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The Forged Letter that Began a Mormon Succession Crisis

On July 9, 1844, a letter from a dead man arrived at the post office in Burlington, Wisconsin, forty miles southwest of Milwaukee. Addressed to “Mr. James J. Strang,” it had been postmarked three weeks earlier in the Mormon city of Nauvoo, Illinois. The dead man was Joseph Smith, founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He had written...

Can the German Path to Truth and Reconciliation Work in America?

From my apartment in Gesundbrunnen, to the north of Berlin’s city centre, it is about a six-kilometer walk to the Brandenburg Gate. The route I take leads me through housing estates built in the gaps where World War II rubble was cleared, and past 19th-century tenement blocks that are now some of the most expensive real estate in the city. It takes...

On the School-to-Prison Pipeline, and Being Unable to Protect Those You Love

Poof. He’s gone. You can live on a hill. You can live on the good side of town. You can live among white people. You can even have white relatives. You can leave. You can return. You can have opportunity. You can be loved. But you will still be vulnerable. My brother is in prison, along with too many other black men. The street I didn’t want to see...

On Thomas Jefferson and the Little-Known Presence of Enslaved Muslims in the US

On October 3rd, 1807, Thomas Jefferson’s evening at the President’s House was interrupted by the arrival of a cryptic note. Scribbled by a traveler from the “Territory of Louisiana,” this note was a single-page petition, pleading with the president for just one thing: “an interview.” I have “a matter of momentous importance to communicate,” the author...

A Society That Abandons Individual Health Will Never Be Whole

In the course of three years spent researching my book Retreat: How the Counterculture Invented Wellness I explored the tapestry that the counterculture spun trying to solve the riddle of human suffering as it pertained to health. I spoke to macrobiotics foodies, anti-psychiatrists, LSD psychotherapists, radical feminists, Jungians, meditators, gurus,...

What Our First Close Look at Mars Actually Revealed

Not long after I graduated from college, I convinced my  father to come with me on a trip into thin desert air. He got on an airplane with me, something he’d only done a few times in his life, and we flew from Kentucky to Atlanta and then on to Tucson. We rented a car and drove deep into Arizona’s Old West country, to a hill over a kilo-meter above...

On Hope, Resilience, and Denial in the Great State of California

When Elizabeth and I weren’t shuttling baskets of fries and feeding tourists a fake age, fake name, fake history, we fled Swall Meadows and drove to Bishop in her Oldsmobile and sat in pink vinyl booths in an ice cream parlor until it shut down. In Kmart I pushed her around in a shopping cart filled with pillows while she brandished a fishing net at...

Has Free Speech Become an Even More Partisan Issue Under the Trump Administration?

When it comes to free speech, hypocrisy abounds. Even its most ardent defenders must admit some propensity to stand up more eagerly for views they believe in than for those they dispute. You’re more likely to experience visceral outrage witnessing police arrest a fellow protester than if they target someone for demonstrating against you. In 2018, political...

Artifact

She did not want to disturb the rats. Breathing “Lullaby and Good Night,” trying to keep the wire cage in her arms steady, she walked down the dimly lit hall. The lab equipment was turned off for the weekend and there was no sound except for the soft, slapping noise of her slippers and her low song. Occasionally a rat lifted its head and sniffed the...

A former Mueller prosecutor’s upcoming book will cover “mistakes” the team made.

Andrew Weissmann, who served as a prosecutor for Robert Mueller during an investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, is releasing a book this fall—and says it will include details on the investigation’s “mistakes.” Random House will publish Where Law Ends: Inside the Mueller Investigation on Sept. 29. Weissmann said in a statement...

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