In the June Atlantic, I report on witchcraft litigation in the Central African Republic.
Originally appeared in The Barnes and Noble Review.
For Americans of my generation—the wrong side of thirty, but too young to remember the golden age of student protest—the tales of youth offered by Christopher Hitchens in his new memoir may provoke somewhat more envy than we care to admit. A Trotskyite protester in Hitchens’s salad days could enjoy the thrilling illusion that letter-writing campaigns and streetside invective might one day succeed in buckling the world order and building an epoch of peace on its ruins. Thirty years after Hitchens, if any of my college classmates were spending their off-hours atop milk-crates yelling into bullhorns, I am sure they were ignored. During the Hitchens era, these protests mattered. Now such protests as are held have the character of an elaborate costume party, with no more revolutionary commitment in evidence than at a midnight showing of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Even if one’s slogans would have been different, it is hard to beat away the feeling of having been born late.