Finding My Father Among the Astronauts

“It took more than a decade for me to realize that I never really wanted to become a pilot so much as I wanted to become like my dad, to achieve what others deemed impossible.”

Source: GQ
Published: Apr 28, 2021
Length: 14 minutes (3,560 words)

Terrorist or Freedom Fighter?

Adventure turns to tragedy when a troubled army vet joins the fight against Assad in Syria.

Source: The New Yorker
Published: Feb 16, 2015
Length: 37 minutes (9,470 words)

In the Crosshairs

The story of Chris Kyle, a decorated sniper who wrote a best-selling memoir about his life as a SEAL. Kyle’s attempt to help a troubled veteran ended in tragedy:

“After Routh arrived at the Dallas V.A., Jodi and Jen visited him in the evenings. A week later, he did not seem much better. He was taking several medications, and Jodi felt that he could hardly carry on a conversation. She urged the doctors to keep him hospitalized, at least until he was stable.

“Ignoring Jodi’s request, the V.A. discharged Routh the next day; according to Jodi, the doctors shared this news over the phone, saying that Routh was an adult and wanted to leave. When she drove to the V.A. to pick up her son, he was already out, sitting in the lobby. She brought him home and told him about Chris Kyle, whom she had just met. ‘I said, ‘This guy has a big reputation. He’s a really good man and he really wants to help you.’ And then he’s like, “Mom, that is so awesome,” ‘ Jodi recalled. ‘Eddie was happy. He could feel that somebody wanted to help him, somebody that understood better than me.'”

Source: The New Yorker
Published: May 27, 2013
Length: 52 minutes (13,235 words)

Disarming Viktor Bout

The story of “the world’s most notorious weapons trafficker”:

“The longer we sat in the small, musty room, the more the tempered side of Bout’s personality receded. I asked whether he felt any remorse. ‘I did nothing in my mind that qualifies as a crime,’ he replied. ‘Sure, I was doing transportation of arms,’ he said. ‘But it was occasionally. Three hundred and sixty days were normal shipments. For five days, I shipped arms and made a couple of hundred thousand dollars.’ (Mirchev, by contrast, recalls a period of ‘almost daily flights’ for UNITA.)”

Source: The New Yorker
Published: Mar 5, 2012
Length: 38 minutes (9,738 words)

Three Trials for Murder

Tim Hennis was an Army sergeant serving at Fort Bragg in 1985 when he was charged with the murder of a woman and her two young daughters. His case has gone to trial three separate times, and the military’s intervention has raised questions about what constitutes double jeopardy:

“That Saturday, Hennis’s neighbors recalled, he had poured lighter fluid into a fifty-five-gallon barrel and stoked a bonfire for at least five hours. Had he burned evidence? Hennis did go voluntarily to the police station, but Bittle told me that this was a tactic regularly employed by a certain class of criminal. ‘Why do people rob banks? They think that others didn’t know how to do it right. That was Tim Hennis’s attitude: “You can’t get me. I am smarter than you are.” ‘”

Source: The New Yorker
Published: Nov 14, 2011
Length: 35 minutes (8,792 words)

On the Trail of an Intercontinental Killer

In 1990, a trash bag with human remains was found in the Vinegar Hill neighborhood of Brooklyn. The investigation soon expanded to killings in Albania and Belgium, and focused on the activity of a Yugoslavian former cab driver named Smajo Dzurlic:

“Smajo Dzurlic, who is now 71, shuffled into the room, his wrists and ankles unbound. He wore a brown argyle V-neck sweater, and his head barely came up to the guard’s chest. ‘Do I look dangerous to you?’ he asked, as we sat beside each other at the end of a long, rectangular table. ‘They figured I was some big man, like Son of Sam or something,’ Dzurlic said in rusty English. ‘But they gave me time for no reason. I’m not a murderer. Not a murderer whatsoever.'”

Published: Jan 5, 2012
Length: 17 minutes (4,483 words)

Getting Bin Laden: What Happened That Night in Abbottabad

A second SEAL stepped into the room and trained the infrared laser of his M4 on bin Laden’s chest. The Al Qaeda chief, who was wearing a tan shalwar kameez and a prayer cap on his head, froze; he was unarmed. “There was never any question of detaining or capturing him—it wasn’t a split-second decision. No one wanted detainees,” the special-operations officer told me. (The Administration maintains that had bin Laden immediately surrendered he could have been taken alive.) Nine years, seven months, and twenty days after September 11th, an American was a trigger pull from ending bin Laden’s life. #Sept11

Source: The New Yorker
Published: Aug 8, 2011
Length: 33 minutes (8,422 words)