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Evening at Dorneywood

Alan Rusbridger, 22 June 1989

The Whitelaw Memoirs 
by William Whitelaw.
Aurum, 280 pp., £14.95, May 1989, 1 85410 028 9
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... In the early summer of 1981 a string of riots burned up and down Britain like Armada beacons. Brixton resembled post-Blitz London. Whole areas of Manchester, Preston, Wolverhampton and Hull were reduced to rubble and glass. In July, Liverpool lit up in a haze of flame and CS gas. Shortly afterwards Manchester erupted once again. The Home Secretary at the time was William Whitelaw ...

Down among the press lords

Alan Rusbridger, 3 March 1983

The Life and Death of the Press Barons 
by Piers Brendon.
Secker, 288 pp., £12.50, December 1982, 0 436 06811 7
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... It invented atrocity stories, manufactured interviews, published fake pictures, perverted real incidents. It conducted the most sustained campaign of jingoism in the history of its country. When a battleship was sunk it shrieked: ‘War Sure.’ By the time hostilities commenced in April the paper’s streamer headlines were five and a half inches high ...

Parkinson Lobby

Alan Rusbridger, 17 November 1983

... Until supper time on Thursday, 14 October, when Miss Sara Keays lifted her telephone to summon the Times to her drawing-room, a mere four people in public life had openly censured Mr Cecil Parkinson and suggested he should resign: two Tory MPs, the Bishop of Bath and Wells, and the Mayor of Potters Bar. Ranged against this lone and motley quartet were the Prime Minister, the Cabinet, the Chairman of the Conservative Party, most of Fleet Street, 70 Tory MPs, 62 per cent of the British public, Bernard Levin, 90 per cent of telephone callers to Conservative Central Office and a briefcase full of letters from Mr Parkinson’s constituents ...

Animal Crackers

Michael Neve, 22 May 1986

Sexual Selection and Animal Genitalia 
by William Eberhard.
Harvard, 244 pp., £21.25, January 1986, 0 674 80283 7
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Females of the Species 
by Bettyann Kevles.
Harvard, 270 pp., £16.95, May 1986, 0 674 29865 9
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A Concise History of the Sex Manual 
by Alan Rusbridger and Posy Simmonds.
Faber, 204 pp., £10.95, April 1986, 0 571 13519 6
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... in a clapped-out language of description, a variety of flat American academic prose or, in Alan Rusbridger’s case, of tedious schoolboy prurience. This makes Rusbridger’s non-event of a book easily forgotten. In the case of William Eberhard and Bettyann Kevles, the sense of linguistic imprisonment is more ...

The Club and the Mob

James Meek: The Shock of the News, 6 December 2018

Breaking News: The Remaking of Journalism and Why It Matters Now 
by Alan Rusbridger.
Canongate, 464 pp., £20, September 2018, 978 1 78689 093 1
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... In Moscow, where I was living at the time (employed by the Guardian, as it happens, the paper Alan Rusbridger edited from 1995 to 2015), dawn comes early in summer and it was hot outside, though the city was asleep.* I switched on the computer I’d recently bought and connected to the internet. Once the screech of the dial-up had subsided and the ...

Text-Inspectors

Andrew O’Hagan: The Good Traitor, 24 September 2014

No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA and the Surveillance State 
by Glenn Greenwald.
Hamish Hamilton, 259 pp., £20, May 2014, 978 0 241 14669 9
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... while the source is cool and inscrutable. Snowden later told the Guardian’s editor, Alan Rusbridger, that if ‘I end up in chains in Guantánamo Bay … I can live with it’. Greenwald is a former constitutional and human rights lawyer, and now a journalist who isn’t afraid to point the finger at the conventional and the ...

Corbyn in the Media

Paul Myerscough, 21 October 2015

... she would surely be more open to the ‘new politics’ than the paper would have been under Alan Rusbridger. It hasn’t worked out that way. What started with denial, as the unions and constituency Labour Parties came out for Corbyn and people registered as supporters in their tens of thousands, soon turned to horror, and finally to stunned ...

Phwoar!

Suzanne Moore: Amanda Platell, 6 January 2000

Scandal 
by Amanda Platell.
Piatkus, 297 pp., £5.99, November 1999, 0 7499 3119 1
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... In some parallel universe I like to think that Max Hastings and Paul Dacre and John Witherow and Alan Rusbridger behave like this. Dominic Lawson may well have said to Charles Moore in some gentleman’s outfitters what Sharon says to Georgina: ‘Well, we can’t both buy this, can we, babe? And I know who looks best in it.’ Both women, you see, are ...

Diary

Inigo Thomas: Michael Wolff’s Book Party, 8 February 2018

... got such gossip that you feel obliged to hand over your own, however thin. He once said that Alan Rusbridger hired him to come to London because the Guardian was struggling to get any of their reporters into the Conservatives’ parties – how was the left to know what the right was thinking? Michael has no special affection for the New Yorker, he ...

Incendiary Devices

Daniel Soar: The Edward Snowden Story, 20 February 2014

The Snowden Files: The Inside Story of the World’s Most Wanted Man 
by Luke Harding.
Guardian Faber, 346 pp., £12.99, February 2014, 978 1 78335 035 3
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... littered the tables; there were takeaway cups and other detritus.’ Into this fervid scene steps Alan Rusbridger, the editor in chief, fresh off the plane from London. Somebody knocks over a cappuccino. This is a gift to Rusbridger, who grabs a newspaper to clear up the mess and says: ‘We are literally wiping the ...

Showboating

John Upton: George Carman, 9 May 2002

No Ordinary Man: A Life of George Carman 
by Dominic Carman.
Hodder, 331 pp., £18.99, January 2002, 0 340 82098 5
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... opposition. On hearing that the Guardian was being sued for libel by Jonathan Aitken, its editor, Alan Rusbridger, remarked: ‘We’d better get Carman before Aitken does.’ But Carman QC was never a libel expert and, like other converts to this specialist area of law, relied on a succession of talented juniors to do the academic preparation for ...

Superficially Pally

Jenny Turner: Richard Sennett, 22 March 2012

Together: The Rituals, Pleasures and Politics of Co-Operation 
by Richard Sennett.
Allen Lane, 323 pp., £25, February 2012, 978 0 7139 9874 0
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... in this vice,’ he says. ‘When I once rehearsed the Schubert Octet with the clarinettist Alan Rusbridger, he remarked to me at one point: “Professor” – he is a journalist by trade so this form of address is not entirely a compliment …’ Two pages on the 1900 Paris Expo skip on to three on Georg Simmel, then somehow Saint-Just and Marx ...

Let Us Pay

John Lanchester: Can newspapers survive?, 16 December 2010

... It’s worth taking a moment to wonder if that would matter. At the moment, to borrow the analysis Alan Rusbridger offered in a long blog post, the media landscape is divided into three main players. 1. The press. 2. The big public broadcasters. 3. The new media, which are lively, chaotic, decentralised, prone to fads and crazes, and are opening up access ...

Document Number Nine

John Lanchester: Chinese Cyber-Sovereignty, 10 October 2019

The Great Firewall of China: How to Build and Control an Alternative Version of the Internet 
by James Griffiths.
Zed, 386 pp., £20, March 2019, 978 1 78699 535 3
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We Have Been Harmonised: Life in China’s Surveillance State 
by Kai Strittmatter.
Old Street, 328 pp., £9.99, May 2019, 978 1 913083 00 7
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... or nescience, or because we’re thinking about other things. In 2013, at the behest of Alan Rusbridger, I spent a week reading the Snowden papers that the Guardian had to destroy in the UK but kept a copy of in New York. They provided a striking portrait of the security services’ attitudes to the huge boon given them by new technology. After ...

You Are the Product

John Lanchester: It Zucks!, 17 August 2017

The Attention Merchants: From the Daily Newspaper to Social Media, How Our Time and Attention Is Harvested and Sold 
by Tim Wu.
Atlantic, 416 pp., £20, January 2017, 978 1 78239 482 2
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Chaos Monkeys: Inside the Silicon Valley Money Machine 
by Antonio García Martínez.
Ebury, 528 pp., £8.99, June 2017, 978 1 78503 455 8
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Move Fast and Break Things: How Facebook, Google and Amazon have Cornered Culture and What It Means for All of Us 
by Jonathan Taplin.
Macmillan, 320 pp., £18.99, May 2017, 978 1 5098 4769 3
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... but on how to make the maximum amount of advertising revenue from you. In September 2016, Alan Rusbridger, the former editor of the Guardian, told a Financial Times conference that Facebook had ‘sucked up $27 million’ of the newspaper’s projected ad revenue that year. ‘They are taking all the money because they have algorithms we don’t ...

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