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Manic Street Preachers’ Album The Holy Bible

The Manic Street Preachers at Castle roundabout, London, 1990. Photo by Martyn Goodacre/Getty Images

David Evans | The Holy Bible | Bloomsbury Academic | May 2019 | 17 minutes (2.781 words)


Manic Street Preachers never exactly fit in. When they emerged from South Wales with their debut album Generation Terrorists in 1992, their leopard-print outfits, political sloganeering and widdly-woo guitar riffs already seemed out of date amid the musical movements du jour: Madchester, Shoegaze, Grunge. Critics tended to dismiss them as a quirk of pop history, about as relevant to the zeitgeist as that other Welsh throwback, Shakin’ Stevens.

But when The Holy Bible came out, in August 1994, it felt more than just anachronistic. Rarely has a major record been so spectacularly out of step with its cultural moment. This, after all, was the year Britpop took off; the year of girls-who-do-boys and boys-who-do-girls; the year of the New Lad and his lairy pursuit of sex and drink; the year a former barrister named Anthony Blair began remaking the Labor Party in his own primped, twinkle-toothed image. The dominant mood was a sort of willed optimism. “Things Can Only Get Better,” as D:Ream helpfully put it.

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The Top 5 Longreads of the Week

Ilana Panich-Linsman for The Washington Post via Getty Images

This week, we’re sharing stories from Casey Newton, William Langewiesche, Sarah Miller, Hafizah Geter, and Shannon Keating.

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Yentl Syndrome: A Deadly Data Bias Against Women

Illustration by Homestead

Caroline Criado Perez | An excerpt adapted from Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men | Harry N. Abrams | 22 minutes (5,929 words)

In the 1983 film Yentl, Barbra Streisand plays a young Jewish woman in Poland who pretends to be a man in order to receive an education. The film’s premise has made its way into medical lore as “Yentl syndrome,” which describes the phenomenon whereby women are misdiagnosed and poorly treated unless their symptoms or diseases conform to that of men. Sometimes, Yentl syndrome can prove fatal.

If I were to ask you to picture someone in the throes of a heart attack, you most likely would think of a man in his late middle age, possibly overweight, clutching at his heart in agony. That’s certainly what a Google image search offers up. You’re unlikely to think of a woman: heart disease is a male thing. But this stereotype is misleading. A recent analysis of data from 22 million people from North America, Europe, Asia and Australasia found that women from lower socio-economic backgrounds are 25% more likely to suffer a heart attack than men in the same income bracket.

Since 1989, cardiovascular disease has been the leading cause of death in US women and, following a heart attack, women are more likely to die than men. This disparity in deaths has been the case since 1984, and young women appear to be particularly at risk: in 2016 the British Medical Journal reported that young women were almost twice as likely as men to die in hospital. This may be in part because doctors aren’t spotting at-risk women: in 2016, the American Heart Association also raised concerns about a number of risk-prediction models “commonly used” in patients with acute coronary syndrome, because they were developed in patient populations that were at least two-thirds male. The performance of these risk-prediction models in women “is not well established.”

Common preventative methods may also not work as well in women. Acetylsalicylic acid (aspirin) has been found to be effective in preventing a first heart attack in men, but a 2005 paper found that it had a “nonsignificant” effect in women aged between forty-five and sixty-five. Prior to this study, the authors noted, there had been “few similar data in women.” A more recent study from 2011 found that not only was aspirin ineffective for women, it was potentially harmful “in the majority of patients.” Similarly, a 2015 study found that taking a low dose of aspirin every other day “is ineffective or harmful in the majority of women in primary prevention” of cancer or heart disease. Read more…

Editor’s Roundtable: From WeEarth to The Aunt-o-Sphere (Podcast)

Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images

On our June 14, 2019 roundtable episode of the Longreads Podcast, Editor-in-Chief Mike Dang, Audience Editor Catherine Cusick, Senior Editor Kelly Stout, and Books Editor Dana Snitzky shared what they’ve been reading and nominated stories for the Weekly Top 5 Longreads.

This week, the editors discuss stories in New York Magazine, The New York Times, The Outline, and CrimeReads.

Subscribe and listen now everywhere you get your podcasts.

0:36 The I in We. (, June 10, 2019, New York Magazine

“I have said it once, I will say it again: I want nothing to do with colonies on other planets run by start-upy white dudes.” – Kelly Stout

New York Magazine’s look at WeWork founder Adam Neumann and how, like other start-up founders before him, he has built a company based on cultural hegemony and a cult of personality. The team discusses the absurdity of late-stage capitalism as it is depicted in the piece, as well as the seemingly capitalist communism ideology behind WeWork, which seems to take all of the bad of communism, but none of the good. They also consider the jargon of start-ups and venture capital and question the use of the word ‘community’ as a misleading placeholder for the idea of a network.

12:05 The Making of a YouTube Radical. (, June 8, 2019, The New York Times)

“How to get someone to revert or… I guess blue-pilling isn’t a thing?” – Mike Dang

“Throw up the red pill.” – Kelly Stout

How do you use the Youtube algorithm against right-wing radicals? That’s the question answered by this piece from The New York Times. It follows the story of Caleb Cain, a young, white 20-something who considered himself liberal, but then found himself falling prey to the entertaining tactics used by right-wing Youtubers to gain audiences.

The team discusses the now common refrain that Youtube’s algorithm is dangerous and questions whether it is possible to use it for good. They talk about how we can’t wait around for Youtube to fix the problem and how the left-wing Youtubers who emerge in the piece, mimick the successful aesthetic choices of the right-wing to win back audiences. The team also talks about the strange feeling of watching people you know change their political views drastically and about the challenges of having constructive conversations about privilege in our ‘shut down’ culture.

21:19 There is nothing more depressing than “positive news.” (Joanna Mang, June 12, 2019, The Outline)

“I feel like the question underneath it all is what do I do with mental health management in my news consumption?” – Catherine Cusick

The team weighs the dangers of the trend toward positive news as examined in this critique from the Outline. They talk about Mang’s observation that those who are making money off of “unlikely animal friends” and “dads who beatbox with their babies” are also passively encouraging distrust of news outlets that publish stories about society’s problems, and turning viewers away from having to do anything substantive in response. They consider the idea that bad news encourages a liberal world view by compelling readers to action whereas a retreat from this type of news is a retreat into conservatism. Lastly, they touch on how awareness of this plays into Longreads‘ weekly recommendations.

31:44 The Rise and Fall of the Bank Robbery Capital of the World. (Peter Houlahan, June 11, 2019, CrimeReads)

“I do really love pieces that can teach me something in that tone… in an entertaining way while still covering all the bases. That’s like the sweet spot.”  – Catherine Cusick

In the ’80s in Los Angeles, a bank was robbed every hour of every day, reads the subhead to this book excerpt published by CrimeReads. The piece lays out the lesser-known history of a string of polite bank robberies in the ’80s and the convenience-oriented banks that located themselves next to freeway on-ramps, inadvertently creating the perfect getaway route for criminals. The team discusses using entertainment as an engagement technique and how when this is done in concert with sound reporting, it makes for an ideal Longreads pick.

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Produced by Longreads and Charts & Leisure.

The Top 5 Longreads of the Week

A huge fire on the backlot of Universal Studios burns in the Hollywood Hills on June 1, 2008 in Universal City, California. (Trixie Textor/Getty Images)

This week, we’re sharing stories from Jody Rosen, Reeves Wiedeman, Rebecca Liu, Sara Rimer, and Will Hodge.

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Editor’s Roundtable: Shorthand, Looking Away, Getting It Wrong (Podcast)

Trisha Meile
Trisha Meile, the Central Park jogger. (Duane Braley/Star Tribune via Getty Images)

On our June 7, 2019 roundtable episode of the Longreads Podcast, Essays Editor Sari Botton, Contributing Editor Aaron Gilbreath, and Senior Editor Kelly Stout share what they’ve been reading and nominate stories for the Weekly Top 5 Longreads.

This week, the editors discuss stories in The Cut, The New Yorker, and The California Sunday Magazine.

Subscribe and listen now everywhere you get your podcasts.

0:53 Before, and After, the Jogger (Sarah Weinman, June 3, 2019, The Cut

“It’s so important to push through your discomfort and watch these things and read these stories. It’s important for us to have episodes like this where we’re paying attention to heavy stories about other people’s difficulties that we don’t have.” —Sari Botton

The Cut revisits the story of The Central Park Five with a look at the experiences of the nine women who were raped, assaulted, and one, murdered, by Matias Reyes. Reyes only admitted to the crime years after Manhattan District Attorney Linda Fairstein had, in 1989, charged five innocent young boys with the crimes.

The team discusses the complicity of Fairstein, the police, and the press in vilifying the wrong people, and the way that the womens’ stories, central to everything, were never properly told. They also talk about Ava Duvernet’s When They See Us Netflix series and how it humanizes the boys from a similarly overdue angle. They address the responsibility we have to engage with tough stories, and how a story like this, about racism and misogyny, has reach far beyond New York City.

9:57 R. Kelly and the Damage Done. (, June 3, 2019, The New Yorker)

“To read these two pieces side by side disturbed me further, because on the one hand, you have somebody who’s being falsely accused of rape, and on the other hand, you have somebody saying I was raped, and not being believed.”  —Kelly Stout

The editors respond to Jim DeRogatis’s memoir of reporting on R. Kelly’s alleged victims, as well as his acknowledgement of his failures, prejudices, and the perspective that he lacked as a white member of the press.

The team discusses the blind spots of whiteness, and how white people fail to see what is directly in front of us when it comes to realities non-white communities have long dealt with. Additionally, they look at how in this particular case, information about R. Kelly’s actions was available for years and ignored by reporters. They also address the way members of privileged communities create scapegoats to recalibrate a sense of security after horrible incidents, including hanging on to the idea that the justice system provides protection more than it exacerbates harm.

25:28 The Billboard (Kathy Dobie, May 30, 2019, The California Sunday Magazine)

“Shorthand isn’t enough… victims don’t get the privilege of shorthand.” —Aaron Gilbreath

Artist Stephanie Montgomery was working in a club in Los Angeles, dancing and trying to get her career started, when one of the customers raped her. She told management and the police, but no one did anything. This is a story about the aftermath of that rape, and how Montgomery went on to tell her story by painting a billboard on the I-10 Freeway.

The team continues their conversation about the shortcomings of law enforcement and the media, as well as the meaning and weight of the word victim. They touch on the importance of permitting people who have suffered a trauma to forge their own path to healing. They reiterate the need for details and going beyond shorthand terms like ‘sexual assault’ in these stories. Readers may not want to read or hear these details, but they need to learn them if anything is going to change.

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Produced by Longreads and Charts & Leisure.

We Could Have Had Electric Cars from the Very Beginning

An advertisement depicts a Baker Electric automobile, the Baker Queen Victoria, driven by a young woman, 1909. (Stock Montage/Getty Images)

Dan Albert | An excerpt adapted from Are We There Yet? : The American Automobile Past, Present, and Driverless | W. W. Norton & Co. | June 2019 | 25 minutes (6,750 words)

Most people reasonably expect the story of the evolution of the automobile to begin with the invention of the automobile itself. I’ve disappointed enough people in my life already, so I give you the Jesuit Rat Car of 1672. In that year, missionary Ferdinand Verbiest created a steam wagon to bring the Emperor of China to Jesus, but the car was only big enough to carry a rat.

If you don’t like the Jesuit Rat Car as an automotive first, you might consider Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot’s cannon hauler of 1769. A product of the French army’s skunk works, it was canceled in beta testing. In 1790, Nathan Read got the first American patent for a steam-powered wagon, a remarkable feat because the US Patent Office itself had yet to be invented. Perhaps that counts. In London, Richard Trevithick set a Georgian coach body atop a steam boiler and eight-foot wheels, creating the first giraffe-less carriage. In 1805, American Oliver Evans drove his harbor dredge, the Orukter Amphibolos, down the streets of Philadelphia in hopes of enticing investors for a car business. Philadelphia cobblestone street paving gave horses purchase but shook the Orukter so violently that the wheels broke. Let’s call his the first amphibious car. Read more…

William S. Burroughs and the Cult of Rock ‘n’ Roll

Paul Natkin/WireImage

Casey Rae | William S. Burroughs and the Cult of Rock ‘n’ Roll | University of Texas Press | June 2019 | 28 minutes (4,637 words)


Naked Lunch is inseparable from its author William S. Burroughs, which tends to happen with certain major works. The book may be the only Burroughs title many literature buffs can name. In terms of name recognition, Naked Lunch is a bit like Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue, which also arrived in 1959. Radical for its time, Kind of Blue now sounds quaint, though it is undeniably a masterwork.

Burroughs wrote the bulk of his famous novel Naked Lunch in Tan­gier, Morocco between 1954 and 1957. During those years, Burroughs was strung out and unhappy, living off of his parents’ allowance and getting deeper and deeper into addiction. He had friends but rarely saw them, preferring to spend days at a time staring at his shoes while ensorcelled in a narcotic haze.

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Demonology: A Woman’s Right to Fury

Hulton Archive / Sarah Crichton Books

Darcey Steinke | Excerpt from Flash Count Diary: Menopause and the Vindication of Natural Life | Sarah Crichton Books, an imprint of Farrar, Straus and Giroux | June 2019 | 17 minutes (4,557 words)

I walked up the Q train station steps, pushed through the turnstile, and headed out into the stormy fall night. Even as I left the station, anger swirled in my chest, severe and combustible. I moved away from the dark trees of Prospect Park down toward Flatbush Avenue. Some people say fury makes them blind, unable to see the world around them. I felt the opposite. Rage focused my attention. The wet asphalt reflected a red ATM sign. In the market on the corner, I watched a policeman buy a coffee in a white paper cup. Down Flatbush past the nail salon with the wall of multicolored polish, then past the vegetable stand, lemons and limes shining just inside the glass door, and left on Midwood, where I walked under wild trees, as different from trees in calm sunlight as a living person is from a zombie. Branches moved frantically in the greenish streetlight.

I had my worries. I wasn’t sure I could get the money together for my daughter’s college, and I’d developed a mysterious skin condition, with hives rising up under my bra strap and at the waist of my jeans. Those were on a back burner. In the forefront that night was a rage with a singular focus directed at my husband.

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The Top 5 Longreads of the Week

New Flowers Placed in Central Park at Site of Joggers Attack. Passersby stop to look. Some of the notes were in response to the new medical information about the victim improving. May 02, 1989. (Photo by Michael Norcia/New York Post Archives /(c) NYP Holdings, Inc. via Getty Images)

This week, we’re sharing stories from Sarah Weinman, Stephen Rodrick, Bianca Giaever, James Ross Gardner, and Megan Pugh.

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