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.
“ A Stage Set for Slaughter” by Saba Imtiaz, Roads and Kingdoms
Visiting a cattle market in Karachi, right before the feast of Eid.
In many ways, the soul of Karachi is written out in the city’s version of Eid-al-Adha, when the streets run with blood as thousands of animals are felled in the name of sacrifice. Eid in Karachi is the country’s greatest—or at least its most ostentatious—Abrahamic slaughter ritual. Some countries limit the slaughter to the confines of abattoirs. But not in Pakistan and especially not in Karachi, where Eid takes on an almost theatrical quality. It’s a time where legends are born and criminals thrive. Those who can afford the prize bulls become neighborhood icons, the subject of gossip and awe, and targets for nefarious characters looking to steal the animal’s valuable hides. There’s the story of a runaway cow that jumped a wall and landed on a man and crushed him to death. There’s the family that every year rents a crane to lower a bull from their rooftop to the ground, with TV crews recording the animal’s slow descent.
“ What Do We Really Know About Osama bin Ladin’s Death?” by Joseph Mahler, The New York Times Magazine
The history of Obama’s most important foreign-policy victory is still being written.
This irresistible story would be told in many different forms in the months and years that followed. Bowden’s was one of several books, but there were also countless newspaper articles, magazine features, television news programs and ultimately the 2012 movie ‘‘Zero Dark Thirty,’’ which billed itself as the narrative of ‘‘the Greatest Manhunt in History.’’ In this sense, the killing of bin Laden was not only a victory for the U.S. military but also for the American storytelling machine, which kicked into high gear pretty much the moment the terrorist leader’s dead body hit the floor.
“ ‘Hello Father, The Boat is Sinking, So I Will Die’” by Eric Reidy, Medium
Life jackets that kill. Ships that are never meant to make it. Could the Ghost Boat have really reached European shores?
“When we knew that the boat was definitely going to sink, me and my three friends from Syria jumped into the sea. We didn’t have any life jackets, just two children’s rubber rings between four of us. We gave them to the two youngest who were only 15 and 17 because they couldn’t really swim,” he told the International Rescue Committee after landing. “Three Iraqis wouldn’t come. They said ‘we can’t swim.’ One of those who stayed used Viber to phone his Dad from the boat. He said ‘Hello Father, the boat is sinking so I will die.’ It was his last message.”
The death and life of the great British pub” by Tom Lamont, The Guardian“
Pubs are closing all over London. One Camden establishment, the Golden Lion, decided to fight it.
The massive number of pubs in Britain, something between 50,000 and 60,000, is credited by some to the Black Death. Plague-struck, the 14th-century Britons who had not been annihilated were left in an emptier land, earning higher wages, perhaps better inclined to enjoy themselves. They spent more time and money than ever before in purpose-built taverns or private residences that would sell them drink. Some 700 years later, the pubs themselves have contracted a form of plague. Call it the Black Development.
“ Inside The MSF Hospital in Kunduz” by Andrew Quilty, Foreign Policy
An exclusive first look at the horrific aftermath of the U.S. attack in northern Afghanistan.
The quiet was unnerving. Gun battles between the Afghan National Army (ANA) and a small number of Taliban — that had held out since the government counteroffensive was launched 10 days earlier — a few hundred feet away, toward the periphery of Kunduz from the hospital, had gathered momentum through the morning and peaked early in the afternoon. Embedded with the ANA’s 2nd Brigade, I watched on consecutive days as Taliban fighters — invisible but for the pop of their firing rifles — were painstakingly corralled by the soldiers, from mazes of mud-brick homes and light industrial buildings on Kunduz’s outskirts, into the city where, if all went according to plan, other ANA units would encircle them from the north. But by 2 p.m. on Oct. 10, apart from sporadic bursts, the sounds of war had become more distant. By 3 p.m., there was at least a semblance of respite across the south of the city, with only the occasional report of a Kalashnikov. The lull provided a window of opportunity in which to enter the city and access the hospital. A local driver agreed to take me to the site and confirmed the 10-minute drive would now be safe.
Photo credits: Mario Tama/Getty Images; ASIF HASSAN/AFP/Getty Images; Mark Wilson/Getty Images; ACHILLEAS ZAVALLIS/AFP/Getty Images; Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images; Andrew Quilty/Foreign Policy