Deborah Friedell

Deborah Friedell is a contributing editor at the LRB.

Short Cuts: The Freedom Caucus

Deborah Friedell, 16 November 2023

In​ 2013, Mark Meadows was a new congressman from North Carolina. He’d owned a restaurant, then worked in real estate, but felt the call to rescue his country from godless socialism. He’d made a promise to his constituents: if they sent him to Washington, he would send ‘Mr Obama home, to Kenya or wherever it is’. The Republicans controlled the House of Representatives...

Something on Everyone: Hoover’s Secrets

Deborah Friedell, 27 July 2023

J. Edgar Hoover (wearing the hat) with Clyde Tolson in 1936.

Seventy years ago​, Gallup asked Americans for their opinion of J. Edgar Hoover. Only 2 per cent expressed strong disapproval. It was a result, the pollsters claimed, ‘virtually without parallel in surveys that have dealt with men in public life’. For decades, Hoover could luxuriate in the knowledge that he was,...

She received so much post, much of it hate mail, that it had to be delivered to her on special trucks; three secretaries, all called Madeline, helped her sort through her letters and turned the most threatening ones over to the FBI. In front of the White House, a group of women attempted to hang her in effigy: they said that they were all mothers, and that Thompson wanted ‘to give away a million boys’ lives in blood and pain’. Senators from Idaho, Montana and North Dakota called for her to be investigated as a ‘British agent’. How else to explain her comment, during the Battle of Britain, that if ‘democracy perishes in Britain, it will not be because the British people did not fight Hitler with all they had; it will be because … the world’s greatest democracy and brother free nation allowed them to perish without adequate aid’? It didn’t help that her father, a Methodist minister in upstate New York, had been born in Durham: proof of her divided loyalty.

From The Blog
19 October 2022

Trump was shocked that a Democratic congresswoman from the Upper East Side wouldn’t side with him during his first impeachment trial; he’d once donated to her campaign. What did she think the money was for?

The lawyers who tried to uphold the Texas statutes – ostensibly representing the Dallas district attorney, Henry Wade – argued that whoever Roe really was, she didn’t have sufficient ‘standing’ to bring her case to the Supreme Court. The plaintiff had to be someone who would be harmed if the law wasn’t overturned. Given the ‘normal 266-day human gestation period’, and the fact that it had taken more than a year for Roe v. Wade to reach the court, Roe must already have delivered a child, or miscarried, or found a way to have an abortion after all. The court batted this challenge away. ‘Pregnancy often comes more than once to the same woman,’ the majority decided. ‘If man is to survive, it will always be with us.’ Otherwise, Roe hardly appears in the judicial opinion that granted Americans the right to abortion ‘free of interference by the state’. Her anonymity, her everywomanishness, suited the court fine: Roe was just a stand-in. But Norma McCorvey – who would later say that she’d agreed to become Jane Roe in exchange ‘for a piece of pizza and a beer’ – never saw it that way.

Read anywhere with the London Review of Books app, available now from the App Store for Apple devices, Google Play for Android devices and Amazon for your Kindle Fire.

Sign up to our newsletter

For highlights from the latest issue, our archive and the blog, as well as news, events and exclusive promotions.

Newsletter Preferences