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The Top 5 Longreads of the Week

Our favorite stories of the week, featuring The Atlantic, National Geographic, Michael O. Church, Wired, and Jacobin.
PUBLISHED: July 25, 2014

The New Face of Hunger

One-sixth of Americans don't have enough nutritious food to eat on a daily basis. Tracie McMillan talks to some of these families, while three photographers set out to different parts of the country to document what life looks like when you don't know where your next meal is coming from.
PUBLISHED: July 17, 2014
LENGTH: 12 minutes (3171 words)

The Hunt for Life Beyond Earth

strobiologists, those who study the science of life beyond Earth, are examining the following question: "Are we alone?"
PUBLISHED: July 1, 2014
LENGTH: 18 minutes (4721 words)

The Dogs of War

The canines and their handlers out on the front line:

Two years of training with your dog, three months in-country, every day with Zenit at your side, eating MREs, packing your gear—and your dog’s—humping, working, waiting, waking at midnight to make sure Zenit pees and poops in the designated spot, and suddenly everything, your life as a soldier and handler, your life as hood rat and outsider and striving human being, gets compressed into 15 minutes and 60 yards.

Jose believes he’s onto the pattern. It seems the Taliban have buried IEDs at the access points to the wadi, assuming the troops would feel safer out of sight down in the dry riverbed than exposed in the open fields. It’s all happening so quickly now. He takes deep breaths to tame his excitement and maintain focus.

PUBLISHED: May 23, 2014
LENGTH: 18 minutes (4585 words)

The 2014 National Magazine Award Winners: A Reading List

A collection of stories from Thursday night's awards, including The New Yorker, Time and National Geographic.
PUBLISHED: May 1, 2014

The Ship-Breakers

Bangladeshi men looking for work often end up doing one of the world's most dangerous jobs:

Oceangoing vessels are not meant to be taken apart. They’re designed to withstand extreme forces in some of the planet’s most difficult environments, and they’re often constructed with toxic materials, such as asbestos and lead. When ships are scrapped in the developed world, the process is more strictly regulated and expensive, so the bulk of the world’s shipbreaking is done in Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan, where labor is cheap and oversight is minimal.

Industry reforms have come in fits and starts. India now requires more protections for workers and the environment. But in Bangladesh, where 194 ships were dismantled in 2013, the industry remains extremely dirty and dangerous.

AUTHOR:Peter Gwin
PUBLISHED: May 1, 2014
LENGTH: 5 minutes (1447 words)

Love and Loss on the Seine

The river is a lure for romantics, tourists, sunbathers, anglers, psychiatric patients—le tout Paris.

Most every morning at nine, the emergency responders assigned to the Seine pull on their wet suits and swim around the Île de la Cité. In the course of their circuit around this teardrop-shaped island in the middle of the river in the middle of Paris, the firemen-divers scour the bottom, retrieving bikes, cutlery (which they clean and use in the nearby houseboat where they live), cell phones, old coins, crucifixes, guns, and once, a museum-grade Roman clasp.

By the Pont des Arts, where lovers affix brass locks inscribed with their names (“Steve + Linda Pour la Vie”), they retrieve keys tossed in the water by couples hoping to affirm the eternal nature of their padlocked love. One bridge upriver, at the Pont Neuf, near the Palace of Justice law courts where divorces are decreed, they find wedding bands, discarded when eternal love turns out to be ephemeral.

PUBLISHED: May 1, 2014
LENGTH: 16 minutes (4000 words)

Wild Obsession

The debate over the ownership of wild and exotic animals:

After a hard day of chasing criminals or a boring day of ticketing cars, Harrison would change out of his uniform and drive home to his animals. He always went to the wolves first. His body aching, his mind numbed, he’d let the canines come to him, weaving around his legs. He’d drop down on his knees and then lie flat on his back, the wolves clambering over him. “I would just lie there and let them lick me,” Harrison says, “and it was one of the best feelings in the world.”

Now the animals are gone. Harrison will never again own anything wild or exotic. He believes ownership of all potentially dangerous exotic animals should be banned and is working to make that happen. He underwent a profound transformation, his entire outlook shattered and put back together again in a new way.

PUBLISHED: March 21, 2014
LENGTH: 17 minutes (4312 words)

There’s No Place Like Home

Author and radio personality Garrison Keillor on living most of his life in one place:

When a man has lived in one place for most of his life, he walks around hip-deep in history. He sees that life is not so brief; it is vast and contains multitudes. I drive down Seventh Street to a Twins game and pass the old Dayton’s department store (Macy’s now but still Dayton’s to me), where in my poverty days I shoplifted an unabridged dictionary the size of a suitcase, and 50 years later I still feel the terror of walking out the door with it under my jacket, and I imagine the cops arresting my 20-year-old self and what 30 days in the slammer might’ve done for me. From my seat above first base, I see the meatpacking plant where those men wrestled beef carcasses into trucks and the old Munsingwear factory with the low rumble and whine of machines, and I remember an intense dread of spending one’s days at a power loom making men’s underwear. The building is today an enormous emporium of interior design showrooms, the place to go if you feel the urge to spend a hundred grand on a new bathroom, but to me it’s still the coal mine I was afraid I’d spend my life in. I think about this along about the eighth inning if the Twins are down by a few runs.

PUBLISHED: Jan. 25, 2014
LENGTH: 20 minutes (5197 words)