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For Richard Family, Loss and Love

A family forever changed by the Boston Marathon bombings, one year later:

Bill, still in pain from an unsuccessful operation to repair his ruptured eardrums, continued to struggle making restaurant reservations for four and found himself instinctively grabbing five plates for dinner, having to put one back.

After a while, they were happy to see neighbors, but it wasn’t always comfortable. Some weren’t sure what to say to the Richards and felt strange talking about themselves, at times apologizing for carping about things that seemed so trivial by comparison, like a backache.

But Bill and Denise were buoyed by a steady flow of good will.

AUTHOR:David Abel
PUBLISHED: April 13, 2014
LENGTH: 54 minutes (13683 words)

The Top 5 Longreads of the Week

Our favorite stories of the week, featuring Mother Jones, Fast Company, The Georgia Review, Pacific Standard, and The Boston Globe.
PUBLISHED: March 21, 2014

Putin's Long-Term Strategy: The Eurasian Union

Neyfakh explores Vladimir Putin’s pursuit of a Eurasian Union, and the roots of Eurasianism:

Putin famously once said the breakup of the Soviet Union was “the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century,” and has also reportedly promised that the Eurasian Union would be based on the “best values of the Soviet Union.” But to say the project is simply an effort to reassemble the USSR is crude and incorrect, say Russia analysts. Instead, Putin’s efforts should be seen as a realization of an entirely different, and much less familiar idea called Eurasianism—a philosophy that has roots in the 1920s, and which grew out of Russia’s longstanding identity crisis about whether or not it should strive to be a part of Europe.

PUBLISHED: March 19, 2014
LENGTH: 9 minutes (2311 words)

The Botmaker Who Sees Through the Internet

A profile of Darius Kazemi, who is turning Twitter bots into an art form: He’s created dozens of automated programs whose purposes can run the gamut from cultural commentary to complete nonsense:

Kazemi is part of a small but vibrant group of programmers who, in addition to making clever Web toys, have dedicated themselves to shining a spotlight on the algorithms and data streams that are nowadays humming all around us, and using them to mount a sharp social critique of how people use the Internet—and how the Internet uses them back.

PUBLISHED: Jan. 28, 2014
LENGTH: 9 minutes (2258 words)

Longreads Best of 2013: The Best Sentence I Read This Year

Catherine Cloutier is an online producer at The Boston Globe’s
PUBLISHED: Dec. 5, 2013

Why Russia's Drinkers Resist AA

Alcoholism remains a national epidemic in Russia, but a treatment program like Alcoholics Anonymous has failed to take hold in the country. Leon Neyfakh explores why:

A further obstacle to AA’s growth in Russia is something more philosophical: At a basic level, its premise of sobriety through mutual support just doesn’t make sense to a lot of Russians. In the past, this has taken the form of anti-Western suspicion—“What are the Americans trying to get out of this?” is a question Moseeva used to hear regularly. But more fundamentally, the group-therapy dynamic collides with a skepticism about the possibility of ordinary people curing each other of anything. “The idea that another drunk can help you is asinine to most Russians,” said Alexandre Laudet, a social psychologist who has researched Russian alcoholism.

PUBLISHED: Nov. 4, 2013
LENGTH: 10 minutes (2526 words)

Walter Willett's Food Fight

Harvard professor Walter Willett is one of the most influential nutritionists in the world whose studies tracking hundred of thousands of health professionals have resulted in data shaping what we eat and how it affects our health:

"He’s tasting an almond-and-grape gazpacho when someone brings over a woman named Cindy Goody and, by way of introduction, says, 'Walter, she’s trying to do good work at McDonald’s.'

"He phrases his greeting in the form of a question, 'Why can’t you make a good veggie burger?'

"Goody, the senior director of nutrition for the 14,000 US outlets, appears taken aback. 'We tried it,' she says tentatively.

"'Aw, that was a setup!' Willett complains, waving his hand. He tasted one many years ago in an airport McDonald’s, and it was so awful he couldn’t finish it. 'I’m convinced you guys made it bad to turn off people from veggie burgers.'"
PUBLISHED: July 28, 2013
LENGTH: 17 minutes (4420 words)

Same-sex Couples in the South Left Out of Trend

Buoyed by marriage equality victories on the coasts, same-sex couples are fighting for equality rights in the South:

"Not only are gay couples in Mississippi not allowed to marry, they cannot legally adopt — even though a quarter of same-sex couples here are raising children together, the highest percentage of any state, according to the Williams Institute.

"Nor are gays and lesbians in Mississippi protected from being fired or otherwise discriminated against by employers for their sexual orientation. (A federal employment protection bill is pending in Congress.) Some employers have barred gay workers from participating in the marriage-license campaign, saying it would be 'bad for business.'

"Yet, couples like Welch and Lockwood refuse to move to a more liberal environment. This is home. They know the battle for equality in the South is unlikely to be won politically — at the ballot box or through state lawmakers — or through state courts. All they can do is share their personal stories in hopes that, on some level, their families, co-workers, neighbors, even the clerk at the courthouse will come to understand."
AUTHOR:Tracy Jan
PUBLISHED: July 14, 2013
LENGTH: 10 minutes (2527 words)

The Letter

S.I. Newhouse's contentious appointment of Robert Gottlieb as the editor of The New Yorker in 1987, and what Gottlieb did to bring the magazine into a new era:

"Orlean was an early Gottlieb-era hire. 'She came in off the street,' said McGrath, her Talk of the Town editor (though, she noted, Gottlieb was often her second reader). 'She came into my office and, in the space of a twenty-minute conversation, she had about a hundred ideas for stories, and about eighty of them were good.'

"Orlean laughed about this. 'By the standards of The New Yorker I was being brought in off the street. I had a book contract; I was writing for Rolling Stone and The Boston Globe, so that's hilarious. That's so classic of The New Yorker to feel that if you weren't at The New Yorker you were essentially homeless and living hand-to-mouth on crap.'

"'When I got there the mood was not very nice,' she said. Orlean was unusual among New Yorker writers, most of whom, she said, had spent their careers at the magazine and hadn't written for other publications. 'It's a little bit like, I wasn't a virgin, and more typically people came to The New Yorker as virgins. They came into their adulthood there.' The place was cliquey, she said, but that has since dissipated, in no small part because Gottlieb brought in so many writers who 'weren't born in the manger.' At this point, 'that aristocratic, inbred feel—that if you weren't there from birth you didn't deserve to be there—has really dissolved.'"
AUTHOR:Elon Green
PUBLISHED: July 3, 2013
LENGTH: 17 minutes (4379 words)