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.
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.
Jon Henley • The Guardian
One family’s story of surviving Tasmania’s catastrophic bushfires.
Back at Potter’s Croft, Tim decided quite quickly there was no point hanging around trying to defend the house. He had 10,000 gallons of water and a petrol-driven pump; enough for a fit person to fight any ordinary fire. But then he saw the towering column of fire racing across the front paddock.
For a few minutes, he sheltered in the back porch with local fire chief Brad Wescott and his crew, who’d just shown up. Brad and his men fled inside, but Tim decided to run to his family. As soon as he left, he felt the fire, not only from behind him to the north, but also from the side, from the west. That, he says, he had not anticipated.
Visibility with virtually zero. Tim was struggling to see the fingertips of his outstretched arm — at 3.30pm on a once-bright, sunny afternoon.
Dennis Rodman: From Basketball Bad Boy to Dubious Diplomat
Terrence McCoy • New Times Broward-Palm Beach
A profile of Dennis Rodman today.
Dennis Keith Rodman, grinning and crumpled in a cramped lawn chair, flicks a half-smoked Romeo y Julieta cigar and declares that if it were possible, he’d fuck the world. He’s drunk on Estonian vodka and plans to get drunker. He laughs maniacally, and his thoughts are scattershot: In a matter of minutes, conversation hops from Indonesia to blowjobs in Milwaukee to the merits of a home improvement shop on Oakland Park Boulevard – possibly Lowe’s; Rodman isn’t specific. It’s a Thursday afternoon, and the immediate environment, a lushly decayed backyard off Biscayne Boulevard in Miami, has begun to spin something fierce. He grips the sides of the lawn chair.
JULIEN WARNAND/AFP/Getty Images
In the Crosshairs
Nicholas Schmidle • The New Yorker
On decorated sniper Chris Kyle and the troubled young veteran who took his life.
Special-operations forces undergo particularly thorough training. Among other things, they take the most intense version of a course that mimics the experience of being a prisoner of war: Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape, or SERE. Within the military, a widespread sentiment exists that such rigor makes special operators unusually resilient to P.T.S.D. Shay subscribes to this view, in part. But, he observed, “Snipers have the curse that they see the work their round does.” The telescopic lens atop a sniper’s rifle lends a dreadful intimacy to the act of killing. Whereas an infantryman might see his enemy fall after pulling the trigger, a sniper often watches, with tremendous magnification and clarity, as his bullet penetrates an enemy’s skull. Shay said, “When you can see what you are killing, and know who you are killing, the emotional weight of that experience is likely to be way larger than when it is killing either from an airplane at thirty thousand feet or if you have only a general sense of where the enemy is.”
EPA/LARRY W. SMITH
How A War Hero Became A Serial Bank Robber
Scott Johnson • BuzzFeed
An Iraq War veteran assuages his PTSD with bank heists.
In Iraq, a tension would build up before and during each of those missions Walker went on. Most often, these operations would result in violence, always starting with a sudden burst – a roadside bomb, a shot fired, an ambush – the spark that lit the engagement with the enemy. And once that initial symbolic “bang” occurred, tension melted away and was replaced by a rush of calm acceptance, a sort of peace that flooded into every vein of his body. And in that moment, the fear of death and of pain, the rush of nostalgia, and the longing for one’s family and friends seemed to wash away as tranquility took over and pure action kicked in. It was incredibly high-stress, but he was accustomed to it, thrived on it, felt comfortable, competent.
I asked him what the equivalent moment was, during a robbery, of the “bang” that occurred in a war. He didn’t hesitate: “Passing the note,” he said. “During a robbery, passing the note is the ‘bang.’ Then the die is cast. After that initial contact, there’s peace, and you could die then and it doesn’t even matter.”
Chris Hondros/Getty Images
James Mann• Foreign Policy
The knives are out for Tom Donilon. Can the national security advisor outlast his enemies?
For the past few weeks, Barack Obama’s foreign-policy team has been grappling with world issues ranging from the urgent to the mundane, be it Syria’s virulent civil war, North Korea’s provocative threats, the historic visit to Washington by the president of Burma, or plans for a summit with China.
But throughout this period, the senior-most officials of the administration have also been working on another concerted but hidden campaign: to defend National Security Advisor Thomas Donilon against growing criticism from inside the administration and by those who served in the first term, and are now speaking out or quietly settling scores.
Pete Souza/The White House via Getty Images
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