On Monday, Harper's editor emeritus and national correspondent, Lewis Lapham, launched his new venture, Lapham's Quarterly, in NYC. It intends to set"the story of the past in the frame of the present."
Four times a year the editors seize upon the most urgent question then current in the headlines - foreign war, financial panic, separation of church and state - and find answers to that question from authors whose writings have passed the test of time.
Lapham is betting that there is a market for a quarterly, themed journal that publishes mostly fiction and nonfiction primary sources. Its initial, Winter 2008, issue on States of War features, among many other things: Luigi Guicciardini in Rome in 1527, Leo Tolstoy on Moscow in 1812, Mark Twain from New York in 1905, Tsar Nicholas II in St. Petersburg and Kaiser Wilhelm II in Berlin in 1914, General George Patton in East Anglia in 1944, Curzio Malaparte in the Ukraine in 1944, William Laurence at Nagasaki in 1945, and the CIA on Guatemala in 1954. The issue concludes with selected interpretive essays. Update: Timothy Noah jumps the snark in:"Lewis Lapham Mad Libs," Slate, 13 November.
In addition to its print run, Lapham's Quarterly's online presence includes two blogs: Déjà vu and Paper Trails. So, who does Lapham invite to the Quarterly's gala launch in NYC? The Cliopatricians? No. He invites Glenn Reynolds! Lapham must have meant to invite Jonathan Reynolds and got the brothers confused. It reminds me of the old -- surely false -- rumor that Columbia University trustees meant to hire Dwight Eisenhower's brother, Milton, as its new president in 1948. Milton Eisenhower was then President at Kansas State and would later serve as President at Penn State and Johns Hopkins. But there was confusion between the trustees' decision and the public relations office, which had never heard of Milton Eisenhower. So, when the pr office released its story, it was too late and Dwight Eisenhower became Columbia's none-too-obvious choice for its new president.
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