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Below, our favorite stories of the week.

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1. The Desperate Battle to Destroy ISIS

Luke Mogelson | The New Yorker | Feb 6, 2017 | 77 minutes (19,470 words)

The Nineveh Province swat team are part of the multi-agency effort to take Mosul back from ISIS, but their approach differs from other groups. The elite force is composed entirely of Iraqis who ISIS has physically or personally injured, and who want revenge. Their war is personal, and they will not back down.

2. How To Build An Autocracy

David Frum | The Atlantic | Jan 30, 2017 | 32 minutes (8,248 words)

The preconditions are present in the U.S. today. Here’s the playbook Donald Trump could use to set the country down a path toward illiberalism.

3. M.I.A.

Matthew Shaer | The Atavist | Jan 26, 2017 | 36 minutes (9,200 words)

In 1968, an American soldier named John Hartley Robertson disappeared in the jungles of Laos after his helicopter was shot down. His body was never found — until 2008, when a Christian missionary discovered a man in Vietnam who claimed to be Robertson.

4. How Black Books Lit My Way Along The Appalachian Trail

Rahawa Haile | BuzzFeed | Feb 2, 2017 | 8 minutes (2,159 words)

Eritrean-American essayist and short story writer Rahawa Haile writes about hiking the Appalachian Trail and traveling through trail towns alone as a black woman. She brings along books by black authors and leaves them behind for others to find at shelters along the way. In keeping with her 2015 Short Story of the Day effort to garner exposure for underrepresented writers, she writes, “This year, I created a library of black excellence along the Appalachian Trail.”

5. Real Life: My Sister, My Brother

Meghan Tear Plummer | Glamour | Mar 17, 2015 | 8 minutes (2,002 words)

One woman adjusts to her sister’s transition to a man, and as she mourns the loss of the sibling she knew, she shows what a new identity requires of a family and the world.