Giraffe Edition 31

Hic sunt camelopardus: this historical edition of The Browser is presented for archaeological purposes; links and formatting may be broken.

Watching The Eclipse

David Remnick | New Yorker | 3rd August 2014

Virtuoso dissection of Mike McFaul's doomed ambassadorship to Moscow, showing how he was plunged into a hostile environment without any of the necessary skills or experience and duly imploded. Spliced into the middle is a passage of current reportage from Moscow, interviewing various leading lights of Putinism — Kiselyov, Markov, Dugin, Prokhanov — who sound, without exaggeration, to be insane (11,500 words)

Life On The Eve Of War

Nigel Jones et al | Telegraph | 22nd July 2014

Tour d'horizon of English bourgeois life in 1914 drawing on the Telegraph's archives: Fashion, culture, cars, food, and — perhaps incongruously — women's suffrage, described by the Telegraph of the day as "a hopeless exercise". Cars were already popular. Planes were a novelty, and safety was improving. Only 3% of pilots died in 1912. "Six years earlier, with just five pilots in the world, one had been killed" (4,900 words)

Interview: Amos Oz On Gaza

Dennis Stute | Deutsche Welle | 30th July 2014

Oz begins with a question of his own: "What would you do if your neighbor across the street sits down on the balcony, puts his little boy on his lap and starts shooting machine gun fire into your nursery?" His qualified support for the Israeli military action in Gaza — "justified, but excessive" — may surprise. That, as he says, "is where the difference lies between a European pacifist and an Israeli peacenik like myself" (1,700 words)

The History Of ‘Scientist’

Melinda Baldwin | Reniassance Mathematicus | 10th July 2014

The word 'scientist' was coined by an academic in 1833 "in response to Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s strongly expressed objection to men of science using the term 'philosopher' to describe themselves". But the British scientific establishment rejected the term for a century. 'Man of science' remained the preferred usage, by analogy with 'man of letters'. Nature allowed 'scientist' in 1924 — if contributors insisted (1,100 words)

War And Peace: Many Stories, Many Lives

James Wood | Guardian | 1st August 2014

Tolstoy began his novel intending to write a Russian family story in the manner of Trollope, set in 1856 and called All's Well That Ends Well. But he found he couldn't tell that story without reaching back to the Decembrist rebellion of 1825; which in turn meant reaching back to Napoleon's invasion of Moscow; which is where he ended up, writing one of the greatest novels of any place or time (2,070 words)

Art Of The Theatre: Tom Stoppard

Shusha Guppy | Paris Review | 1st December 1988

Classic interview. Every bit as brilliant as you might hope. "In the theater there is often a tension, almost a contradiction, between the way real people would think and behave, and a kind of imposed dramaticness. I like dialogue that is slightly more brittle than life. I have always admired those 1940s filmscripts where every line is written with a sharpness and economy that is frankly artificial" (6,720 words)

Video of the day: We Tortured Some Folks

What to expect: One minute from Obama's history-making press conference

Thought for the day

"It's only words. Unless they're true"
— David Mamet

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