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Dublin: 15 °C Monday 13 July, 2020

Sitdown Sunday: One photographer's reflection on Woodstock '69

Settle back in a comfy chair and sit back with some of the week’s best longreads.

Punters at the Woodstock festival in 1969.
Punters at the Woodstock festival in 1969.
Image: AP/PA Images

IT’S A DAY of rest, and you may be in the mood for a quiet corner and a comfy chair.

We’ve hand-picked the week’s best reads for you to savour.

1. The Great Land Robbery

The story of how one million black families in America have been uprooted and pushed out from their farmlands.

(The Atlantic, approx 33 mins reading time)

Owners of small farms everywhere, black and white alike, have long been buffeted by larger economic forces. But what happened to black landowners in the South, and particularly in the Delta, is distinct, and was propelled not only by economic change but also by white racism and local white paper. A war waged by deed of title has dispossessed 98 percent of black agricultural landowners in America. They have lost 12 million acres over the past century.

2. ‘Loud, obsessive, tribal’: the radicalisation of remain

Looking at how remainers in the Brexit debate are no longer the moderates and have swung to the fringes of the political sphere.

(The Guardian, approx 28 mins reading time)

Three years of resisting Brexit has taught them a fundamental lesson about politics. They now see that they are just another interest group – and if they want something, they have to fight for it themselves.

3. Three Years of Misery Inside Google, The Happiest Company in Tech

A look at how the Trump era and changing political and social dynamics have impacted the culture inside one of Silicon Valley’s biggest companies.

(Wired, approx 53 mins reading time)

As the Trump era wore on, Google continued to brace itself for all manner of external assaults, and not just from the right. The 2016 election and its aftermath set off a backlash against Silicon Valley that seemed to come from all sides. Lawmakers and the media were waking up to the extractive nature of Big Tech’s free services. And Google – the company that had casually introduced the internet to consumer surveillance, orderer of the world’s information, owner of eight products with more than billion users each – knew that it be an inevitable target.

4. When the Soviet Union Freed the Arctic from Capitalist Slavery

Examines the history of Soviet Russia at the beginning of the 20th century, introducing communism to the Chukotka peninsula and its indigenous people just below the Arctic Circle, and the impact of changing a people’s way of life.

(The New Yorker, approx 17 mins reading time)

What the Chukchi saw in the red tents was foreigners prodding people, giving out pills and powders, cheating on reindeer payments, demanding that youth speak before elders and women before man, peering at the vegetation, and waving their hands over reindeer herds while muttering numbers. They looked as if they cursed everything they touched.

5. The Hunt’s cancellation and Hollywood’s history of self-censorship, explained

A look at the history of self-censorship in Hollywood after film the ‘The Hunt’ – which depicts ‘elites’ hunting ‘normal’ people for sport – had its release plans cancelled due to social and political backlash. 

(Vox, approx 18 mins reading time)

In fact, the history of Hollywood is a tale of self-censorship, the story of an industry that’s tried all kinds of tactics almost since its birth to keep the government out of its business (and its profits). Universal’s actions in response to pressure – no matter how direct or indirect – may be a harbinger of things to come.

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6. Images Present Themselves: A Conversation With Photographer Burk Uzzle

An in-depth interview with photographer Burke Uzzle who was there at the Woodstock music festival in 1969 – which celebrates its 50th anniversary this week – and talks about his experiences at the legendary cultural event.

(Longreads, approx 18 mins reading time)

There was a sense of beauty and peace about the men and women who were in the nude, wandering around and having a great time. The event seemed very likely to turn itself into a people story rather than a music story. They summarized that. They were the essence of it.


A look at the system of Hong Kong booksellers smuggling in banned books into mainland China and what happens when those booksellers begin to disappear.

(New York Times, approx 20 mins reading time).

China’s aggressiveness continues to rattle Hong Kong. “in the past, at least they tried to comply with one country, two systems,” said James To, a legislator in Hong Kong. “This time they were blatant.” For many local residents, the lesson was clear. “One day they will come and snatch you back,” To said. “There is no protection at all.”
More: The best reads from every previous Sitdown Sunday

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