Contributors to Lapham's Quarterly

Not to know what happened before one was born is always to be a child.


Lapham’s Quarterly embodies the belief that history is the root of all education, scientific and literary as well as political and economic. Each issue addresses a topic of current interest and concern—war, religion, money, medicine, nature, crime—by bringing up to the microphone of the present the advice and counsel of the past.


The texts are drawn from authors on the order of Aristotle, William Shakespeare, Leo Tolstoy, Mark Twain, Thucydides, Virginia Woolf, Charles Dickens, Edith Wharton, Edward Gibbon, Mahatma Gandhi, Confucius, Honoré de Balzac, Jane Austen, Jorge Luis Borges, Matsuo Bashō, Henry David Thoreau, and Joan Didion. Abridged rather than paraphrased, none of the text in the Quarterly runs to a length longer than six pages, others no more than six paragraphs. Together with passages from the world’s great literature, each issue offers full-color reproductions of paintings and sculpture by the world’s great artists. The connecting of the then with the now is further augmented with the testimony found in the letters, speeches, diaries, and photographs, in five-act plays and three-part songs.


Contact Us
Lapham’s Quarterly does not accept unsolicited original work, but we invite readers to send along interesting, topical, unusual, or enlightening historical documents and articles for use in the Quarterly or online. Letters to the editor may be sent to editorial @ or by mail to:


Lapham’s Quarterly
27 Union Square West, Suite 302
New York, NY 10003


(877) 890-3001. If outside the U.S., please call (903) 636-1126, or email

Lewis H. Lapham

Formerly the Editor of Harper’s Magazine, he is the author of numerous books, including Money and Class in America, Theater of War, Gag Rule, Pretensions to Empire, and, most recently, Age of Folly. The New York Times has likened him to H.L. Mencken; Vanity Fair has suggested a strong resemblance to Mark Twain; and Tom Wolfe has compared him to Montaigne. A native of San Francisco, Mr. Lapham was educated at Yale and Cambridge.


Executive Director and Publisher
Paul W. Morris


Senior Editors
Leopold Froehlich
Jaime Fuller


Managing Editor
Will Augerot


Art Editor
Timothy Don


Design and Production Director
Jason David Brown


Associate Editor
Caroline Wazer


Assistant Editors
Madeline Grimm
Apoorva Tadepalli


Development Director
Susan C. Kenny


Marketing and Membership Director
Shelley Shames


Events and Programming Manager
Jean Yoon


Digital Director
Justin Alvarez


Program Director, Education
Soraya Field Fiorio


Program Manager, Incarcerated Readers
Adam Iscoe


Editorial Board
Emily Allen-Hornblower, Noga Arikha, Jack Beatty, Warren Breckman, D. Graham Burnett, David Cannadine, Christopher Carroll, Richard Cohen, Linda Colley, John Crowley, Annie Dillard, Michael Dirda, Aidan Flax-Clark, Anthony Gottlieb, Anthony Grafton, Hendrik Hertzberg, William Hogeland, Donovan Hohn, Jim Holt, Michael Hudson, Alyssa Loh, Uzoamaka Maduka, John Major, Greil Marcus, Ben Metcalf, Lance Morrow, Susan Brind Morrow, James Miller, Jac Mullen, Lynn Stuart Parramore, Francine Prose, Ron Rosenbaum, Damion Searls, Adam Shatz, Gregory Shaya, Peter T. Struck, Jennifer Szalai, Amor Towles, Curtis White, Sean Wilentz, Brenda Wineapple In Memoriam Barbara Ehrenreich, Peter Foges, Peter Mayer, Karl Meyer, Theodore Rabb


Web Design


The American Agora Foundation
Robert Whitcomb, Acting Chairman and Treasurer

Lewis H. Lapham, President
David R. Stack, Secretary
Nicholas Acquavella, Shelley Ambrose, Melissa Ballate, Larry Berger, Andrew M. Davenport, Ben Jealous, Lisa Lloyd, George Lund, Bill Ryan, Thomas M. Siebel In Memoriam Arthur Yorke Allen

Best American Science and Nature Writing 2019
A Compassionate Substance,” by Philip Ball, from Water.
The Fading Stars: A Constellation,” by Holly Haworth, from Night.


Best American Essays 2018
Land of Darkness,” by Suki Kim, from Fear.
In Search of Fear,” by Philippe Petit, from Fear.


Best American Travel Writing 2016
The Foreign Spell,” by Pico Iyer, from Foreigners.


Best American Essays 2015
Strange Days,” by Sven Birkerts, from Time.


Best Food Writing 2014
Last Meals,” by Brent Cunningham, from Death.


Best American Essays 2012
Vanishing Act,” by Paul Collins, from Celebrity.


Best Food Writing 2012
Pastoral Romance,” by Brent Cunningham, from Food.


National Magazine Award Finalist 2011
Honoring our 2010 issues Religion, Arts & Letters, and The City.


Best American Travel Writing 2010
Take Nothing, Leave Nothing,” by Simon Winchester, from Travel.


Best American Essays 2009
And Such Small Deer,” by Garret Keizer, from Book of Nature.


Best New Publication
Utne Independent Press Awards, 2009


Best New Magazine Launch
Library Journal Award, 2008


“If we sat around lamenting about all the book or magazine ideas we wished we’d thought of, this one would be tops. We should pick huge topics; topics that intimidate us with all their possibilities—we would’ve said had we thought of this—and then we’ll compile all the best writing on these topics going back to ancient times. Then we’ll add some amazing contemporary writers and make it all one huge narrative spanning the breadth of human existence. And we’ll do this every three months.”—McSweeney’s Internet Tendency


“Lapham’s Quarterly is a godsend, a genuine treasure for any and all who care about history and ideas and the love of learning. It is superbly edited, beautifully designed and illustrated, and has a good tactile presence exactly in the spirit of its purpose. I don’t know when I’ve been so pleased by something that arrived in the mail unexpectedly. Bravo!”—David McCullough


“Brilliant and much needed.”—Dave Eggers


“No matter how many magazines and journals to which you may subscribe, Lapham’s Quarterly is a necessity. From its very first issue, it has become the Thinking Person’s Guide to where we’ve come from, where we are, and where we may be going. Lewis Lapham’s name on the cover is enough to tell you, you’re in for an intellectual treat.”—Morley Safer


“Lavishly detailed, handsomely produced, and conceptually brilliant...It recontextualizes history and makes it come alive to the sound of battle.”—James Wolcott, Vanity Fair


“Enthralling reading...A magazine that demands focus and engages intellect in order to elicit persuasive emotions.”—Francesca Mari, The New Republic


“Lapham’s Quarterly is careful to avoid narratives bogged down in scholar-speak, instead favoring histories rich in both detail and prose. This commitment to readability makes the journal’s content a unique, pleasant marriage of great storytelling and important historical accounts.”—Morgan Winters, Utne Reader


“The tag line for the recently launched Lapham’s Quarterly is ‘the journal that enlists the counsel of the dead.’ Don't worry: this isn't a horror film. Instead, this thick periodical, helmed by—and named for—Lewis Lapham, culls writings from the history books, and age-old source material. In the new issue, ‘States of War,’ the former editor of Harper’s gets the help of Homer and Woodrow Wilson, who lend perspective to our own modern conflicts.”—The Christian Science Monitor


“It is not the next big thing; it is the real thing, a must-read.”—Ken Alexander, The Walrus (Canada)


“Expertly edited and easy to read.”—The Age (Australia)


“Expertly presented, with a soft matte finish and subdued colors, the magazine has a look and feel that reflect the quality of the fine writing. Essential for academic libraries; highly recommended for public libraries.”—Steve Black, Library Journal


“What one is reminded of in combing the pages, of course, is the degree to which our problems were the problems of our forefathers, too. That’s a lively lesson to keep in mind in our self-absorbed age.”—Baton Rouge Advocate

In partnership with Curio, Lapham’s Quarterly presents audio versions of the following selections from the magazine and the website.


Caroline Alexander, “The Dread Gorgon,” from Fear.


Noga Arikha, “Thoughts Made Visible,” from States of Mind.


Jane Austen, “All in the Family,” from Home.


Francis Bacon, “Hostage Situation,” from Family.


Gaiutra Bahadur, “A Good Story, if I Can Remember It,” from Roundtable.


P.T. Barnum, “The Great American Humbug,” from Swindle & Fraud.


Kim Beil, “New Look, Same Great Look,” from Roundtable.



Erica Benner, “The Daimons’ Wisdom,” from Rule of Law.


Andrew Blum, “Fusion & Magic,” from Technology.


Deborah Blum, “Death in the Pot,” from Food.


Benjamin Breen, “Our Strange Addiction,” from Roundtable.


Frank Bures, “Origin Unknown,” from Roundtable.


Christopher Carroll, “Secret Music,” from Music.


Margaret Cavendish, “Seeing Is Believing,” from Discovery.


G.K. Chesterton, “No Place Like Home,” from Home.


Richard Cohen, “The World’s Greatest Outlaw,” from Rule of Law.


Paul Collins, “Trust Issues,” from The Future.


Paul Collins, “Vanishing Act,” from Celebrity.


Alex Cuadros, “Songs from Sinjar,” from Music.


Brent Cunningham, “Last Meals,” from Death.


Natalie Daher, “How to Rescue Women from the Historical Dustbin,” from Roundtable.


Princess Der Ling, “Extreme Makeover,” from Home.


Stephanie DeGooyer, “The Right to Leave,” from Migration.


Colin Dickey, “A Fire in the Belly,” from Roundtable.


Frederick Douglass, “Answering to the Charge of Infidelity,” from Foreigners.


Kevan A. Feshami, “Fear of White Genocide,” from Roundtable.


Peter Foges, “My Spy,” from Roundtable.


Emma Garman, “In the Clouds,” from Roundtable.


Elena Goukassian, “Time Lords,” from Roundtable.


David Graeber and David Wengrow, “Hiding in Plain Sight,” from Democracy.


John Gray, “The Anomaly of Barbarism,” from Disaster.


Alex Green, “ ‘Enemies’ with Disabilities,” from Roundtable.


Alex Green, “Sight Unseen,” from Roundtable.


Jay Griffiths, “The Loneliest of Species,” from Happiness.


Zack Harold, “Paradise Lost,” from Roundtable.


Elizabeth Harper, “Reach Out and Touch Faith,” from Roundtable.


Kyle Harper, “In the Shadow of Caesar,” from Climate.


Bridey Heing, “Operation Ajax,” from Roundtable.


Rudolph Herzog, “Rise of the Drones,” from Spies.


Jack Hitt, “Our Orgiastic Future,” from Animals.


Jim Holt, “The Grand Illusion,” from Time.


Annie Howard, “Please, My Digital Archive. It’s Very Sick,” from Roundtable.


Ferris Jabr, “The Person in the Ape,” from States of Mind.


Emma Jacobs, “Edison vs. Scott,” from Roundtable.


Mike Jay, “The Virus and the Martians,” from Epidemic.


James Joyce, “Report Card,” from Youth.


Hugh Kennedy, “Why Have a Caliph?” from Roundtable.


Laleh Khalili, “A World Built on Sand and Oil,” from Trade.


Lewis H. Lapham, “Advertisements for Reality,” from Roundtable.


Sarah Laskow, “The Haunting of a Heights House,” from Roundtable.


Sarah Laskow, “The Nun’s Story,” from Roundtable.


Daniel M. Lavery, “Feminine Ending/Masculine Ending,” from Roundtable.


Bess Lovejoy, “Body Snatchers of Old New York,” from Roundtable.


Bess Lovejoy, “A Brief History of Medical Cannibalism,” from Roundtable.


Tyler Malone, “City as Character,” from Roundtable.


Clancy Martin, “We Buy Broken Gold,” from Swindle & Fraud.


Nina Martryis, “Lord Byron’s Darkest Summer,” from Roundtable.


Christy Mathewson, “Inside Baseball,” from Roundtable.


Pablo Maurette, “The Children of Anaxagoras,” from Roundtable.


Adrienne Mayor, “Prometheus’ Toolbox,” from Technology.


Jess McHugh, “Old Paris Is No More,” from Roundtable.


Laurent Merceron, “The Botanical Origins of a Medieval Madness,” from Roundtable.


Laurent Merceron, “Gold and Silver Coined from Human Blood,” from Roundtable.


Melissa Mesku, “Restoring the Ship of Theseus,” from Roundtable.


Anne Michaels, “Mortal Soul, Moral Soul,” from Memory.


Thomas More, “A Galaxy Far, Far Away,” from About Money.


Ralph Nader, “Land of the Lawless,” from Rule of Law.


Ed Park, “Pale Ink,” from Memory.


Roger Pearson, “Voltaire’s Luck,” from Luck.


Philippe Petit, “In Search of Fear,” from Fear.


Jayne Anne Phillips, “Love’s Labor Lost,” from Rivalry & Feud.


Andrea Pitzer, “Enemy Aliens,” from Foreigners.


Amanda Power, “Under Watchful Eyes,” from Spies.


Francine Prose, “The Original Sin,” from Religion.


Shelley Puhak, “Killer Queens,” from Roundtable.


Olivia Rutigliano, “The Lady Is a Detective,” from Roundtable.


Ted Scheinman, “Jane Austen’s Trivial Pursuits,” from Roundtable.


Damion Searls, “The Difficult Task of the Future,” from States of Mind.


Maggie Shipstead, “Around Alone,” from The Sea.


Aaron Lake Smith, “The Genius and the Laborer,” from Roundtable.


Lily Houston Smith, “Work the Lazy Way,” from Roundtable.



Moses Smith, “A Grand and Awful Scene,” from The Sea.


Levi Stahl, “A Moral Tale,” from Roundtable.


Peter T. Struck, “Greatest of All Time,” from Roundtable.


Maria Theresa, “Advice to the Once and Future Queen,” from Family.


Henry David Thoreau, “Survival of the Fittest,” from Book of Nature.


Mark Twain, “Campaign Promises,” from Politics.


Ross Ufberg, “The Jones Project,” from Roundtable.


Paul Veyne, “The Oasis of Palmyra,” from Home.


Queen Victoria, “Poor Stupid Me,” from Youth.


Caroline Wazer, “It’s Time for Some Game Theory,” from Roundtable.


H.G. Wells, “A Peculiar Sensation,” from Time.


Edith Wharton, “The Bread of Angels,” from Eros.


Simon Winchester, “Greeks Bearing Gifts,” from Technology.

Lapham’s Quarterly does not accept unsolicited original work, but we invite readers to send along interesting, topical, unusual, or enlightening historical documents and articles for use in the Quarterly or online.


Letters to the editor may be sent to editorial @ or by mail to:


Lapham’s Quarterly
27 Union Square West, Suite 302
New York, NY 10003


If you have any questions about a subscription or are experiencing subscription difficulties, please call (877) 890-3001. If outside the U.S., please call (903) 636-1126 or email