Feature

Longform’s Picks of the Week

Longform’s Picks of the Week

Every weekend, Longform highlights its favorite international articles of the week. For daily picks of new and classic nonfiction, check out Longform or follow @longform on Twitter. Have an iPad? Download Longform’s brand-new app and read all of the latest in-depth stories from dozens of magazines, including Foreign Policy.

Uncatchable, by Michael Finkel. GQ.

George Wright spent more time on the lam, 41 years, than any fugitive in American history. Last fall, after being caught in a rural Portuguese village, he told his story:

“The Wrights returned to Portugal in 1993, to the white house in the seaside village, chiefly for their children’s education. Wright painted houses. He ran a restaurant he called Chicken in the ‘Hood. He made jewelry boxes and sold them in a stall near the beach. He marketed women’s cosmetics.

He became involved in a local congregation — Grace Church — and was baptized in the Atlantic Ocean. Many of his neighbors thought he was an immigrant from Africa. He spent a great deal of time volunteering for a Portuguese charity called Serve the City. He refurbished an outreach center for HIV-positive kids; he cleaned graffiti in Lisbon and planted public flower beds. He helped organize dinners for homeless people: ‘We had tablecloths, candlelight. We wanted to give them dignity. We’d serve them. Volunteers would sing and play instruments.’

Years rolled by. His kids grew up. Wright became a senior citizen. The fact that he was a fugitive was never fully forgotten — he described it as ‘living with a shadow’ — but the passage of time lent his thoughts a different hue. ‘It’s not a comforting feeling, knowing you’ve been involved in something where a ma’s life has been taken. You cannot imagine how many times I’ve thought about that day. Every day I regret I did that.'”

Vancouver’s Supervised Drug Injection Center: How Does It Work? by Paul Hiebart. The Awl.

An interview on the logistics of running North America’s only legal facility for drug addicts to push heroin and cocaine and other types of substances into their veins:

“Well, first, we’re trying to reduce harm any way we can without requiring abstinence. We’re not trying to push things on people. I mean, we want people to be abstinent, but that’s not our expectation. Our push is to promote safety and harm reduction.

The approach we take is to promote self-respect. We’re trying to get people to respect themselves regardless of their addictions or whatever’s going on. It’s pretty much unconditional. We’re not going to meet these people with a bunch of shame. We’re not going to lump our expectations and our hopes onto them. Usually they feel shitty enough themselves. They already know that they fucked up. They’re already their own worst enemy.

We’re in this beautiful position where we’re not family and we’re not friends. We have the capacity to accept them again, easily and openly.”

The Spy Who Came in From the Code, by  Matthieu Aikin. Columbia Journalism Review.

How a British journalist accidentally revealed his dissident sources to Syrian authorities:

“For correspondents who report from conflict zones or on underground activism in repressive regimes, the risks are extremely high. Recently, two excellent investigative series — by the Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg News — and the release of a large trove of surveillance industry documents by Wikileaks dubbed “The Spy files,” provided a glimpse of just how sophisticated off-the-shelf monitoring technologies have become. Western companies have sold mass Web and e-mail surveillance technology to Libya and Syria, for instance, and in Egypt, activists found specialized software that allowed the government to listen in to Skype conversations. In Bahrain, meanwhile, technology sold by Nokia Siemens allowed the government to monitor cell-phone conversations and text messages.”

Why Afghan Women Risk Death to Write Poetry, by Eliza Griswold. The New York Times.

Even knowing how to write can mean death for Afghan women. So why do they risk it all for their verses?

“In a private house in a quiet university neighborhood of Kabul, Ogai Amail waited for the phone to ring. Through a plate-glass window, she watched the sinking sun turn the courtyard the color of eggplant. The electricity wasn’t working and the room was unheated, a few floor cushions the only furnishings. Amail tucked her bare feet underneath her and pulled up the collar of her puffy black coat. Her dark hair was tied in a ponytail, and her eyelids were coated in metallic blue powder. In the green glare of the mobile phone’s screen, her face looked wan and worried. When the phone finally bleeped, Amail shrieked with joy and put on the speakerphone. A teenage girl’s voice tumbled into the room. “I’m freezing,” the girl said. Her voice was husky with cold. To make this call, she’d sneaked out of her father’s mud house without her coat.

Like many of the rural members of Mirman Baheer, a women’s literary society based in Kabul, the girl calls whenever she can, typically in secret. She reads her poems aloud to Amail, who transcribes them line by line. To conceal her poetry writing from her family, the girl relies on a pen name, Meena Muska. (Meena means ‘love’ in the Pashto language; muska means ‘smile.’)”

A Giant Among Giants, by Ken Silverstein. Foreign Policy.

As it approaches a public offering, how Glencore — founded by the legendary fugitive March Rich — cornered the market for just about everything by working with dictators and spies:

“What the IPO filing did not make clear was just how Glencore, founded four decades ago by Marc Rich, a defiant friend of dictators and spies who later became one of the world’s richest fugitives, achieved this kind of global dominance. The answer — pieced together for this article over a year of reporting that included numerous interviews with past and current Glencore employees and a review of leaked corporate records, dossiers prepared by private investigative firms, court documents, and various international investigations — is at once simpler and far more complicated than it appears. Like all traders, Glencore makes its money at the margins, but Glencore, even more so than its competitors, profits by working in the globe’s most marginal business regions and often, investigators have found, at the margins of what is legal.”

Have a favorite piece that we missed? Leave the link in the comments or tweet it to @longform. For more great writing, check out Longform’s complete archive.