Issue No. 12 | Father Figures

Boys to Men

Freud be damned: there is perhaps no family role more fraught than that of a father. Men are expected to play the role of protector, provider, politician, peacemaker, or even punisher. But what about those men who never had the luxury of being properly fathered—or those for whom their own experience of fatherhood has been destructive? This month we focus on dads, literal and figurative, and the legacies they leave behind. Anchored by the powerful feature documentary The Work, our June issue includes a story about a daughter’s inheritance from her fisherman father, musings from a stay-at-home dad, and a long-form feature about Warrior Week, a grueling self-help retreat for men.


Ta-Nehisi Coates: Dreams of a Father

The best-selling author reflects on his youth and how parenthood made him the man—and the writer—that he is today.

America’s Floundering Fathers

They wanted to start a revolution, not win Parent of the Year.

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The Work

During an intensive therapy session at a California prison, convicts and civilians come face-to-face with the men they were—and the men they want to become.

Outside Voices: Life After The Work

For these ex-convicts, participating in the Inside Circle program made life beyond prison look like something worth living for.

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Like Father, Like Sons: The Family Behind The Work

How creating a documentary about their father’s prison program became a journey for the McLeary brothers.

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Daddy Dearest

Mao’s face is still everywhere in modern China. But now Xi Jinping is ready for his close-up.

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My Old Man and the Sea

A third-generation trap fisher on how her dad got her hooked on the family business.

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The Warrior Pose

Side by side with the recruits of Warrior Week, who are prepared to do whatever it takes to become better men.

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The Ballad of Rich & EJ

A photographer documents a father and son for nearly 12 years following the loss of the boy’s mother.

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Marchez Avec Vos Pères

What happens when spiritual leaders take national leaders to task.

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Soon We’re Both Screaming

A stay-at-home dad finds brief solace in the quietude of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.

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A man who grew up without a father finds fulfillment in mentoring another.

Making a ‘Monologue’: A Conversation with Lyndon J. Barrois

A conversation with the animator who reimagined Ta-Nehisi Coates’s interview with Topic.

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Off Topic

Who’s Your Daddy?

How televised paternity tests became a racialized American spectacle.

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About the Cover: Father Figures

Marc Aspinall discusses his midcentury-style cover art for Topic’s June issue.

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