Lists

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


America’s Last Prisoner of War


Michael Hastings, Rolling Stone

The story of Bowe Bergdahl, a soldier who walked off his base in Afghanistan only to be captured by the Taliban.

When the stranger unbolted the cell door and whispered for them to hurry, Rahim assumed that somewhere in the prison a fight must have broken out. It was the middle of the night, and normally the heavy metal door remained locked until the morning call to prayer. For the past five months, Rahim had shared this cell, in Kandahar’s Sarposa Prison, with five other captured insurgents, two of whom he’d fought alongside in the fiercely contested district of Panjwai. Now, from where they lay on old blankets and cushions on the floor, all five gazed uncertainly at the man standing in their doorway. “We are your friends,” the man said. “There is a tunnel over here. Come quickly and get inside it.”

BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images

The Netanyahu Paradox

David Margolick, Vanity Fair

A inside look at the Israeli prime minister.

As of early May, when his coalition suddenly and surprisingly swallowed up the largest opposition party, Kadima, Netanyahu now controls 94 of the 120 seats in the Knesset. An Iranian atom bomb may be some time off, but as Yossi Verter writing in Israel’s liberal daily, Haaretz, put it, an atom bomb has fallen on Israeli politics. Until elections in the fall of 2013, Netanyahu can now do pretty much what he wants. The question is just what that is, and whether even he knows, for he’s proven better at holding power than wielding it.

GALI TIBBON/AFP/Getty Images


Odyssey and the Lost Spanish Treasure


Susan Berfield, Bloomberg Businessweek

The international battle over 17 tons of coins discovered by an American deep-sea treasure hunting company.

Odyssey, which gave the site the code name Black Swan, first claimed there wasn’t enough evidence to prove the coins had been aboard the Mercedes. Then Odyssey argued that even if the shipwreck were the Mercedes, it had not been on a military mission when it sank, and three-quarters of its cargo was commercial. In the fight over the world’s richest shipwreck, no judge ever ruled in Odyssey’s favor. In February, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, who has jurisdiction over Florida, declined Odyssey’s bid to delay the transfer.

The case, which set a small, high-profile, money-losing public company against governments in both Madrid and Washington, featured WikiLeaks revelations about U.S. diplomatic overtures and art stolen by the Nazis. It drew attention to the possibilities of profiting from deep-sea exploration using sophisticated robotic vehicles. And it convinced the co-founder and chief executive officer of Odyssey, Greg Stemm, that if anything, his company’s ambitions were not grand enough.

EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images


The Paris Review, the Cold War and the CIA

Joel Whitney, Salon

Uncovered letters reveal ties between the literary magazine and the CIA’s Congress for Cultural Freedom.

The Paris Review has been hailed by Time magazine as the “biggest ‘little magazine’ in history.” At the celebration of its 200th issue this spring, current editors and board members ran down the roster of literary heavyweights it helped launch since its first issue in 1953. Philip Roth, V. S. Naipaul, T.C. Boyle, Edward P. Jones and Rick Moody published their first stories in the Review; Jack Kerouac, Jim Carroll, Jonathan Franzen and Jeffrey Eugenides all had important early stories in its pages. But as Peter Matthiessen, the magazine’s founder, has told interviewers – most recently at Penn State – the journal also began as part of his CIA cover.

Evan Agostini/Getty Images


Brother Number One


Shadi Hamid, Foreign Policy

    Meet the man who might be Egypt’s president: the Muslim Brotherhood’s second choice, and 9/11-denier, Mohamed Morsi.

    Egypt is on the cusp of its first real experiment in Islamist governance. If the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsi comes out on top in the upcoming presidential runoff election, scheduled for June 16 and 17, the venerable Islamist movement will have won control of both Egypt’s presidency and its parliament, and it will have a very real chance to implement its agenda of market-driven economic recovery, gradual Islamization, and the reassertion of Egypt’s regional role.

    Over the course of Egypt’s troubled transition, the Brotherhood has become increasingly, and uncharacteristically, assertive in its political approach. Renouncing promises not to seek the presidency and entering into an overt confrontation with the ruling military council, the Brotherhood’s bid to “save the revolution” has been interpreted by others as an all-out power grab. Egypt’s liberals, as well as the United States, now worry about the implications of unchecked Brotherhood rule and what that might mean for their interests.

    MOHAMMED ABED/AFP/Getty Images
    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.

    Alessandra N. Ram is a researcher at Foreign Policy.