The anxiety of influence, Times style

Reader Sean O’Brien wrote New York Times reporter Scott Shane to ask if he was alluding to the Gulag Archipelago in the lead sentence to his big page-one story on convicted Islamic terrorists incarcerated in federal prisons, about which I wrote here. Shane’s lead is: “It is the other Guantánamo, an archipelago of federal prisons that stretches across the country, hidden away on back roads.” Sean commented to Shane: “Never would have thought of federal prisons as such.”

Shane responded: “No, though after writing it that occurred to me. I’m a big fan of Solzhenitsyn.”

I’m not sure if that means it occurred to him after writing the story and before publication, or after. In any event, he expresses no embarrassment, and the echo is of a piece with the story’s slant.

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