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What’s in a Home? A Reading List

This week's picks from Emily include stories from Thought Catalog, The Wall Street Journal, Buzzfeed, and The Billfold.
PUBLISHED: Jan. 19, 2014

The Lobotomy Files

This story pick comes from our featured Longreader, Nicole Greenfield, who writes:

I must admit it was the photo of 90-year-old Roman Tritz, clear blue eyes and a blank stare to the camera’s side, that initially drew me into one of my favorite longreads of the week. But the photo didn’t prepare me for the truly harrowing nature of Tritz’s story, a deeply personal look into one of the thousands of forced lobotomies the U.S. government performed on World World II veterans, the details of which are uncovered for the first time in this multimedia feature. The in-depth, but straightforward reporting of such a horrendous trend, performed in the absence of answers, begs all kinds of questions. How could this happen? And, importantly, could it happen again? For it’s impossible not to connect Tritz’s struggle and the stories of veterans today also suffering from PTSD, also without adequate assistance, also afraid, also wondering, as Tritz himself did pre-operation, “Does anybody really care?” This is one that will stick with me for a while.

PUBLISHED: Dec. 13, 2013
LENGTH: 48 minutes (12000 words)

Top 5 Longreads of the Week

Our favorite stories of the week, featuring The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, SB Nation, Priceonomics and Esquire, with a guest pick by Sasha Belenky.
PUBLISHED: Nov. 22, 2013


After their twin daughters were diagnosed with Niemann-Pick Type C, a fatal genetic disease, Hugh and Chris Hempel sought experimental treatments to save their daughters' lives. They went public with their findings and kept detailed medical records to share with researchers, assuming the role of "citizen-scientists":

Ms. Hempel began giving cyclodextrin to the girls in early 2008. "I am posting this message to the entire world to let everyone know that Hugh and I will not sue any doctor, scientist, researcher, hospital or non-profit if anything happens to Addi and Cassi as we embark on trying experimental treatments to save them from Niemann-Pick Type C disease," she wrote in her blog.

From the beginning, scientists said drinking cyclodextrin wasn’t likely to help because not enough of the drug could reach the brain and other organs.

In December 2008, the Hempels’ doctor applied to the Food and Drug Administration for permission to give the girls intravenous infusions. The scientists were alarmed. No one knew how cyclodextrin worked. No one knew effective dose levels. And no one was sure if it was safe.

The planned collaboration of parents and scientists was moving forward. But Chris and Hugh Hempel wanted to set the pace.

PUBLISHED: Nov. 18, 2013
LENGTH: 78 minutes (19565 words)

Lance Armstrong: The Downfall of a Champion

An excerpt from the new book Wheelmen, on the doping scandal that brought down Lance Armstrong, and a scene from the 2004 Tour de France:

"But soon, Landis said, everyone on board realized what was happening. The bus was being transformed into a secret blood transfusion unit.

"The riders had known they would be asked to take blood at some point in the Tour, but weren't told when. As had happened before, someone—sometimes a motorcycle driver who had been hired to do it, sometimes the team chef, sometimes a security worker—had delivered the blood immediately before the transfusions. Engine trouble was just a ruse designed to outsmart the journalists and the French police who suspected the Postal team of doping."
PUBLISHED: Oct. 9, 2013
LENGTH: 17 minutes (4382 words)

Longreads Best of 2012: David Roth

David Roth is a co-founder of, writer for and editor at the sports website The Classical. He writes columns for Sports On Earth and Vice, co-writes The Daily Fix blog-column for the Wall Street Journal online, and writes for The Awl, GQ and other places when there's time and when they'll have him. He's on Twitter, a lot, @david_j_roth.

Read more guest picks from Longreads Best of 2012.
AUTHOR:David Roth
PUBLISHED: Dec. 24, 2012

The Worst Marriage in Georgetown

A marriage of convenience between two socialites in D.C. leads to murder:

"Drath's murder seized the front page of The Washington Post, which was as awkwardly tangled in the story as the rest of the city’s elite. One of The Post’s columnists attended the couple’s dinners, as did the reporter who covered the case for The Wall Street Journal. Over the years, Muth flooded the in-boxes of his media contacts with messages containing his thoughts on the day’s events and knowing tidbits of insider gossip — speculations about covert operations gone awry or rumors about fights between top generals — a habit that didn’t end with his wife’s death. Four days after he supposedly found Drath’s body, Muth forwarded a note that he originally sent to officials in the Pentagon. He intimated that the police considered Drath to be the unfortunate victim of an assassin who was hunting for him. ' have to take a slain wife out to Arlington,' he wrote, 'mourn her, then find her killer.'"
PUBLISHED: July 6, 2012
LENGTH: 24 minutes (6006 words)

Why Software Is Eating The World

Still, we face several challenges. First of all, every new company today is being built in the face of massive economic headwinds, making the challenge far greater than it was in the relatively benign '90s. The good news about building a company during times like this is that the companies that do succeed are going to be extremely strong and resilient. And when the economy finally stabilizes, look out—the best of the new companies will grow even faster. Secondly, many people in the U.S. and around the world lack the education and skills required to participate in the great new companies coming out of the software revolution. This is a tragedy since every company I work with is absolutely starved for talent.
PUBLISHED: Aug. 20, 2011
LENGTH: 9 minutes (2358 words)

Confessions of Google Employee No. 59

"The most important thing to consider," I began, "is that our own internal research shows our competitors are beginning to approach Google's level of quality. In a world where all search engines are equal, we'll need to rely on branding to differentiate us from everyone else." The room grew quiet. I looked around nervously. Had I said something wrong? Yes. Not just wrong but heretical to engineers who believed anything could be improved through the iterative application of intelligence. Co-founder Larry Page made my apostasy clear. "If we can't win on quality," he said quietly, "we shouldn't win at all."
PUBLISHED: July 16, 2011
LENGTH: 11 minutes (2965 words)