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sitdown sunday

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. The unknown camps
Eric Lichyblau profiles the work of the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, and the thousands of previously unknown Nazi ghettos and camps that they’ve uncovered. (The New York Times)

Auschwitz and a handful of other concentration camps have come to symbolize the Nazi killing machine in the public consciousness. Likewise, the Nazi system for imprisoning Jewish families in hometown ghettos has become associated with a single site — the Warsaw Ghetto, famous for the 1943 uprising. But these sites, infamous though they are, represent only a minuscule fraction of the entire German network, the new research makes painfully clear.

2. Danger at every turn
Jeremy Relph offers a descriptive and frightening insight into everyday life in Ciudad Juárez in Mexico. (Buzzfeed)

You accept the evil here in faith. Faith, after all, is belief in the unseen. It’s the opposite of hope but the same muscle. You don’t see it, but you know it’s there. We eat tacos al pastor later that evening, back in the city. We hear war stories. A friend mimics the bang bang of shooting, making a rifle with his hands. A patron behind me, waiting for his takeout, wears a gun on his hip. The restaurant is half full, and our waiter becomes inattentive, hurrying to another table. Our friend realizes that seated at the table behind us are members of a local cartel comprising dirty cops, La Linea. The patron waiting on his takeout is a state cop. In the Juárez of yesterday, this might have lead to a restaurant littered with dead bodies. Cuidad Juárez is changing.

3. Time abides
Ashley Fetters looks back at the film ‘The Big Lebowski’, and the dude disciples that still worship it. (The Atlantic)

I asked Russell what it was about this strange, vaguely plotless film that seems to unfailingly bring people together – even in places where The Big Lebowski’s core American-ness isn’t as treasured. His answer was heartfelt and reverent. “The Dude kind of crosses all boundaries,” he said. “He’s this kind of anti-hero, anti-materialism, low-ambition, content-with-who-he-is, genuine person. People really respond to that kind of character. The Dude doesn’t need a fancy car or a big old house. He’s just happy to take a bubble bath and go bowling with his friends. That’s all he wants.”

4. Life in Aleppo
Kurt Pelda takes a trip to the Syrian ‘death zone’, and bears witness to a war where there are no innocent children left. (Spiegel Online)

If you want to survive in this city gone mad you watch out for flying metal and rubble. If an aerial bomb explodes in the area, people stay under shelter for at least 10 seconds afterwards — that’s how long it takes for the debris hurled into the air from the crater to come raining down, often over a distance of hundreds of meters, with deadly force.

5. The science of sleep
Elizabeth Kilbert looks at the pioneering work of Nathaniel Kleitman, and how hard it can be to get a good night’s sleep. (New Yorker)

In one of Kleitman’s first experiments, he kept half a dozen young men awake for days at a stretch, then ran them through a battery of physical and psychological tests. Frequently, he used himself as a subject. As a participant in the sleep-deprivation experiment, Kleitman stayed awake longer than anyone else—a hundred and fifteen hours straight. At one point, exhausted and apparently hallucinating, he declared, apropos of nothing in particular, “It is because they are against the system.” (Asked what he meant, he said he’d been under the impression that he was “having a heated argument with the observer on the subject of labor unions.”)

6. A galaxy far far away
Devin Leonard dissects the deal that saw Lucasfilm sold to Disney, and wonders what’s next for Star Wars. (Bloomberg Businessweek)

“I’ve never been that much of a money guy,” Lucas says. “I’m more of a film guy, and most of the money I’ve made is in defense of trying to keep creative control of my movies.” Lucas is speaking by phone, giving a reluctant interview about the sale of Lucasfilm. He tells the familiar story about how he didn’t set out to be rich and powerful. He just wanted to make experimental movies like THX-1138, set in a futuristic world where sex is illegal, drug taking is mandatory, and brutal androids make sure people comply with the rules.


In 2010, Amy Ellis Nutt wrote in New about the sinking of a scallop boat. She won a Pulitzer prize for her report. Having read it, you’ll see why.

Although Arias does not know it yet, all six of his friends and fellow fishermen are dead, and the red-hulled scalloper, the Lady Mary, is resting, right-side up, on the sandy bottom of the Atlantic. The mystery of what sank her, which continues to haunt the maritime world, has just begun. For months, what happened to the 71-foot Lady Mary baffled the Coast Guard, marine experts, fishermen, divers and heartbroken loved ones – all of whom wanted to know how a sound and stable boat with an experienced crew could disappear from the ocean’s surface in a matter of minutes and leave so few clues behind.

More: The best reads from every previous Sitdown Sunday >

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