The Top 5 Longreads of the Week March 29, 2013    

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1. The Master Marc Fisher | The New Yorker | March 26, 2013 | 51 minutes (12,758 words) At Horace Mann—the prestigious Bronx private school rocked by allegations of sexual abuse from the 1960s into the 1990s—former students recall a pattern of abuse from one eccentric English teacher: 

"And what about Mr. Berman—this odd, secretive man who frightened away many students, yet retired to a house that former students bought for him? He wasn't mentioned in the Times stories, but he may have been the greatest enigma of all. I talked to more than a hundred alumni, to many teachers who worked with him in the sixties and seventies, and to administrators who dealt with complaints about teachers. Berman stood out for his extraordinary control over boys' lives. Several of his former students have spent decades trying to grasp why they yearned to be close to him, and why they remained silent for so long after, by their accounts, he abused them. 'Berman counted on everyone’s silence,' one of the men who lived with him after graduating from Horace Mann told me. Like some of the others, he asked not to be named. 'He assumed that our own humiliation would keep us quiet,' he said."

See Also: "Prep-School Predators" (Amos Kamil, The New York Times Magazine, June 6, 2012)
2. The Weeklies Monica Potts | American Prospect | March 27, 2013 | 29 minutes (7,360 words) Inside the lives of homeless families staying at a Ramada Inn in the Colorado suburbs:

"At any given time, roughly 20 to 40 guests are staying long term. Since they pay by the week, they call themselves 'weeklies.' To score the cheap rates, $210 for individuals and slightly more for families, they must pay in advance. Residents sign a form that lists the activities that could get them kicked out (mostly involving drugs) and warns that they won’t get reimbursed if they leave early, no exceptions. Some families stay only for a few weeks, some for months, giving the hotel the feeling of a dormitory. A rotating cast of front-desk clerks sells candy and rations towels and washcloths. Though some of the clerks are kind and helpful, the guests think of them as enforcers, and the clerks tend to treat the weeklies less as customers than as undergraduates stealing toilet paper and sneaking in hot plates."

More American Prospect: "U.S. Out of Vermont!" (Christopher Ketcham, March 19, 2013)
3. Unfit for Work Chana Joffe-Walt | Planet Money | March 22, 2013 | 16 minutes (4,105 words) The number of Americans on disability has skyrocketed in the last three decades, and the Social Security Administration says the reserves in the disability insurance program are on track to run out in 2016:

"Scott tried school for a while, but hated it. So he took the advice of the rogue staffer who told him to suck all the benefits he could out of the system. He had a heart attack after the mill closed and figured, 'Since I've had a bypass, maybe I can get on disability, and then I won't have worry to about this stuff anymore.' It worked; Scott is now on disability.
"Scott's dad had a heart attack and went back to work in the mill. If there'd been a mill for Scott to go back to work in, he says, he'd have done that too. But there wasn't a mill, so he went on disability. It wasn't just Scott. I talked to a bunch of mill guys who took this path—one who shattered the bones in his ankle and leg, one with diabetes, another with a heart attack. When the mill shut down, they all went on disability."

See Also: "Veterans' Struggle" (Anna Fifield, Financial Times, Jan. 21, 2012)
4. A King With No Country Ariel Sabar | Washingtonian | March 27, 2013 | 28 minutes (6,984 words) How the last king of Rwanda ended up living on public assistance in Virginia:

"In 1990, under Western pressure, Rwandan president Juvenal Habyarimana, a Hutu who had ruled with an iron first for nearly two decades, agreed to share power with other parties. Seeing its chance, the Rwandan Patriotic Front, the militant group of Tutsi exiles in Uganda, invaded, igniting long-dormant tensions between Hutu and Tutsi.
"Kigeli refused to endorse the RPF's violent tactics, but a Rwandan journalist who interviewed him in Kenya was arrested upon his return to Rwanda on charges of harming state security. Kenya's then-president, Daniel Arap Moi, had close ties to Habyarimana, and Kigeli and Benzinge began to fear for their security.
"The United States wouldn't just be safer, they thought; its freedoms of speech would allow them to broadcast Rwanda's plight to the world. They picked up the phone and called the one American they knew: Bill Fisher."

More Sabar: "The Inside Story of a Controversial New Text About Jesus" (Smithsonian, Sept. 18, 2012)

Books by Sabar on Amazon
5. That Other School Shooting Jay Caspian Kang | The New York Times Magazine | March 28, 2013 | 22 minutes (5,511 words) A school shooting in Oakland—and the suspect, a Korean immigrant—leads to questions within the Korean-American community: 

"'I know this shooting had something to do with han, with hwabyung,' Chung went on. 'I feel almost guilty saying that, knowing how hurtful those words might be to other members of the Korean community. But all my training, everything I’ve seen, everything I’ve read and my own personal experiences all point to that. This guy was suffering from something that was very Korean.'"

More Kang: "The High Is Always the Pain and the Pain Is Always the High" (The Morning News, Oct. 8, 2010)
Fiction Pick: The Smoothest Way Is Full of Stones Julie Orringer | Zoetrope: All-Story | Spring 2003 | 37 minutes (9,145 words) A girl is sent to stay with her cousin in Israel:

"My cousin says that when I go home I should encourage my parents to keep kosher, that we should always say b'rachot before and after eating, that my mother and I should wear long skirts and long-sleeved shirts every day. She says all this will help my mother recover, the way it helped her mother recover from the divorce. I try to tell her how long it's been since we've even done the normal things, like go to the movies or make a big Chinese dinner in the wok. But Esty just watches me with a distant, enlightened look in her eyes and says we have to try to do what God wants. I have been here a month, and still I haven't told her any of the bad things I've done this year—sneaked cigarettes from my friends' mothers' packs, stole naked-lady playing cards from a street vendor on West 33rd, kissed a boy from swim team behind the bleachers after a meet. I had planned to tell her all these things, thinking she'd be impressed, but soon I understood that she wouldn't."

More Longreads fiction picks

Books by Orringer on Amazon
Featured Longreader
Todd Devlin @ToddDevlin
Todd is a Canadian-based freelance writer and editor.
"There are certainly more questions than answers in the case of Tim Danielson, a former American runner who today sits in a San Diego county jail, charged with the 2011 killing of his ex-wife. But that's what makes 'After the Mile' such an intriguing read—and my favorite longread this month. Jeré Longman skillfully alternates between the scene of the tragedy and detailing the life story of the reclusive Danielson, who in 1966 became the second high school athlete to run the mile in under four minutes. Was this another athlete's fall from grace? If so, it was an especially long and slow one. Longman seeks to answer the many questions surrounding the Danielson case, and in doing so produces an excellent piece of journalism on a subject who, long before that fateful day in 2011, was already seen as 'one of American track and field's most enduring mysteries.' We often wonder about the lives of star athletes no longer in the spotlight. We ask, 'where are they now?' Sadly, as in the case of Tim Danielson, far too often the answer is, 'Not in a good place.'"
After the Mile Jeré Longman | The New York Times | March 13, 2013 | 27 minutes (6,720 words)
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