10 more brilliant longreads
Once again, I spent most of a recent holiday binge-reading longreads I’d been stockpiling. Here are my 10 favourites, roughly in order.
[I did the same thing last year — here’s that instalment]
David Grann’s brilliant exposition of two assassinations in Guatemala in 2009, whose investigations almost toppled the government before reaching a bizarre final twist.
Andrew O’Hagan’s 35,000-word opus on the rise and fall of Craig Wright, the Australian mathematician who may or may not be the pseudonymous inventor of Bitcoin, Satoshi Nakomoto.
Brian Burrough’s fascinating investigation into the woman who entranced a string of east and west-coast celebrities in the early 80s, from Billy Joel to Art Garfunkel to Robert De Niro … all entirely by telephone.
Seth Stevenson’s account of the 2014 Sinquefield Cup, chess’s premier annual competition, casting back to plot the game’s rise, fall, and machinations since its Cold War heyday of Bobby Fischer.
Sarah O’Conner traces the origins of the burgeoning “gig economy” — and the workers’ rights conundrum it augurs — to the early-20th-century “scientific management” Taylorism movement.
Eric Schlosser’s examination of America’s nuclear weapons infrastructure, focussing on the the “launch-on-warning” Minuteman III missiles permanently aimed at 12,000 targets in Russia and operated by 1976 IBM computers (and completely unstoppable once launched).
A blistering, Hunter S-style account of an evening at the Republican National Congress on the eve of Donald Trump’s nomination, where a sociopathic, nihilistic new breed of internet trolls mix with the neo-fascists who actually mean it.
John Harris’s opus on the existential challenges facing the Left in a globalised world of disorganised labor, popular nationalism, and neoliberalism.
Luke Harding’s account of the final days of Alexander Litvinenko, the FSB agent turned MI5 informant, who deconstructed his own death as he lay dying of Polonium poisoning on a London hospital bed in 2006.
On New Year’s Day 1985, Eastern Air Lines Flight 980 was carrying 29 passengers, the US Ambassador to Bolivia’s wife, Bolivia’s richest man, and a hell of a lot of contraband when it crashed into the side of a 21,112-foot mountain near La Paz.
(And one for luck …)
Ian Jack’s epic piece plotting the history of Britain’s nuclear submarines, their status should Scotland leave the Union, and even their eventual obsolescence.