The nightmare began on July 31, 2009. I was living in Damascus, covering the Middle East as a freelance journalist, with my girlfriend, Sarah Shourd, a teacher. Our friend Josh Fattal had come to see us, and to celebrate, we took a short trip to Iraqi Kurdistan. The autonomous region—isolated from the violence that wracked the rest of Iraq—was a budding Western tourist destination. After two days of visiting castles and museums, we headed to the Zagros Mountains, where locals directed us to a campground near a waterfall. After a breakfast of bread and cheese, we hiked up a trail we’d been told offered beautiful views. We walked for a few hours, up a winding valley between brown mountains mottled with patches of yellow grass that looked like lion’s fur. We didn’t know that we were headed toward the worst 26 months of our lives.
Conventional wisdom says that people won’t read lengthy magazine stories online, but you guys regularly prove otherwise. Many of our top traffic-generating stories have been deeply researched investigations and reported narratives—and we find that plenty of readers stick with them to the bitter end. So here, for your New Year’s pleasure, is a selection of 10 of our best-loved longreads from 2013.
“The next morning, a Saturday, I went out for a late breakfast. When I returned, there was a man sitting upright in my bed, fully clothed and fast asleep. My cell, it turned out, was now a “shared room,” and Amit was my new roommate. He was sleeping off a 36-hour triple shift at his tech-support job. For the next month, Amit and I slept side by side. The bed was wide enough that we didn’t have to touch, but we could hear each other breathing. On nights when the power cut out and the ceiling fan stopped, we would lie awake sweating and cursing and praying for relief.”
Longreads just celebrated its fourth birthday, and it’s been a thrill to watch this community grow since we introduced this service and Twitter hashtag in 2009. Thank you to everyone who participates, whether it’s as a reader, a publisher, a writer—or all three. And thanks to the …
“Gang evidence comes in countless forms. Possession of Machiavelli’s The Prince, Robert Greene’s The 48 Laws of Power, or Sun Tzu’s The Art of War has been invoked as evidence. One inmate’s validation includes a Christmas card with stars drawn on it—alleged gang symbols—among Hershey’s Kisses and a candy cane. Another included a poetry booklet the inmate had coauthored with a validated BGF member. One poem reflected on what it was like to feel human touch after 14 years and another warned against spreading HIV. The only reference to violence was the line, “this senseless dying gotta end.”’
We say this at least once a month. Give it a read and let us know what you think.
"Guillén’s death is the worst-case scenario in a recruiting system that treats young Dominicans as second-class prospects, paying them far less than young Americans and sometimes denying them benefits that are standard in the US minor leagues, such as health insurance and professionally trained medical staff.
MLB regulations allow teams to troll for talent on the cheap in the Dominican Republic: Unlike American kids, who must have completed high school to sign, Dominicans can be signed as young as 16, when their bodies and their skills are far less developed.”
For all the dissimilarities, botched analogies, and tortured comparisons, there has been one connecting thread in Washington’s foreign wars of the last half century that, in recent years at least, Americans have seldom found of the slightest interest: misery for local nationals. Civilian suffering is, in fact, the defining characteristic of modern war in general, even if only rarely discussed in the halls of power or the mainstream media.
It’s a domestic-policy hoedown. Need knowledge on guns, health care, taxes, frackin’, lady parts, and more? We’ve compiled it in a handy index for you - good longreads and great short hits to expand your brain before the political rhetoric tries to fry it.