Malcolm Macarthur was a well-known Dublin socialite and heir. Suave and urbane, he passed his days mingling with artists and aristocrats, reading philosophy, living a life of the mind. But by 1982, his inheritance had dwindled to almost nothing, a desperate threat to his lifestyle. Macarthur hastily conceived a plan: He would commit bank robbery, of the kind that had become frightfully common in Dublin at the time. But his plan spun swiftly out of control, and he needlessly killed two innocent people. The ensuing manhunt, arrest, and conviction amounted to one of the most infamous political scandals in modern Irish history, contributing to the eventual collapse of a government.
Mark O’Connell spent countless hours in conversation with Macarthur—interviews that veered from confession to evasion. Through their tense exchanges and O’Connell’s independent reporting, a pair of narratives unspools: a riveting account of Macarthur’s crimes and a study of the hazy line between truth and invention. We come to see not only the enormity of the murders but the damage that’s inflicted when a life is rendered into story.
Mark O’Connell is a writer from Dublin. He is the author of Notes from an Apocalypse (2020) and To Be a Machine (2017), which was awarded the 2018 Wellcome Book Prize, the 2019 Rooney Prize for Irish Literature, and was shortlisted for the Baillie Gifford Prize for Non-Fiction. He is a regular contributor to The New York Review of Books, and his work has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, Slate, and The Guardian.
In this launch event, Mark will be in conversation with Conor Creaney, Clinical Associate Professor in NYU's Expository Writing Program.