Search Results for: Washington Post

Inside Felicia Sonmez’s War Against ‘The Washington Post’

Longreads Pick
Author: Clio Chang
Published: Nov 15, 2021
Length: 19 minutes (4,800 words)

The Vaccine Tore Her Family Apart. Could a Death Bring Them Back Together?

Longreads Pick

“Laurel Haught moved out of her own home to escape her unvaccinated daughter. Now they are facing a funeral, the coming holidays and the divide splitting many American families.”

Published: Nov 15, 2021
Length: 14 minutes (3,700 words)

Two Kids, a Loaded Gun and the Man Who Left a 4-Year-Old to Die

Longreads Pick

The children will never recover from what happened inside a D.C. apartment. The owner of the illegal gun faces far less serious consequences.

Published: Sep 27, 2021
Length: 22 minutes (5,539 words)

The Death Spiral of an American Family

Longreads Pick

In this heartbreaking portrait of one American family, Eli Saslow offers a look at “backwards mobility” and the country’s collapsing middle class.

It had been almost a month since Dave, 39, found his father lying unresponsive in bed next to his cellphone and a bill from a collections agency, having died of a heart attack at age 70, and ever since then Dave had been trying to make sense of what his father had left behind. He’d read through his father’s credit card statements and then talked to a banker, who concluded that the final estate of David Ramsey Sr. was of “inconsequential value.”

Author: Eli Saslow
Published: Mar 20, 2022
Length: 16 minutes (4,025 words)

The Endless Robbing of Native American Graves

Longreads Pick

“We have taken Native lands and tried to eradicate Indigenous societies, yet it’s not only what we’ve done to the living that is so deplorable. It’s what we’ve done, and continue to do, to the dead.”

Published: Jul 12, 2021
Length: 24 minutes (6,114 words)

‘My Sincere Condolences’

Longreads Pick
Published: Dec 21, 2021
Length: 16 minutes (4,083 words)

The Lessons of Uzbekistan’s Lost Sea

Longreads Pick

In this piece for The Washington Post Magazine, Henry Wismayer takes a tour of what was formerly the Aral Sea, and once the world’s fourth largest inland body of water. “It began, like so many tragedies, with hubris,” writes Wismayer, describing how, in the 1920s, inefficient irrigation projects diverted the region’s rivers to land for cotton. By the 1960s, the Aral’s shoreline had rapidly receded, the fishing industry died overnight, and over time, the evaporation of water not only affected the region’s climate but made the air extremely toxic. Today, the sea’s disappearance is possibly the “worst man-made ecological catastrophe in history” and a “cautionary parable.”

What drives a person to visit such an apocalyptic site? Is this disaster tourism? As Wismayer explores this sea-turned-desert, he thoughtfully ponders these questions.

But the more time I spent in this accursed landscape, the more certain I became that there were other, deeper emotions at play, too. Modern places of abandonment or catastrophe, it occurred to me that evening, were affecting primarily for their immediacy. The ambient entropy, which manifested here in the chaotic climate, the shriveling lake, the junk of human settlements laid waste, felt like the ultimate rebuke to our myopia.

That the Aral Sea represents an advanced stage on a continuum along which the whole planet is hurtling — hotter, water-deprived, despoiled — merely drove the point home. It left you with the sense that, for all our genius, we enjoy a habitable planet by the grace of such fragile providence. Actions, consequences. What more evidence do we need?


Published: Aug 29, 2022
Length: 16 minutes (4,173 words)

The Top 5 Longreads of the Week

Young Kid Learning To Ride a Bike without Support Stabilizer Wheels Left Behind
Young Kid Learning To Ride a Bike without Support Stabilizer Wheels Left Behind

Here are five stories that moved us this week, and the reasons why.

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1. A Texas Teen Wanted an Abortion. Now She Has Twins.

Caroline Kitchener | The Washington Post | June 20th, 2022 | 4,100 words

If I were a journalism teacher, I would assign this story to my class immediately. Not only because it is wrenching — and my god, it is — but also because it demonstrates the value of beat reporting, editorial foresight, and covering the ripple effects of major news stories. Caroline Kitchener writes about abortion for one of the biggest newspapers in the country. The so-called “heartbeat bill” in Texas went into effect nine months ago, which means the first women in the state who couldn’t get abortions because of the law are now having babies. Therein lies the seed of a story idea, in the form of a question: What happened to those women? Kitchener found one of them, a teenager who gave birth to twins several weeks ago, and crafted an intimate narrative that simmers with pathos yet lets the facts speak for themselves. I won’t soon forget the scene in which antiabortion activists hold up the subject of Kitchener’s piece as a political victory — even lighting a candle in her honor — without any knowledge of what their shameful advocacy has meant for her well-being, her sense of self, or her future. This is complex, award-worthy storytelling. —SD

2. How Three Sisters (and their Mom) Tried to Swindle the CRA out of Millions

Sarah Treleaven | Maclean’s | June 21st, 2022 | 4,359 words

Who doesn’t love a Canadian grift story? When Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) employee Carol Power was asked to audit the Saker sisters from Nova Scotia — deemed to “be the model of rural ingenuity” for their diverse portfolio of interests — she had no idea that she had stumbled on to a complicated web of serious tax fraud going back years. When the CRA prodded, the sisters doubled down on the fraud, inventing false paperwork to cover their crimes. When taken to court, they proclaimed themselves victims of a vast CRA conspiracy against them. “The CRA investigators were looking for books, records, documentation, and electronic hardware and storage devices. They subsequently spent nearly three years combing through the Saker family bank records, sales receipts and invoices and searching for T4 slips, trying to track the Sakers’ behaviour and establish their patterns. Boudreau learned that many of the businesses had been operating largely without bank accounts, and most appeared to have no employees, supplier contracts or even production expenses. When CRA investigators asked the Sakers to provide supporting documentation to prove they were entitled to the refund amounts they claimed, the Sakers produced a huge volume of vendor invoices and sales receipts…One of the many vendors listed by the Sakers was Vandalee Industries, a name nearly identical to that of George Costanza’s fake employer on Seinfeld. It was almost like the Sakers were having a good time.” —KS

3. Safety Town

Ilana Bean | Guernica | June 20th, 2022 | 3,839 words

My most vivid childhood memories are the ones where I’m on my bike, at 4 years old, just after I learned how to ride. Our family’s home has an unusually long driveway: We can fit over a dozen parked cars during parties. There was so much space: to play, to ride, to create my own little whimsical world. I thought of this formative time as I read Ilana Bean’s piece on traffic gardens, those small-scale street systems through which kids can learn about road safety. In the imaginary world I built in front of our house, cracks in the concrete became turns. Carefully laid sticks became dividers. Rocks I collected from the neighborhood became coins for the toll bridge. But this curiosity in the built physical space I moved in quickly faded, and cars — driven by adults — would take me wherever I needed to go. Bean’s mother, Fionnuala Quinn, is a traffic safety expert, focused on building more intuitive relationships between children and our streets; car culture in the U.S. means that many of us “don’t actively interact with transportation until we reach the magic age of sixteen,” and at that point, we’re then expected to master the art of driving after a minimal amount of training. This is a thoughtful read on road safety and design — which I admit I’ve spent very little time thinking about in my life, despite the amount of power and responsibility I have each time I get behind the wheel. Even more, it’s a lovely, unexpected essay on the dedication of a mother, and the potential for a world in which children are raised with the skills to navigate their environments independently and safely and people are empowered to ask for and help build better streets. —CLR

4. How OXO Conquered the American Kitchen

Dan Kois | Slate | June 20th, 2022 | 3,066 words

When the second season of the brilliant sketch series I Think You Should Leave dropped last year, one of its oddest moments was the trailer for Detective Crashmore, a hardboiled action movie starring Santa Claus as the titular cop. There’s much more I’d like to say about it, but for our purposes today the thing that matters is a single line Crashmore utters: “Everything has sucked lately.” You know why? Because he’s right! We’re all mad and sad and worried. And when we’re all mad and sad and worried, that’s exactly when you need to read something like Dan Kois’ cheerful dive into the inner workings of OXO. You probably have a salad spinner or garlic press or measuring cup from the obsessively utilitarian housewares company; maybe you’ve marveled at it, maybe you haven’t. But in a time when the clearest articulation of our global mood comes from an irascible Santa-Claus-portrayed maniac, it’s worth taking a few minutes to concentrate on something small and good. Even when that something small and good is a vegetable peeler. —PR

5. A Marriage Story

Alan Siegel | The Ringer | June 14th, 2022 | 2,330 words

“It is, without a doubt, one of the most moving film sequences of the past 20 years.” I saw Up a long time ago, in a part of my life I’d like to forget. I don’t remember much about that time in my life (thankfully!) or much about the movie itself, other than what it reduced me to: a sobbing heap on the couch. I don’t think the term “ugly cry” had been invented yet, but that’s an accurate description of my response. How could two animated film characters conjure such a powerful emotional response in a hapless viewer in a mere 10 minutes? At The Ringer, Up director Pete Docter and codirector Bob Peterson reflect on the care and craft that went into making Carl and Ellie, as well as the specifics of imprinting them and their shared history on the hearts of an unsuspecting audience in that seminal first part of the film. —KS

The Top 5 Longreads of the Week

Men waiting in line at Porta-potty
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Here are five stories that moved us this week, and the reasons why.

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1. No Escape From Guantánamo*

Abigail Hauslohner | The Washington Post | January 7, 2022 | 3,700 Words

The United States began detaining men at Guantánamo Bay 20 years ago this week. Nearly 800 prisoners have spent time in the facility’s cells; today 39 men still remain behind bars there, 27 of whom have never been charged with a crime. This haunting, must-read story is about men who’ve been released and resettled in third countries — a Tunisian in Slovakia, for instance, and a Yemeni in Serbia. Abigail Hauslohner describes them as “the discarded men of one of America’s darkest chapters.” After enduring torture and other horrors at Guantánamo, they’ve been forced to live hundreds or thousands of miles from any family or friends. They face persecution and poverty, as well as the lingering effects of trauma. If they can rely on anything, it’s each other. “They trade advice, news and jokes in text-message chains,” Hauslohner writes. “And when things get bad, they call each other.” —SD

* Subscription required. (Note: the vast majority of the pieces we recommend are free to read online. Occasionally, we will share a story that requires a subscription when we strongly believe that piece is worth your time.)

2. The Gentrification of Consciousness

Roberto Lovato | Alta | January 4, 2022 | 5,279 words

For Alta, Roberto Lovato reports on the coming psychedelic therapy wave, led by Silicon Valley companies and investors who view psychoactive substances like mushrooms as the next disruptive technology. Treatment, however, is pricey: one session of guided ketamine therapy can cost as much as $2000. An analysis Lovato cites found that Black, Latinx, and Asian people have also been severely underrepresented in psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy studies over the past 25 years. So who exactly will have access to these powerful medicines and experiences? Who will lead psychedelic policy reform? And how will this “psychedelic renaissance” play out in a place like San Francisco’s Mission District, which was once a center for psychedelic culture, and a majority Latino and non-white neighborhood before the techies drove them out? Lovato, who grew up in the Mission, weaves some of the neighborhood’s history with that of his own, and explains that people in this community, like the elders who came before them, have been exploring altered states of consciousness through sacred, mind-altering medicinas in underground and community-based spaces for a long time. This is a powerful, moving, yet sobering read on the tech-fueled psychedelic-industrial complex, spiritual extractivism (the mining of Indigenous tradition, ritual, and wisdom for profit), and the psychedelic underground. —CLR

3. On Mistaking Whales

Bathsheba Demuth | Granta | November 18th, 2021 | 4,746

“In the time and place where I was born, we were taught that the right way to consume a whale is with your eyes,” writes environmental historian Bathsheba Demuth. As she looks at the history of whaling in Russia, she considers the many ways in which whales have served humans in providing food, employment, and even housing. “I approach one house by crawling on my belly to peer down. In the dimness, the pale heavy brow of a whale’s skull holds back the earth. A bone wall. The people who lived here lived in the heads of whales.” Later, in speaking about her work to American audiences, she encounters rigid opposition to eating whales, from those who feel themselves superior partly because they hunt for food only at the grocery store. Demuth’s essay eloquently reminds us that reality is far more complicated than black and white; all of us inflict damage on the earth and on wildlife, in our own ways. “Here whales have been homes. A practical space, shelter and host to meals and births and deaths. Host to the least abstract kinds of love. Familial, romantic, parental. Here whales have made those intimacies, by giving people the capacity to live.” —KS

4. How the Speed of Climate Change is Unbalancing the Insect World

Oliver Milman | The Guardian | January 11, 2022 | 3,092 words

On New Year’s Day, I went for a walk in a local park and was struck by how much I was sweating in my huge coat. My lack of fitness was not the only culprit; it felt like a warm spring day in the middle of winter, an illusion rendered complete by a confused bumblebee buzzing past me. Oliver Milman provides an explanation for the unexpected bee in quoting Simon Potts, a bee expert: “There’s good evidence here in the UK that under climate change things are warming up early, so we’re got all these bees coming out early but not the flowers…” Bees are not the only insects suffering; early springs are unsettling the established life cycle of many insects. Even when rising temperatures benefit an insect population, it is not positive. In 2020, East Africa suffered its worst plague of locusts in decades. This fascinating and concerning essay reminds us that the disruption of these tiny insects is a crucial part of a very big problem. —CW

5. The Secret MVP of Sports? The Port-a-Potty

Ryan Hockensmith | ESPN | January 5, 2022 | 4,311 words

There’s nothing quite like it. You’re out an outdoor event when nature calls; looking around, your heart sinks when see that your only option is a flimsy plastic shed, behind the door of which untold horrors lurk. Odd as it is, though, you might fear that prospect a bit less after reading Hockensmith’s breezy tour through the history and importance of port-o-potties (and, crucially, the professional maintenance thereof). Whether following a crew of Buffalo sanitation workers undertaking a frenzied early-game half-suck in the parking lots around the Bills’ stadium or speaking with academics about the future of equitable sanitation, the piece never strays from its founding charm. By the time you’re finished, you may not be ready to leave indoor plumbing behind, but you’ll have a newfound equanimity the next time you do have to hazard a trip to the Box of Uncertainty. (Not always, though; as Hockensmith knowingly writes, Sometimes the cost of having to hold it isn’t as bad as the price of getting to go.) And no matter how much pre-gaming you’ve done, I promise you this: you’ll never try to run across the roof of one. —PR

The Coming Age of Climate Trauma

Longreads Pick

“What should a mental health response look like in the wake of a climate disaster? How can we better prepare communities for the moment when they are forced to confront climate change?”

Published: Oct 27, 2021
Length: 23 minutes (5,841 words)