Tales of War and Redemption

“The violence I have seen has left me feeling hollowed out, unable to gild all the agony with some beautiful meaning.”

Author: Phil Klay
Published: Dec 4, 2017
Length: 20 minutes (5,228 words)

My Mongolian Spot

An ephemeral birthmark is a rare gift, connecting me to generations spanning the centuries.

Published: Aug 1, 2017
Length: 17 minutes (4,250 words)

Orator-in-Chief

Even in a time of shrinking attention spans and incessant Presidential tweets, the Presidential speech still holds great power over Americans and public discourse. Former DOJ speechwriter James Santel analyzes the newly published collection of President Obama’s speeches, We Are the Change We Seek, to study Obama’s legacy, his vision of America, and see what his oratory reveals now that the current President relies on 140 characters and can’t distinguish between a colon and an em dash.

Published: Apr 28, 2017
Length: 12 minutes (3,223 words)

The FBI, My Husband, and Me

Journalist Shirley Streshinsky recounts how J. Edgar Hoover targeted her husband, photojournalist Ted Streshinsky, in attempts to label him a Soviet spy.

Published: Jul 13, 2016
Length: 25 minutes (6,351 words)

The Radical Pessimism of Dashiell Hammett

The stories of Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler once wrote, “gave murder back to the kind of people that commit it for reasons, not just to provide a corpse.”

Published: Sep 22, 2015
Length: 18 minutes (4,696 words)

The Wandering Years

Thoughts, observations, and reflections from the travel journals of Lawrence Ferlinghetti.

Published: Jul 30, 2015
Length: 18 minutes (4,685 words)

Instant Gratification

How instant gratification is “undermining the essential structures of everyday life.”

Published: Sep 8, 2014
Length: 24 minutes (6,021 words)

What Killed My Sister?

The answer—schizophrenia—only leads to more perplexing questions:

Susanne Long was my sister, three years younger. She was funny and savvy. She was creative and kind and curious. She had a master’s degree, and she taught English as a second language in Washington, D.C., and later in Seattle. She spent two tours of duty in the Peace Corps, one in Liberia, the other in Morocco. She baked, cooked, knitted, quilted, played recorder. She took photographs. She loved to learn languages, and she loved to garden. She trained as a marathon runner. She was happily married, then unhappily married, then divorced. She was a great beauty, with high cheekbones and a Queen Nefertiti nose. She loved to hang out with her friends.

At the age of 32, never before, schizophrenia came to call. She began to hear nasty phrases hissed at her: We’re going to get you, etc. We may call them voices, but to her they were sentences spoken from the mouths of colleagues and passersby.

Published: Apr 1, 2014
Length: 15 minutes (3,923 words)

Longreads Member Exclusive: Letter from Kufra, by Clare Morgana Gillis

This week’s Member Pick is “Letter from Kufra,” a story by Clare Morgana Gillis, first published in the summer 2012 issue of The American Scholar. Gillis, who was featured on Longreads for her report after being captured in Libya, explains.

Published: May 29, 2013
Length: 10 minutes (2,733 words)

Unauthorized, but Not Untrue

The real story of a biographer in a celebrity culture of public denials, media timidity, and legal threats. “Even after all these years I’m still not comfortable with the term unauthorized, because it sounds so nefarious, almost as if it involves breaking and entering. Admittedly, biography by its very nature is an invasion of a life—an intimate examination by the biographer, who burrows deeper and deeper to probe the unknown, reveal the unseen, illuminate the unexpected. Despite my discomfort with the word, I firmly believe that unauthorized biography can be a public service and a boon to history.”

Published: Dec 3, 2010
Length: 20 minutes (5,129 words)