Dublin: 3 °C Thursday 30 November, 2023
Shane Gorski via Flickr Inside an abandoned building in Detroit

Sitdown Sunday 7 deadly reads

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

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.

1. Being a wife on the campaign trail
Ariel Levy on the progress of Newt Gingrich’s other half, Callista, as he fights for the US presidency (New Yorker).

“You and I have such beautiful natural color,” the redhead said, chuckling conspiratorially. “Yeah, right!” Mrs Gingrich kept her face frozen in a smile, but she did not really look amused. “Have you met Ellis the Elephant?”

2. What’s happening in Burma?
Emma Larkin writes from inside the secretive country about the thawing of its military dictatorship – nicknamed the Burmese Spring (The New Republic).

“It feels like everyone in the city has just heaved a collective sigh of relief,” a friend in Rangoon told me. People are talking more freely; they no longer lower their voices when discussing politics; and one hears alarm-bell words—democracy, elections, dictatorship—bandied about with an uncharacteristic ease.

3. Inside the broken Motor City
Ingrid Norton on what Detroit, once the industrial heart of America, has become (Los Angeles Review of Books).

Emergency services here have the worst response time in the nation because there aren’t enough staff to cover the ground. “A guy’d been shot with an AK-47,” the EMT continued. “Lying in the middle of the street. They waited half an hour — half an hour — to call an ambulance.”

4. An oral history of Guantanamo Bay
Detainees, diplomats, lawyers and soldiers tell the story of the notorious prison camp in their own words, ten years after its opening (Vanity Fair).

The main gate to Camp X-Ray opened, and the bus pulls up. I’m standing 20 feet away. You could hear the Marines on the bus yelling at the detainees. You know, shut up. Look down. You’re now property of the United States of America.

5. What happens to stolen bikes?
After Patrick Symmes‘s bike got stolen, he set out to discover where it had gone. Here’s what he found (Outside).

Stolen bicycles have become a solvent in America’s underground economy, a currency in the world of drug addicts and petty thieves. Bikes are portable and easily converted to cash, and they usually vanish without a trace—in some places, only 5 percent are even reported stolen.

6. Learning your ethnic identity
Aleksandar Hemon returns to his ethnically divided homeland Bosnia and Herzegovina – recovering from civil war – and goes into its schools (Guernica).

The humiliations just change forms, anger changes the pitch, the misery is daily activity—and the paling children absorb everything. “This is the reality,” Principal Pezo shouted. “This is the reality we live in.”


As rescue workers search the Costa Concordia for survivors or worse, it’s likely that other teams are also eyeing the vessel. In 2008, Joshua Davis covered a mission with Titan Salvage – a crack team of specialists who refloat huge capsized ships – for Wired.

The water is about 8 feet deep and runs the length of the compartment — dozens of new Mazdas can be seen beneath the murky surface like drowning victims. It means the seal has been compromised. It’s leaking slowly and could fail completely at any moment. If that happened, seawater would fill the deck in a matter of minutes and drown them all.

More: The best reads from every previous Sitdown Sunday>

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