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Dublin: 13 °C Monday 28 May, 2018

Sitdown Sunday: 7 deadly reads

The very best of the week’s writing from around the globe.

Michael Freeman

IT’S A DAY of rest, and you may be in the mood for a quiet corner and a comfy chair. We’ve hand-picked the week’s best reads for you to savour this Sunday.

1. The final minutes of Osama bin Laden

Nicholas Schmidle on what really happened the night the world’s most wanted man died (New Yorker).

Bounding up the unlit stairs, they scanned the railed landing. On the top stair, the lead SEAL swivelled right; with his night-vision goggles, he discerned that a tall, rangy man with a fist-length beard was peeking out from behind a bedroom door, ten feet away.

2. Building a ‘Stan from scratch

Joshua Kucera on the president of Kazakhstan’s efforts to build an entirely new capital city in the middle of the desert (Slate).

If Guinness were to keep a record of Greatest Number of Heads of State To Attend the Opening of a Shopping Mall, it’s safe to assume that the standard was set last summer at the grand opening of the Khan Shatyr in Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan.

3. Stories from the sex industry

Susannah Breslin collects the intimate personal experiences of prostitutes, and their customers (Guardian)

Every time I see her I think it’ll be the last time but nothing I do gets her out of my head. She thinks I’m a nice guy but I’m just a client to her – to me, she’s everything I’ve ever wanted or could want in another person.

4. An election in cowboy country

Jeff Sharlet meets the er… colourful supporters of the politician whose campaign brought the cowboy myth to life (Guernica).

In Vietnam, when he was on the A-team, Don was known as “Clint,” as in Eastwood. But he didn’t really like Eastwood. “He was personally responsible for Westerns being too realistic,” Don said. “His hero wasn’t black-and-white; he was gray. I’m not interested in being real, a realistic cowboy. There’s been enough of those.”

5. Before CDs, the cars that had record players

Paul Collins on one man’s bizarre quest to install LP turntables in car dashboards (The Believer).

Goldmark pitched the invention to Detroit, and within days found himself at a Chrysler test track. Horn-rimmed execs swapped records in and out of the player as the auto giant’s president wildly drove a car over a torture-track of cobblestone, speed bumps, and washboard test strips.

6. Riding the river flood

W Hodding Carter makes a dangerous, and illegal, 300-mile canoe journey on the flooding Mississippi (Outside).

It was our second day canoeing the Great Flood of 2011, and the river was hurling us southward at a rate of almost 100 miles a day. “My wife,” John finally answered, shaking his head. “Somebody told her there’s a shoot-to-kill order for anyone on the water.”


In January 1996, David Foster Wallace took a troubled trip on a very luxurious cruise ship for Harper’s magazine (pdf).

The railing I do most of my contemplative gazing from is on Deck 10, so the sea is way below, slopping and heaving around, so it’s a little like looking down into a briskly flushing toilet. No fins in view.

Read more: The best reads from every previous Sitdown Sunday >

Read the best sports-writing from the past week with TheScore>

Have you read something that should be included here? If you find a great article during the week, email it to with the subject ‘Sitdown Sunday’.

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About the author:

Michael Freeman

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