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Halle Berry he ain’t, but John Ashcroft, the United States attorney general, is our ideal cover boy for this issue of Tin House. Jim Shepard, in an artful blend of fact and fiction, imagines Ashcroft’s inner life; Australian poet Les Murray conjures haunting images in “At the Widening of War”; novelist Jeffrey Eugenides contributes a dark and humorous essay from Berlin about discovering a Nazi bunker under his office; in Montana, Charles D’Ambrosio talks about the transcendence and hell of self-imposed exile; and from Russia comes Sergey Gandlevsky’ poem, “To My Mother,” in which he writes, “Everything that happened to us will happen again.” These pieces make the case that our best writers illuminate the human condition in ways that can never be captured by the blaze of the CNN lights. Also in this issue is Tin House favorite Jonathan Lethem, with a new story, “The Vision,” as well as an excerpt from Scott Spencer’s highly anticipated novel, A Ship Made of Paper, and an interview with the author of the number-one bestselling novel Girl with a Pearl Earring, Tracy Chevalier. So, please, settle in to someplace safe and take it all in. Peace.