35 absorbing long-reads

As we settle into lockdown, it’s nice to have a little distraction from the monotony of long work days and limited leisure opportunities. Here are some long-form journalism articles to get lost in this weekend…

The Watcher

Reeves Wiedeman for The Cut

A New Jersey family bought their ideal home. But according to the creepy letters they started to get, they weren’t the only ones interested in it.

Heart of Sharkness

Bucky McMahon for GQ

Ten shark attacks on surfers in the past two years, three of them fatal. Now the surfers are biting back. Bucky McMahon paddles straight into the insanely unsafe waters of Reunion island and reports on a raging turf war between man and beast.

The Most Exclusive Restaurant in America

Nick Paumgarten for The New Yorker

Damon Baehrel’s methods are a marvel, and his tables are all booked until 2025. Or are they?

The Rise and Fall of Silk Road

Joshuah Bearman for Wired

How a 29-year-old idealist built a global drug bazaar and became a murderous kingpin.

The Longest Night

Sean Flynn for GQ

One Easter Sunday, the Alaska Ranger—a fishing boat out of Dutch Harbor—went down in the Bering Sea, 6,000 feet deep and thirty-two degrees cold. Forty-seven people were on board, and nearly half of them would spend hours floating alone in the darkness, in water so frigid it can kill a man in minutes. Forty-two of them would be rescued. Here’s how.

Just Desserts

Katy Vine for Texas Monthly

Sandy Jenkins was an accountant at the Collin Street Bakery. He was tired of feeling invisible, so he started stealing – and got a little carried away.

A Deadly Hunt for Hidden Treasure Spawns an Online Mystery

Daymon Gardner for Wired

An epic riddle. An eccentric storyteller. A missing person. When a man vanishes in the wilderness, his family takes to the internet to find him.

The Breakup Museum

Leslie Jamison for VQR

The Museum of Broken Relationships is a collection of ordinary objects hung on walls, tucked under glass, backlit on pedestals. But what are the stories behind them?

The Ballad of Colton Harris-Moore

Bob Friel for Outside Magazine

In the Northwest’s San Juan Islands, best known for killer whales and Microsoft retirees, a teen fugitive has made a mockery of local authorities, allegedly stealing cars, taking planes for joy­rides, and breaking into vacation homes. His ability to elude the police and survive in the woods has earned him folk-hero status. But some wonder if the 18-year-old will make it out of the hunt alive.

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

Hunter S. Thompson for Rolling Stone

A savage journey to the heart of the American Dream, as told by gonzo journalism legend, Hunter S. Thompson.

The Plot Against the Principality of Sealand

Dylan Taylor-Lehman for Narratively

How the world’s quirkiest micro-nation got pulled into one of history’s most epic intercontinental frauds.

The Nutella Billionaires – Inside the Ferrero Family’s Secret Empire

Noah Kirsch for Forbes

On the outskirts of Alba, a cobble-stoned Italian city that dates to Roman times, stands a stark modern fortress. Behind 10-foot concrete walls, steel gates and uniformed guards lies not a nuclear facility or an army base but a chocolate factory.

Rapture of the Deep

Staff story for Sports Illustrated

Carried away by love – for risk and for each other – two of the world’s best freedivers went to the limits of their sport. Only one came back.

Tales from the Far-Flung Faroes

Christian Petersen for BBC

The people who live on remote rocks in the windswept Atlantic.

Heart of Dark Chocolate

Rowan Jacobsen for Outside Magazine

One German’s quest to unearth the centuries-long mystery of the finest cacao on earth.

Empire of Ice – Life on an Arctic Oil Rig

Jeanne Marie Laskas for GQ

On a $500 million man-made island in the frozen Arctic Ocean, just off the coast of a vast, uninhabitable tundra known as Alaska’s North Slope, a pipeline begins. In temperatures that hover around forty-five degrees below zero, in perpetual darkness, a tight-knit band of roughnecks spends twelve hours a day, seven days a week, drilling down, down into the earth and pulling up precious crude. If you want to know how badly we need oil, here is your answer.

Going down the Pipes

Darcy Fray for Topic Magazine

By the mid-’90s, the American air traffic control system was on the verge of a nervous breakdown: broken equipment, insane overtime, impossibly high stakes. We bring back a classic story from the frontlines of the world’s most stressful desk job.

Into Thin Air

Jon Krakauer for Outside Magazine

Fifty-four days after his group’s Everest climb turned tragic, Krakauer first told the story of what had gone wrong.

The Billionaire Battle in the Bahamas

Eric Konisberg for Vanity Fair

Peter Nygard is a hard-partying retail tycoon, whose estate is fit for a Mayan emperor. Louis Bacon is a buttoned-up hedge-fund king, whose passion is conservation. Both are locked in an eight-year legal war with each other that has turned each man’s paradise into hell.

The Last American Man

Elizabeth Gilbert for GQ

Eustace Conway is not like any man you know. He’s got perfect vision, perfect balance, perfect reflexes and travels through life with perfect equanimity. He is smart and fearless and believes he can do anything he sets his mind to – like saving America.

A Perfect Storm

Sebastian Junger for Outside Magazine

Six young men set out on a dead-calm sea to seek their fortunes. Suddenly they were hit by the worst gale in a century, and there wasn’t even time to shout.

The Silent Season of a Hero

Gay Talese for Random House

At 51, DiMaggio was a most distinguished-looking man, ageing as gracefully as he had played on the ball field, impeccable in his tailoring, his nails manicured, his 6-foot-2 body seeming as lean and capable as when he posed for the portrait that hangs in the restaurant and shows him in Yankee Stadium, swinging from the heels at a pitch thrown 20 years ago.

The Body in Room 248

Mark Bowden for Vanity Fair

The corpse at the Eleganté Hotel stymied the Beaumont, Texas, police. They could find no motive for the killing of popular oil-and-gas man Greg Fleniken – and no explanation for how he had received his strange internal injuries. Bent on tracking down his killer, Fleniken’s widow, Susie, turned to private investigator Ken Brennan, the subject of a previous Vanity Fair story. Once again, as Mark Bowden reports, it was Brennan’s sleuthing that cracked the case.

Tuesdays with Saddam

Lisa DiPaolo for GQ

Specialist Sean O’Shea guarded the most high-profile prisoner in U.S. history. What was it like?

Lost at Sea

Jon Ronson for The Guardian

When Rebecca Coriam vanished from the Disney Wonder in March, hers became one of the 171 mysterious cruise ship disappearances in the past decade. So what happened? Jon Ronson booked himself a cabin to find out.

The Last Ride of Cowboy Bob

Skip Hollansworth for Texas Monthly

He wore a Western hat, never spoke a word, and robbed bank after bank. When the feds finally arrested him, they discovered that their suspect was actually a soft-spoken woman. They thought they’d never hear from her again – but she had other plans.

Love Lives in Whitefish, Montana – But So Do Neo-Nazis

Anne Helen Petersen for Buzzfeed

When neo-Nazis started trolling Whitefish, Montana, the town had to make a definitive stand against hate. But the deepest-rooted intolerance in places like Whitefish isn’t the kind that makes headlines.

Into the Unknown

David Roberts for National Geographic

There were 31 men at the bottom of the world exploring uncharted territory. What followed was one of the most terrifying survival stories of all time.

Scenes from a Mall

Katy Vine for Texas Monthly

Meet the teenagers at the Marq*E Entertainment Center, a one-of-a-kind place that offers everything that matters in life: skateboarding, video games, movies, fortune-telling, bowling, miniature golf, T-shirts, ice cream – and close encounters with the opposite sex.

One Night at Kachka

Erin DeJesus for Eater

The real life of a restaurant extends far beyond a line cook’s shenanigans or the number of covers turned each night. It’s the happily tipsy regulars, the vivacious playlist, the backstory of the iconic dish. We’re looking at the big picture – and the small ones: minute by minute, dollar by dollar, vodka shot by vodka shot. Welcome to One Night at Kachka.

My Four Months as an Undercover Prison Guard

Shane Bauer for Mother Jones

“Within two weeks of filling out its online application, using my real name and personal information, several CCA prisons contacted me, some multiple times.”

Dirty John

Christopher Goffard for the Los Angeles Times

Their first date was at Houston’s, a restaurant in Irvine, where he opened the door for her and put her napkin on her lap. Candles flickered along the polished-mahogany bar; jazz drifted from speakers; conversation purred. But was he who he claimed to be?

The Invisible City – How a Homeless Man Built a Life Underground

Tom Lamont for The Guardian

After decades among the hidden homeless, Dominic Van Allen dug himself a bunker beneath a public park. But his life would get even more precarious.

The Strange and Curious Tale of the Last True Hermit

Michael Finkel for GQ

For nearly thirty years, a phantom haunted the woods of Central Maine. Unseen and unknown, he lived in secret, creeping into homes in the dead of night and surviving on what he could steal. To the spooked locals, he became a legend—or maybe a myth. They wondered how he could possibly be real. Until one day last year, the hermit came out of the forest.

Last Tango in Kabul

Matthieu Aikins for Rolling Stone

While war raged across Afghanistan, expats lived in a bubble of good times and easy money. But as the U.S. withdraws, life has taken a deadly turn.

Lara Page

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