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Dublin: 7 °C Monday 18 November, 2019

Sitdown Sunday: 'I said I was never going back' - the first look at The Last Jedi

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

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. Dunkirk

Source: Warner Bros. Pictures/YouTube

The Christopher Nolan film Dunkirk is set for release this summer – so let’s whet our appetites by reading this extract from the book Churchill and Orwell: The Fight For Freedom, about the incident.

(Foreign Policy, approx 18 mins reading time)

The historical record is mixed, but one quite persuasive piece of evidence is that Hitler’s order stopping his ground forces was sent unencrypted, making it possible for the British to hear and understand it immediately as a kind of peace offering. Later in the war, Hitler took to complaining that he had been too nice to the British. For example, Walter Warlimont, a general in the German military headquarters, reported that Hitler stated, “Churchill was quite unable to appreciate the sporting spirit of which I have given proof by refraining from creating an irreparable breach between the British and ourselves. We did, however, refrain from annihilating them at Dunkirk.”

2. Life at the Daily Mail

Perhaps not for those of a sensitive disposition (c-words abound), here’s Andrew O’Hagan reviewing the unauthorised story of the Daily Mail. (Email address needed to read for free).

(London Review of Books, approx 15 mins reading time)

 Every day in Dacre’s paper, the people who make up the population of Britain, the people who teach your children and bandage your wounds, drive your trains or clean your floors, are described as aliens and forgers and scum. The Mail fought for justice for one black man, and long may the editor plume on it: the paper he presides over is in no hurry to gain justice for any others. Quite the opposite: the Mail in its present form pictures Britain as a place populated by delinquents and bomb-makers, sexual deviants, spongers, social workers and gay bishops, a dark and fruity manifestation of the editor’s daily fears.

3. The Last Jedi

Source: Star Wars/YouTube

It’s finally here: the first in-depth preview of the next Star Wars movie, The Last Jedi.

(Vanity Fair, approx 27 mins reading time)

“When I read the script for Episode VIII, I went, ‘Oh my God, we’re going back?’ Because I said I was never going back,” Hamill told me when I sat down with him recently at his home in Malibu. He wondered, in vain, if they could drop him in by chopper this time, “which is so clueless of me, because there’s no landing pad, and it would mar the beauty of it all,” he said. Hamill is a youthful 65 but a sexagenarian nevertheless; whereas the fit young members of the crew were given 45 minutes to get up to the now iconic Rey-Luke meeting spot—carrying heavy equipment—Hamill was allotted an hour and a half, “and I had to stop every 10, 15 minutes to rest.”

4. Enda Walsh on stage

The New Yorker has taken a look at the work of Irish playwright Enda Walsh (Discopigs), as his new play Arlington arrives in Brooklyn.

(The New Yorker, approx 12 mins reading time)

“Arlington” takes place in a large, bare room, furnished with plastic chairs, a fish tank, a radio, and a potted Swiss-cheese plant. The room is one of thousands in a group of towers somewhere on the Irish coast, or any coast. When Isla, played with beautiful ferocity by the Irish actress Charlie Murphy, peers out the window, she sees seagulls. It’s a three-character play in three acts, in which two of the characters are in solitary confinement—almost, as they are watched by an overseer, who has taken the job because the man who held it previously has disappeared.

5. The poisoned generation

shutterstock_412724332 Source: Shutterstock/Jeff Stevery

People living in New Orleans’ housing developments were being slowly poisoned by lead – and it turned into a long-running fierce court battle for justice.

(The Atlantic, approx 38 mins reading time)

Around the time Ryan was entering kindergarten and Ronnie was supposed to be learning how to count to 10, the boys began struggling with the childhood learning goals Billieson set for them. “They had learning disabilities, and when I say disabilities, I mean learning at a slower pace,” Billieson told me. But black kids in the projects were written off and diagnosed with learning disabilities all the time, and good, affordable doctors were scarce. There still wasn’t much even the most diligent parents could do.

6. How Islamic State gets into the news

This week, Manchester was rocked by a terrorist attack that left 22 people dead. Afterwards, Islamic State claimed responsibility. This article looks into how the group plans its media strategy – and how news outlets deal with it.

(Buzzfeed, approx 12 mins reading time)

They always had a disproportionate media budget in the millions of dollars even when they were short on weapons because media and propaganda are how they recruit, fundraise, and strive to elevate their losing game. (Make no mistake: They are losing; they have lost territory and they are loathed in the Muslim world where most of their victims reside.) Their goal is clear: to place themselves as “the fight” that the lost and unmoored young men from Western countries should come and join for cheap thrills, enslaved young women, and an early death.


In 1976, Elizabeth Hardwick wrote about Billie Holliday, one of the most amazing voices of the 20th century. It’s a piece that’s of its time, but also evoke a life made for writing about.

(NY Books, approx 16 mins reading time)

Her message was otherwise. It was style. That was her meaning from the time she began at fifteen. It does not change the victory of her great effort, of the miraculous discovery or retrieval from darkness of pure style, to know that it was exercised on “I love my man, tell the world I do….” How strange it was to me, almost unbalancing, to be sure that she did not love any man, or anyone. Also often one had the freezing perception that her own people, those around her, feared her. One thing she was ashamed of—or confused by, rather—that she was not sentimental.

More: The best reads from every previous Sitdown Sunday>

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