On a cold Friday night in New York City, Stephen K. Bannon is entertaining an eclectic group of friends and media types in his hotel suite. In today’s fraught political climate, a more public setting is practically out of the question. Over room service crudité and drinks, he holds court casually, affably. He smiles and laughs, speaking to everyone in the room without a trace of ego or artifice. The most unexpected thing about “Darth Vader”? He’s an easygoing, natural host.

In a side room, he and I spoke about a wide range of subjects, and the Bannon most folks are familiar with emerged: tenacious, certain, erudite, and displaying a deep and firm grasp of history and human nature. Over nearly an hour, we moved from the wide end of the funnel–the history of globalism–to the current moment of the impeachment proceedings.