Longform’s Picks of the Week

The best stories from around the world.


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 new app and read all of the latest in-depth stories from dozens of magazines, including Foreign Policy.

The Geeks on the Frontlines, by David Kushner, Rolling Stone

While Uncle Sam is jockeying for the Internet’s best troops, private security firms are offering way more pay and way less hassle.

Charlie Miller, a famous hacker who exposed vulnerabilities in the MacBook Air and iPhone, spent five years with the National Security Agency before joining Twitter’s security team. Earlier this year, the DHS lost four top cybersecurity officials. In April, Peiter “Mudge” Zatko, a renowned member of the pioneering hacker collective Cult of the Dead Cow who was working at the DOD’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, split for Silicon Valley to join his former DARPA boss, Regina Dugan. “Goodbye DARPA,” he tweeted. “Hello Google!”

As a result, there’s a metawar taking place: one between government and industry to score the country’s toughest geeks — like the ones here this weekend — to join their front lines before it’s too late. “We need hackers,” Janet Napolitano, secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, told Rolling Stone in June, “because this is the fastest-growing and fastest-changing area of threat that we’re confronting.”


The Syrian War is Creating a Massive Kidnapping Crisis in Lebanon, by Sulome Anderson, The Atlantic

My father, Terry Anderson, was kidnapped during the Lebanese civil war in the 1980s. Now, history is repeating itself as abductions escalate.

Twenty-one years after my father came home, I’m a freelance feature writer working in Beirut. Lebanon is suffering intense fallout from the war in neighboring Syria, and kidnappings have become a common occurrence again. The Lebanese state is hopelessly deadlocked in a struggle between the country’s opposing sects-the larger Sunni and Shia Muslim populations and the Christian and Druze minorities. Shifting alliances aside, Lebanon appears to be fracturing. Incidents such as rocket attacks, bombings, and assassinations have occurred over the past year, threatening the fragile peace that’s held since the civil war ended in 1990.

Hezbollah is now deeply and militarily invested in helping Syrian president Bashar al-Assad stay in power. While the U.S. seriously debates military intervention in Syria, tit-for-tat sectarian kidnappings related to the Syrian conflict occur almost weekly along the Lebanese border, and ransom kidnappings have also become more frequent. Everything points towards a disastrous repetition of history-perhaps not on the same scale as the previous strife, but certainly the drums of war have begun to beat with increasing volume.


Hiding in N. Virginia, a Daughter of Auschwitz, by Thomas Harding, the Washington Post

Brigitte also has a secret that not even her grandchildren know. Her father was Rudolf Höss, the Kommandant of Auschwitz.

It was Rudolf Höss who designed and built Auschwitz from an old army barracks in Poland to a killing machine capable of murdering 2,000 people an hour. By the end of the war, 1.1 million Jews had been killed in the camp, along with 20,000 gypsies and tens of thousands of Polish and Russian political prisoners. As such, Brigitte’s father was one of the biggest mass murderers in history.

For nearly 40 years she has kept her past out of public view, unexamined, not even sharing her story with her closest family members.


Delhi Rape: How India’s Other Half Lives, by Jason Burke, the Guardian 

The brutal gang-rape highlighted how the nation’s surge to superpower status has left millions behind.

The incident was to prompt a global outcry and weeks of protests in India, and to reveal problems often ignored by those overseas who are perhaps too eager to embrace a heartwarming but simplistic narrative of growing prosperity in the world’s biggest democracy.

If sympathy lay, naturally, with the 23-year-old physiotherapist who was the victim of the attack, fascination focused on her assailants. These were not serial sex criminals, psychopaths or brutalised men from the margins of society. Their backgrounds were, perhaps more worryingly, like those of tens of millions of Indian men.


The Cowboy of the NSA, by Shane Harris, Foreign Policy

Inside Gen. Keith Alexander’s all-out, barely-legal drive to build the ultimate spy machine.

On Aug. 1, 2005, Lt. Gen. Keith Alexander reported for duty as the 16th director of the National Security Agency, the United States’ largest intelligence organization. He seemed perfect for the job. Alexander was a decorated Army intelligence officer and a West Point graduate with master’s degrees in systems technology and physics. He had run intelligence operations in combat and had held successive senior-level positions, most recently as the director of an Army intelligence organization and then as the service’s overall chief of intelligence. He was both a soldier and a spy, and he had the heart of a tech geek. Many of his peers thought Alexander would make a perfect NSA director. But one prominent person thought otherwise: the prior occupant of that office.

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

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