A2A Long Reads | The Best Long-form Writing of 2017
Who ever said long reads are dead?
Since launching the A2A Long Reads half a year ago, I’ve read so many incredible stories from a variety of both mainstream and independent publications. From investigate stories to analytical pieces to in-depth interviews, with every article, I’ve learned a little more about a little bit of everything! So, just in time for the New Year, in no particular order, here’s a recap of my favourite A2A Long Reads of 2017:
On the evening of June 27, 2015, 21-year-old Dylann Roof walked into the basement of Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston and killed nine black churchgoers in cold blood. The depravity of the hate crime sent shockwaves through the country and challenged mainstream beliefs of what today’s terrorism looks like. One writer sets out to uncover what drove Roof to commit this horrifying crime and subsequently become the first person sentenced to die for a federal hate crime in American history.
On September 11, 2001, as two passenger airlines slammed into the World Trade Center, then-president George W. Bush sat in a Florida classroom surrounded by children. Over the course of the next eight hours, as America plunged into terror and despair, his whereabouts would be unknown to the entire world with the small exception of those who were with him. Told through their own words, this is the story of Air Force One’s journey during the country’s darkest hour.
Creating an on-camera rape scene is hard work. It needs to be real and believable but not overdone or sensationalized. Most importantly, it needs to be done safely, studied and choreographed in advance to keep the actors safe. But while rape choreography is vital, what toll do acting out and filming such scenes have on cast and crew members? Rape stories must be told, but at what psychological and emotional costs?
Within the “alt-right,” a rebellious movement that has seemingly swelled since Donald Trump took office, white men are loath to give white women a seat at the table. But an increasing number of women are fighting for to have their voices heard. Why? Because “no movement can survive on men alone” and the alt-right is no exception.
It’s the summer of 1966. Students at the University of Texas are bustling about when suddenly, shots ring out from the campus Tower. Over the course of the next 96 minutes, a single man will shoot 43 people, killing 15. As the U.S. continues to reel from this year’s deadly shooting in Las Vegas, Pamela Colloff of the Texas Monthly takes readers back to the country’s “first mass murder in a public space.”
Just as U.S. President Donald Trump made international headlines this year for revoking the rights of transgender people, The Oregonian‘s Casey Parks shares the story of one transgender teen’s first three years of high school. This is part one of Jay’s story.
When Dawn Chapman first learns about the underground fire that’s been burning near her home since 2010, she’s shocked. When she learns about the 50 thousand tons of nuclear waste illegally dumped into a landfill just 1,000 feet from that fire, she’s in disbelief. But when she learns that that fire and waste could eventually meet and cause “an event,” that shock and disbelief turn into action. This story isn’t about the crime but rather, the cover up.
Nineteen-year-old Tim Piazza had his entire life ahead of him. A sophomore at Penn State, like many university students across the U.S., he was eager to pledge Greek life. Few could have imagined that Piazza’s initiation into the university’s local chapter of Beta Theta Pi would cost him his life and ultimately, shed light on a horrifying culture of hazing that remains implicit within many American fraternities.
The concept of repressed memories is no stranger to controversy. While scientifically unsubstantiated, some alternative practices such as hypnotherapy and psychotherapy continue to encourage patients to access repressed memories in the hopes of explaining emotional turmoil. But how does one distinguish repressed memories from imagined ones? WIRED UK’s Emma Bryce shares one researcher’s quest to prove that some memories are false — and can have devastating consequences in the criminal justice system.
Welcome to Parris Island, one of two official U.S. Marine Corps training depots, just off the coast of South Carolina. It’s here that many young recruits from across the country begin their first stage of intensive corps training. Boot camp on this island is notoriously arduous, meant to weed out the weak. It’s gruelling work, but it’ll make a Marine out of you. If you survive, of course.
Decades of disturbing allegations of sexual assault and harassment have finally caught up to Harvey Weinstein, one of Hollywood’s most prominent executives. After The New York Times‘ explosive investigation revealed that Weinstein had paid off his accusers for decades, more victims have come forward. In this shocking long read from The New Yorker, multiple women recount their personal experiences with Weinstein, during which they say they were either assaulted, harassed or in some cases, both.
The horror of London’s Grenfell Tower fire is one that’s still difficult to grasp. Buildings simply aren’t meant to burn the way Grenfell did. Investigations to determine the cause of the deadly fire are still underway and expected to go into 2018. For survivors of the tragedy, the terror of that night remains as vivid as though it were yesterday. Here are some of their harrowing stories of survival.