William Pitt the Younger riding on the back of George III while surveying the French squadron, 1803. © Musee de la Ville de Paris, Musee Carnavalet, Paris / Bridgeman Images.


Volume IX, Number 1 | winter 2016


In 480 BC, with the Persian army on the cusp of defeating Greece, Athenian general Themistocles sent a trusted slave to convey a message to Persian king Xerxes; the note professed allegiance to Persia and reported many Greek ships prepared to defect. The Persians, acting hastily on this false intelligence, sailed into the Strait of Salamis, where the Greek fleet was waiting and gained a decisive victory. 

Secrecy lies at the very core of power.

—Elias Canetti, 1960



Your Time Is Going to Come


Trump humiliates underlings with firings; the media reports metaphoric “stays of execution.”


c. 40:

Caligula condemns underlings to fight wild beasts after they fail to acknowledge his genius.


The World in Time

Richard White

Lewis H. Lapham talks with Richard White, author of The Republic for Which It Stands: The United States during Reconstruction and the Gilded Age, 1865–1896. More