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. Life With Syria’s Rebels in a ...

625037_120824_FSA1.jpg
625037_120824_FSA1.jpg

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.

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.


Life With Syria’s Rebels in a Cold and Cunning War


C.J. Chivers, The New York Times

On the ground with antigovernment forces in Syria.

He roams the Aleppo region with dozens of armed men in camouflage, plotting attacks with other commanders, evading airstrikes, meeting with smugglers and bombmakers to gather more weapons, and rotating through front-line duties in a gritty street-by-street urban campaign. He prefers to sleep by day, and fight by night.

His fighters are a cross section of a nation at war with itself. They include a real estate agent, several farmers, construction workers and a nurse who owned a short-order restaurant. These men fight side by side with a cadre of army defectors, who say the government they once served must fall.

BULENT KILIC/AFP/Getty Images

Life on Board a British Nuclear Submarine

David Moss, The Guardian

On trying not to be an “oxygen thief.”

The engineers call the nuclear reactor “the big kettle”. It is what enables one of these fast-attack submarines to go on long operations, with no need to come into port for refuelling. Having it on board is a huge responsibility, as HMS Triumph’s marine engineering officer, Lieutenant Commander Andy Sharp, makes clear. “It’s never going to explode,” he says when I ask him what’s the worst thing that could happen, “but it could melt. If a nuclear submarine had an accident that caused it to have a slump and melt and drop out the bottom of the boat, I don’t think we’d have a nuclear fleet any more. That would be the end of nuclear submarines. It’s that level of responsibility.” That pressure is enormous, but it works: to its credit, the navy has managed, over half a century, to run a fleet of submarines without a major incident.

JEFF J. MITCHELL/AFP/Getty Images


The Deadly Tin Inside Your Smartphone

Cam Simpson, Businessweek

The impact of tin mining on ordinary Indonesians.

Tin is often associated with soup and questionable meats, but tin cans were replaced long ago by containers made from far cheaper steel, lined with plastic or extremely thin coatings of tin, which does not corrode. Tin’s real use is for solder. Electronics manufacturers use solder, which today typically contains more than 95 percent tin, to attach and connect components. The solder points are tiny but omnipresent, numbering about 7,000 in just two of the components in an iPad, according to research company IHS’s iSuppli. A large flat-screen television can contain as much as 4.8 grams of solder, according to German solder maker Henkel. The iPad or a competing tablet can hold at least 20 percent of that amount, with its tin content weighing in at anywhere from 1 to 3 grams, according to Henkel and ITRI, a U.K.-based industry trade group. That means the construction of as few as five iPads, which weigh about 1.4 pounds each, consumes as much tin solder as the average car, which weighs about 4,000 pounds.

OLI SCARFF/Getty Images


Killing for God


Julia Scheeres, TruTV

The Mormon Manson’s deadly legacy.

When God told Ervil to kill, he did that too. His followers slashed a bloody trail across Mexico and the American Southwest that left 25 to 30 people dead. Among the victims were Ervil’s wives, his brother, former members of his church, leaders of rival polygamous clans, and his 17-year-old pregnant daughter Becky.

Even after Ervil LeBaron died in a jail cell in 1981, the violence didn’t stop. He left behind a long hit list, and his children picked up his bloody mantle, hunting down their father’s enemies far and wide and eliminating them.

To this day, former members of the LeBaron cult whose names are on that list are still in hiding.

Wikimedia Commons


Pommel Horses and Protestors

Gaar Adams, The Classical

On Yemen’s struggling gymnastics program and its lone Olympian:

Inside a stuffy, ramshackle warehouse on the northern outskirts of Yemen’s capital, a dozen male gymnasts line up at the end of a tattered vaulting runway. Wedged into a tight corner on the opposite side of the warehouse, the bright red steel of a high-tech Gymnova vaulting table donated by the Japanese Embassy in Sana’a to the barebones Yemen Gymnastics Federation stands in stark contrast to the corrugated metal and cracking cement of the building surrounding it.

As the first gymnast sprints down the fraying stretch of carpet toward the vault, his gruff coach shouts encouragement in Arabic: “Jump big, like you dream!” Hurdling himself onto the vault, the gymnast’s height on his takeoff is impressive. Later on, as he tends to the blisters on his hands from the dozens of conditioning drills he executes each practice, he admits with a shy smile to the big dream that motivates this dynamic explosion off the vaulting table – to one day compete in an international meet.

BILL PUGLIANO/Getty Images

Twitter: @EliasGroll

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