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Will Self Goes in Search of the American Blues by Will Self for Esquire UK. 
The very best long reads of the week
Chosen by Don Van Natta Jr. (@DVNJr) and Jacob Feldman (@JacobFeldman4)

Happy spring everyone (in the Northern Hemisphere)! To celebrate, we'll be taking a brief Spring Break, so there will be no newsletter on Sunday, April 3rd.

Don and Jacob 


How a Ragtag Gang of Retirees Pulled Off the Biggest Jewel Heist in British History

Vanity Fair
Mark Seal

Hidden inside rolling garbage bins, an estimated $300 million worth of cash and jewels were carted out of an underground vault in Hatton Garden, London’s diamond district, in April 2015. Astonished Londoners called it “the perfect crime”a theft carrying all the enterprising audacity of the Lufthansa heist at LaGuardia Airport on December 11, 1978. Lufthansa, though, was pulled off by the Mob. And so what if I told you that the Hatton Garden heist that captured the UK’s imagination was executed by an unlikely “ragtag gang” of seven retirees (some with health problems)? And that it took all the high-tech expertise of one of the world’s leading investigative firms to round up the thieves, who were, luckily for the authorities, a pack of “analog criminals in a digital world?” (Well, that and they were also done in by the missteps of the team’s befuddled bag man, a guy named “Billy the Fish” Lincoln.)

This is another enormously entertaining story by Mark Seal, one of my favorite writers. 


Last Men Standing

San Francisco Chronicle
Erin Allday

For over a decade, gay men in San Francisco had to deal with near-constant grief as their friends, colleagues, and lovers succumbed to HIV. Now those who survived face another reason for sadness: their continued existence. Erin Allday spoke with man after man who were told they should live like their time was running thin. They quit jobs, gave up on saving, and now must face the consequences of those decisions with little help. Peter Greene summed up their struggle. “I’m the luckiest unlucky person in the world,” he said. “No one wants to be the last man standing.”

No. 2: The Great Unsettling

The Washington Post

David Maraniss and Robert Samuels

In 35 days, David Marannis and Robert Samuels zig-zagged across the United States in search of answers to a pair of deceptively simple questions: What’s happening in America? And what does it mean to be an American? This is an ambitious, four-part series that attempts to make sense of easily the strangest Presidential election season in American history that’s noteworthy, most of all, for its anger.

No. 3: The Art of the Smear

Dune Lawrence

In this riveting read, journalist Dune Lawrence describes a financier/blogger’s two-year campaign to destroy her reputation online. 

No. 4: Close Encounter

Amy Wallace

The always-great Amy Wallace introduces us to Jeff Nichols, “Hollywood’s next blockbuster auteur.” This one is fun.

No. 5: Selfies, Dating and the American 14-Year-Old
Vanity Fair

Nancy Jo Sales

“The typical American teenage girl is confronted with a set of social anxieties never before seen in human history.” Here’s an excerpt of Nancy Jo Sales’ smart new book, American Girls: Social Media and the Secret Lives of Teenagers.

No. 6: Emerald Sea

Robert P. Baird

Trek down to Key West, where U.S. 1 ends, with Robert P. Baird for the making – and unmaking – of a half-billion dollar treasure discovery.

No. 7: The Patriot: How Philanthropist David Rubenstein Helped Save a Tax Break Billionaires Love

Alec MacGillis

This is a story for those who only nod approvingly when they hear talk of private equity, money managers, and tax loopholes. Alec MacGillis will explain all of it with common language while pulling apart the push for a more sensible tax policy and exploring the people fighting for the loophole to stay.

No. 8: The Fugitive
The New York Times Magazine

Robert Kolker

Jan Baalsrud escaped the Nazis and became a Norwegian folk hero. He had a lot of help.

No. 9: I'm Your Boss Now

The Atavist Magazine

Evan Ratliff

Chapter One of The Atavist's "The Mastermind" series was our most-clicked story last week, so we probably don't have to sell you on Chapter Two, released this week.

No. 10: David Beckham on Retirement, Family Life, and Protecting His Kids


Michael Paterniti

Three years ago, David Beckham stepped off the pitch for the final time. Michael Paterniti explains why—and how—Becks has become more world-famous now than ever before.

No. 11: Drew Brees Has a Dream He'd Like to Sell You
ESPN The Magazine

Mina Kimes

With the Saints’ Drew Brees as its quarterback, AdvoCare is relying on sports to build a nutrition company juggernaut. But is AdvoCare selling false hope? An outstanding piece of work by my friend and colleague, Mina Kimes.

No. 12: Bobby Gunn: Champion of the Underworld

Men's Journal

Stayton Bonner

The world's top underground bareknuckle fighter wants to go legit. It's the fight of his life.

No. 13: Out Here, No One Can Hear You Scream
HuffPost Highline

Kathryn Joyce

Within America’s national parks, Kathryn Joyce discovers a culture of male entitlement and sexual hostility.

No. 14: A Journey to the Medical Netherworld


Alison Motluk

A mother’s heartbreaking quest to find her daughter a diagnosis.

No. 15: Your Phone Was Made By Slaves

Kevin Bales

Modern day abolitionist Kevin Bales takes a dangerous trip to the Eastern Congo in order to show you how the slave economy is still very much alive, and how you might be unwittingly feeding it. He starts with an attention-grabbing lede: "It’s never a happy moment when you’re shopping for a tombstone

No. 16: Rise and Stall
Tampa Bay Times

Alex Leary

This is one of the best pieces we’ve read on Florida Senator Marco Rubio’s doomed campaign for President. 

No. 17: Will Self Goes In Search of the American Blues
Esquire UK

Will Self

Accompanied by his son, Will Self embarks on a musical discovery tour though the Mississippi Delta. We trust you’ll enjoy their excursion as much as we did.

No. 18: The Fall of Johnny Football


Emily Kaplan

Rising writing star Emily Kaplan details falling football star Johnny Manziel's public unraveling, with new details and telling quotes.

No. 19: The Best Magazine on the Early Web
The Atlantic

Anna Wiener

In a time before Chartbeat, there was a wonderful, strange website called Suck.

No. 20: When It's Good to be Bad


Cody Delistraty

If you fail, that’s OK. If you aren’t always made of grit, that’s OK, too. If you fall short of excellence now, it doesn’t mean you’ll never achieve excellence. Cody Delistraty explains. And here’s another outstanding piece about work, achievement and life goals, in The Economist.



Coverage of the Scopes Trial (1925)
The Baltimore Evening Sun
H.L. Mencken

It was the trial of the century, pitting the fundamentalists against the modernists as a public school teacher named John Scopes was prosecuted under a Tennessee state law banning the teaching of evolution in public schools. H.L. Mencken covered the event in 13 installments for his newspaper, the Baltimore Evening Sun, contributing 20,000 hilarious words to the case over the summer of 1925. Mencken took sides from the beginning, advising Scopes' attorney Clarence Darrow against prosecutor William Jennings Bryan, concluding his dispatches with this big swing: "On the one side was bigotry, ignorance, hatred, superstition, every sort of blackness that the human mind is capable of. On the other side was sense." Scopes lost the case, but Mencken and Darrow won in the court of public opinion.

Jack Shafer writes about media for Politico.


So much anger out there in America.

Anger at Wall Street. Anger at Muslims. Anger at trade deals. Anger at Washington. Anger at police shootings of young black men. Anger at President Obama. Anger at Republican obstructionists. Anger about political correctness. Anger about the role of big money in campaigns. Anger about the poisoned water of Flint, Mich. Anger about deportations. Anger about undocumented immigrants. Anger about a career that didn’t go as expected. Anger about a lost way of life. Mob anger at groups of protesters in their midst. Specific anger and undefined anger and even anger about anger.

-The Great Unsettling by David Maraniss and Robert Samuels


“When he had LeBron James as a mentor, texting him all the time, hanging out at his house watching football, and Johnny didn’t listen to his advice? That’s when I knew he had a problem.”

-A former coach in The Fall of Johnny Football by Emily Kaplan

Hunt for the Grey Ghost

BBC Earth

An attempt to capture the beauty of the snow leopard on film requires a cross-globe voyage, treks in extremely high altitude, the support of local populations, and a lot of luck.


Nancy Gibbs and Lev Grossman

Apple’s CEO discusses America’s national security and his company’s fight with the FBI over its customers’ privacy.

The 10 Most Beautiful Ceilings in the World
BBC Culture
Jonathan Glancey

To see the world’s most beautiful creations, you sometimes have to crane your neck.

An Oral History of the Comedy Cellar

Vanity Fair
Katla McGlynn
and Jessica Pilot

Across three decades, nothing much changes at NYC’s legendary Comedy Cellar (overseen by tough-as-nails booker Estee Adoram)—except the list of legends that has used the club as a launching pad just keeps growing.

Still Looking
New Yorker

Ian Frazier

A thermonuclear warhead has gone missing…

Toxic Girl
by Kings of Convenience
Read Later
The top Sunday long reads are selected with care by ESPN Senior Writer and NYT bestselling author Don Van Natta Jr. (@DVNJr) and Jacob Feldman (@JacobFeldman4) of Sports Illustrated.

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