The Top 5 Longreads of the Week

This week, we’re sharing stories from Diana Moskovitz, Kathryn Ivey, Katherine Laidlaw, Chris Colin, and Josh Dzieza.

This week, we’re trying something new. In addition to our usual list of five great stories to read, we wanted to share a little insight into why we chose each one.

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1. Courtney’s Story*

Diana Moskovitz | Defector | September 13, 2021 | 13,800 words

Diana Moskovitz’s investigation of Ohio State’s handling of domestic violence allegations against one of its football coaches centers the survivor, a young wife and mother named Courtney Smith. It shows how some of the most powerful people in Ohio, and in college football, worked to protect themselves and their reputations, all at Smith’s expense. In the dictionary, “Courtney’s Story” should be found under the listing for “damning.” —Seyward Darby

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2. A New Nurse Struggles to Save Patients in a New COVID Surge

Kathryn Ivey | Scientific American | September 16, 2021 | 1,757

Kathryn Ivey became a registered nurse on July 27th, 2020, and went straight into a COVID ward in Nashville, Tennessee. “I learned how to be a nurse with death constantly at my heels,” she says. Recounting the terror and dread of the ward, she remembers “every single 2 A.M. phone call to family members so they could hear the voice of the person they loved at least one more time.” Ivey’s first-person account is nearly surreal, it’s that terrifying. What’s worse is that so much of this suffering and death could have been prevented. Here in Canada, Alberta’s ICU is near capacity after a premature summer re-opening plan eliminated protections and restrictions. The provincial government only just admitted they were wrong. Now, Canadian nurses like Ivey will have to deal with the casualties of a government more concerned about freedom and economics than human lives. Ivey’s piece should be required reading for anyone who’s eligible, yet remains unvaccinated by choice. “We are haunted by failures now, starting with the failures of policy that allowed human lives to be sacrificed on the altar of the economy and ending with us telling a family that we can do no more. COVID has made martyrs of us all,” says Ivey. —Krista Stevens

3. Rain Boots, Turning Tides, and the Search for a Missing Boy

Katherine Laidlaw | Wired | September 9, 2021 | 6,900 words

I picked this essay because Laidlaw’s powerful, descriptive language pulls you in right from the start. This tragic story of a missing 3-year-old is also told with respect and sympathy toward the family — against the grain of an online community that has them marked as the prime suspects. —Carolyn Wells

4. Hawai’i Is Not Our Playground

Chris Colin | AFAR | September 2, 2021 | 2,943 words

Tourism has “tamed and reinvented [Hawaii] for the mainlander imagination,” writes Chris Colin in his latest story for AFAR. From countless sacred sites to Native Hawaiian traditions, the land and history of its Indigenous population have vanished and been forgotten over time. Colin’s view of Hawaii as a vacation destination unraveled as he toured Oahu in late 2019 with local activist Kyle Kajihiro. Kajihiro told him that even responsible, politically conscious visitors automatically slip into “vacation mode” as soon as they step foot outside of the airport, expecting no less than the idyllic “lei-draped, aloha-dispensing, honeymooner-welcoming” version of Hawaii. As visitors, what more should we be doing — and what does reciprocity in the context of travel look like? What does decolonizing tourism — and decentering the outsider — mean? And ultimately, how can we all support Native Hawaiians in their fight to reclaim their land? Colin’s piece is thought-provoking, pushing me rethink when and how to visit. —Cheri Lucas Rowlands

5. Revolt of the Delivery Workers

Josh Dzieza | New York Magazine | September 13, 2021 | 7,479 words

Convenience has always come at a cost; this we know. Yet for the class of delivery cyclists that has emerged in New York City over the past decade, ferrying Doordash and Seamless orders across bridges and boroughs, those costs grow ever steeper. If it’s not draconian apps like Relay pushing riders to the brink of danger, it’s bike thieves robbing riders of their transportation and livelihood — often inflicting injury in the process — and a police department that hasn’t exactly leapt to help. As Josh Dzieza chronicles in a vividly reported feature published in New York’s Curbed vertical, a patchwork of collective action has arisen from this fraught landscape. Riders band together to navigate attack-plagued routes en masse; they protest outside NYPD precincts and lobby for legislative protections from predatory employers; most jaw-droppingly, they track stolen bikes to their new homes and manage to get them back. “For Cesar [Solano] and many other delivery workers,” Dzieza writes of one organizer, “the thefts broke something loose.” His story doesn’t help put those pieces back together, but reading about these workers and the steps they’re taking ensures that you’ll think about what it really means to have a salad ferried crosstown. (And if you still can’t do without that Sweetgreen, then tip well — in cash, if possible.) —Peter Rubin