The New Yorker Back Catalogue: Landmarks You Shouldn’t Miss
Hi all! The New Yorker, one of the last bastions of excellent longform journalism, has made the last seven years of its back catalogue available free online for the duration of the summer. I highly encourage you to browse through it for yourselves, but seven years’ of journalism is a lot to get through, so I’ve decided to list some of my favourite New Yorker articles here as a starting point. I found it hard to narrow them down, so articles with a double asterisk before them are ones that are my absolute must-reads.
- Trial By Fire, by David Grann: Excellent analysis of a homicide investigation, its outcome, and the American justice system. (Sept. ‘09)
- **The Apostate, by Lawrence Wright: Starting with Paul Haggis’ explosive defection from Scientology in 2009, this article provides an in-depth analysis of Scientology’s origins, leaders, and operation tactics. Meticulously researched, it represents a great introduction to the swathes of coverage the controversial organisation has received. After reading this, I would suggest watching the BBC documentary Wright mentions in the article; it really is amusing how many times Tommy Davis ‘just happens’ to be in the same place as the investigative reporters. (Feb. ‘11)
- The El Dorado Machine, by Douglas Preston: Not an investigative piece, but interesting all the same. This uses the case study of the elusive ‘White City’ in Honduras to demonstrate how technological innovation can be used to both confirm old myths and to expose erroneous (and in this case colonialist) assumptions. An especially good piece if you’re interested in archaeology/anthropology. (May ‘13)
- **The Deepest Dive, by Alec Wilkinson: The dangerous world of free diving and the people who compete in it. An intriguing look at a high-risk, low-gain sport. (Aug. ‘09)
- The Mark of a Masterpiece, by David Grann: Who authenticates the authenticators? Separating fine art from its forgeries. An exciting read for anyone with the remotest of interests in art, criminality, and commodity, this piece reveals a host of controversies in the world of art verification. A beautifully written report that does its best to uncover the true picture underneath that painted by its subjects. (July ‘10)
- The Pink Panthers, by David Samuels: Diamond heists! If you’ve ever watched Reservoir Dogs (or any heist movie, really), please read this. It follows the tale of a group of Balkan criminals who have pulled off heists all over the world, and the international police effort to apprehend them. One touch I really liked was how one of the founding members, in an initial heist, painted a bench outside his target so that no witnesses would be sitting down in the vicinity as they pulled off the heist. I enjoyed the article’s focus on the political context around this group’s actions. (April ‘10)
- **A Murder Foretold, by David Grann: Guatamalan politics, law, corruption, and assassination. A fascinating sketch of a country, woven around a compelling tale of one man’s quest for truth and his posthumous attempt to bring down the government. A gorgeous, murky story, incredible but true. (April ‘11)
- **Patriot Games, by David Remnick: An analysis of Putin in the context of Sochi 2014. Especially interesting to read in light of recent events. (March ‘14)
- **The Celebrity Defense, by Jeffrey Toobin: A look at the Polanski case and its reception in the spheres of celebrity and the general public. Having read about celebrity crimes - specifically sexual assault - at great length, this article wasn’t particularly enlightening for me, but it represents a very useful jumping-off point for anyone interested in this grimy, terrible reality. I recommend also browsing the list of names on the Polanski petition - I guarantee you will find people who you had previously admired. This and the Woody Allen case are two instances of white male abusers who have continued to be embraced by the industry in which they work. Everyone should be aware of this issue. (Dec. ‘09)
- The Pharoh, by Ian Parker: How one man has infused Egyptian archaeology with a sense of celebrity and glamour—but at what cost? Fascinating, especially in the context of the Arab Spring which occurred a couple of years after the publication of this article. (Nov. ‘09)
- **The Interpreter, by John Colapinto: The Chomskyan universal grammar, and the small monolingual tribe which acts as its counterexample. For the novice, a vivid introduction to theories of language; for the adept, a fresh perspective on an evolving debate.(April ‘07)
- One of a Kind, by Seth Mnookin: What to do when you -or your child -suffers from a disease science has yet to catalogue. An ultimately uplifting look at how modern technology, and particularly social media, can help with the medical, emotional, and academic issues raised with an unknown disease. (July ‘14)
There are so many more articles I could recommend to you—if you have a particular interest (for me it’s crime, archaeology, and pop culture/politics, so I worry my recommendations might be slightly skewed in that regard) message me and I’ll compile a Greatest Hits for you <3
The New Yorker is also committed to publishing fiction from new and established authors, and has one issue each year that is solely comprised of fiction. I am thinking about making a post for my favourite fictional pieces of the last seven years: would anyone be interested?
I hope you give one or two of these a click. I was lucky enough to have a subscription for the last year but am now totally broke so it has sadly lapsed. :( I thought I would take this opportunity to highlight some of my faves to you all whilst they’re available for free. Happy reading!