matters. Well-balanced and enjoyable....more info
  • really good but the cynicism is hard to take
    OK, this is major league journalism and if you want a leftist progressive perspective it's about as good as it gets. But what turns me off--even though I read it avidly--is the level of cynicism that typically pervades its pages. Sometimes they rise out of it, as when they did an article on how capitalism might be saved and they included the brilliant thoughts of a number of well-spoken visionaries, but in general the cynicism drags it down a notch IMHO even though the writing is so damn good....more info
  • Probably the best available. Powerfully recommended.
    I've been subscribing to Harper's for years. In fact, I started after reading editor Lewis Lapham's "Money and Class in America: Notes and Observations on our Civil Religion" and at least one other book, a collection of his essays.

    First, Lapham's "column" at the beginning of each issue I cannot recommend enough. In the case of the recent Iraq war, for example, Mr. Lapham had the guts to stand up against it. And he did so in an eloquent and erudite way, less volatile than any stand I was able to publicly make.

    The rest of the content is the best I've ever read in an American periodical. For those who refer to Harper's as "leftist," I'm forced to disagree. There have been articles that are not remotely "leftist," with some of which I happen to agree. But most would consider most of the material "liberal."

    (While I'm not much of a short story reader, those who read them in this magazine say they're the best.)

    Thanks so much, Mr. Lapham, for your erudite commentaries on Iraq, on George W., on 9/11, and on countless other subjects. I look forward to each issue....more info


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