Francine du Plessix Gray received the National Book Critics Circle Award in 2006 for her memoir Them: A Memoir of Parents.

‘The Paralysis of Stuttering’

King George VI of England during one of his first broadcasts, 1937
Until very recent times, speech impediments were thought to be of a physiological nature. Aristotle, who is said to have stuttered himself, believed that stutterers’ tongues were abnormally thick or hard, and thus “too sluggish to keep pace with the imagination.” The second-century Greek physician Galen judged that stammerers’ tongues were too cold and wet. So did Francis Bacon, who suggested a draught of hot wine to thaw “the Refrigeration of the tongue, whereby it is less apt to move.”

Splendor and Miseries

“I love prostitution in and for itself…” Gustave Flaubert wrote in 1853 to his mistress, Louise Colet. In the very notion of prostitution there is such a complex convergence of lust and bitterness, such a frenzy of muscle and sound of gold, such a void in human relations, that the …

The Progress of Klaus Barbie

For well over two years former SS Hauptsturmführer Klaus Barbie, indicted for crimes against humanity committed during World War II, has been confined in Lyons’ St. Joseph Prison, close to the former Gestapo headquarters where he conducted his tortures. Every few months a brief story in the French press reports …

No Fool

In 1952, six years after her conversion to the Roman Catholic Church, Clare Boothe Luce edited a remarkable anthology called Saints for Now, published by Sheed and Ward. The company of authors she persuaded to contribute to this volume reminds one of the Luces’ famous dinner parties, at which “Winnie” …

The Heavenly Deception

He’d just graduated from Yale with straight A’s in philosophy but his girl-friend left him for an Iraqi Marxist. His career at college was academically brilliant and emotionally arid. He was “searching desperately for community.” Walking through the streets of Berkeley in the summer of 1975, Chris Edwards was approached …

Blissing Out in Houston

“What’ll we do with ourselves this afternoon,” Daisy cried, “and the day after that, and the next thirty years?” —F. Scott Fitzgerald The Great Gatsby October 21, 1973: Tonight I have an appointment with Rennie Davis to discuss his newborn self and the salvation of all mankind. Some months …

On Safari

Ten years after Kenya’s independence, the main bar of Nairobi’s venerable Norfolk Hotel is still called the Delamere Room, after Kenya’s legendary settler, and is decorated with the mounted heads of His Lordship’s trophies. An eager hunter thrice mauled by lions, Lord Delamere used to ride through the streets of …

Old Times

When Richard Nixon walked onto the inaugural stand—it was the first time I had seen him in the flesh and I was only twenty yards away from him, in the second row of the press section—I began to weep. I don’t know precisely why. Anger for the lives he had …

The Politics of Salvation: II

In Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, last February and March, Father Philip Berrigan, Sister Elizabeth McAlister, and five other antiwar activists stood trial on charges of conspiring to kidnap Henry Kissinger, blow up heating ducts in Washington, DC, and vandalize Selective Service boards. The government’s case against this predominantly Catholic group relied almost …

Harrisburg: The Politics of Salvation

In 1849 a maverick priest in the town of Béziers, France, founded an order of nuns which he called “Les Religieuses du Sacré Coeur de Marie,” whose aim would be to educate young girls to work among the poor. Father Jean Pierre Gailhac was an eccentric and a social activist.

Address to the Democratic Town Committee of Newtown, Conn.

Newtown Town Hall March 18, 1971 Newtown, Connecticut, where this talk was given, borders on Danbury, where the Berrigans are in Federal Prison. Brothers and sisters. Fellow Democrats. Fellow Americans. Last summer, when the FBI finally captured Father Daniel Berrigan after he had successfully avoided them for four …

The Panthers at Yale

When Kingman Brewster, Jr., boarded a plane on Monday, May 11, to lead a large delegation of students, faculty, and members of the Yale Corporation to lobby in Congress against the expanded war in Southeast Asia, one sensed that a new alignment of forces was taking place in American political …

The Ultra-Resistance

On a warm spring day in 1966, a nineteen-year-old Minnesotan by the name of Barry Bondhus broke into his local draft board and dumped two large bucketfuls of human feces into a filing cabinet, mutilating several hundred I-A draft records in protest against the Vietnam war. The offender and his …