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Dublin: 11°C Friday 25 June 2021

Sitdown Sunday: 7 deadly reads

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

Mount Everest in Nepal
Mount Everest in Nepal
Image: David Cheskin/PA Wire

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. Child Brides

Lauren Wolfe shows us the options that young, unmarried females have in Syrian refugee camps: marry, or face prostitution or rape. And even if you do marry, you still face either of the above, plus the ever-present risk of violence. With Syrian families in desperate straits, they have taken to allowing their young daughters, some in their early teens, get married – even though the marriages are illegal if they are under 18 unless they apply for a special waiver. The young girls have little to no say, but the parents often feel they have no choice. (The Nation) (Approx 11 minutes reading time – 2341 words)

Like many men in the camp, Mohamed decided to hand over his eldest daughter early for marriage to protect her as well as to get a little money for his family. He says he worries about the girls Nada associates with: there are rumors that many are turning to prostitution to feed themselves. He worries that Nada will be raped if she remains single. And he fears she’ll lose her childhood no matter what he decides.

2. After the massacre

Eli Saslow meets the Barden family almost six months after the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut. Mark and Jackie lost their son Daniel (7) in the shootings, which has completely turned their and their two surviving children’s worlds upside down. They want people to remember their son, and to continue the fight for stricter gun laws. But they do all this against a backdrop of unimaginable grief.(Washington Post) (Approx 31 minutes reading time – 6273 words)

Mark turned on his computer and began looking for the right picture. “Something lighthearted,” he said. “Something sweet.” He had been sitting in the same chair Dec. 14, when he received an automated call about a Code Red Alert, and much of the basement had been preserved in that moment. Nobody had touched the foosball table, because Daniel had been the last to play. His books and toy trains sat in their familiar piles, gathering dust. The basement had always been Daniel’s space, and some days Mark believed he could still smell him here, just in from playing outside, all grassy and muddy.

3. Danger city

Ed Vulliamy tells us that Medellín in Colombia was the world’s most dangerous city, the place where the notorious drug baron Pablo Escobar was killed, and where several car bombs a day could explode during his reign. But one man, Alejandro Echeverrie, is determined to change the face of the city. Can he succeed, given the city’s not so distant past? (The Guardian) (Approx 31 minutes reading time – 6239 words)

Now, in the barrio, we walk past one of the cedezos scattered through the poor ‘hoods – these are “entrepreneurial development centres”, explains Echeverri, “where people can get a cheap credit loan if they want to start up a small café or shop”. In the parque biblioteca is an atmosphere of diligence and purpose, people poring over books or computers. But the real attestations to change are the teenage boys mooching around beneath murals painted to commemorate las victimas del conflicto in Comuna 1 (they are vividly depicted: a thicket of crosses; a woman bound, gagged and chained, another violated; a man with his leg blown off).

4. Frozen in Time

Josh Dean of Buzzfeed takes a look at cryopreservation- freezing dead bodies in order to revive them at some point in the future – which fell somewhat out of favour in recent years, but still has its dedicated fans. At the Alcor Life Extension Foundation, so far there are 150 dead people frozen in storage, but its membership stands at over 1,000.  Thanks to Alcor, we learn why choosing to freeze your head isn’t such a bad idea, and how close we are to being able to ‘revive’ dead frozen bodies.  (Buzzfeed) (Approx 48 minutes reading time – 9676 words)

There is no clear consensus as to how long after a person is declared dead that it becomes basically pointless to perform a cryopreservation — certain things, like injecting the blood thinner heparin to prevent blood clots, and getting a body on ice immediately, can stem decay and buy you some time — but More said that Alcor has basically settled on 24 hours as being the window of opportunity.

5. The Top of the World

Mark Jenkins tells us that today, Everest “has become an icon for everything that is wrong with climbing”. While only six people reached the top in 1963, there were 500 there in the spring of 2012. The amount of people visiting has increased so much that there are queues going up and down. Jenkins tells us that the mountain has become polluted by garbage, while people continue to lose their lives on it. But he believes the world’s highest peak is not beyond repair. (National Geographic) (Approx 12 minutes reading time – 2552 words)

An hour above high camp on the Southeast Ridge of Everest, Panuru Sherpa and I passed the first body. The dead climber was on his side, as if napping in the snow, his head half covered by the hood of his parka, goose down blowing from holes torn in his insulated pants. Ten minutes later we stepped around another body, her torso shrouded in a Canadian flag, an abandoned oxygen bottle holding down the flapping fabric.

6. Finding the Friedmans

Trevor Bach meets Jesse Friedman, and tells us the 44-year-old “has gone through hell for a crime that he says he didn’t commit”. Now, he is trying to rebuild his life, decades after he and his father, Arnold, were charged with child sex abuse. They were the subjects of the documentary Capturing the Friedmans, which cast doubt on the men’s guilt, and in the last decade Jesse has got married and started a business – but he continues to fight for his conviction to be overturned. (Salon) (Approx 31 minutes reading time – 6236 words)

They are happily married, Jesse stresses. They want to start a family, or at least consider it. But the conversations never get far: Jesse isn’t allowed within 500 feet of school property. He couldn’t pick up his daughter from kindergarten, or watch his son’s soccer game or go to a parent teacher conference. And his name, address, date of birth, photo, even car model and license plate are all listed on a Connecticut state website. It wouldn’t take long before all the other parents knew who he was. Surely no parent would ever let her child come play at the Friedman house.


In 1985, Ian Kershaw looked at the ‘Hitler Myth’, and the idea of heroic leadership. How did German people see him when he was leader of their country? What led to the beginnings of a personality cult around Hitler? Kershaw examines what Hitler symbolised for Nazis and why “the Fuhrer cult could within a strikingly short time, extend its hold to wide sections of the population, and eventually to the overwhelming majority of Germans”.  (History Today) (Approx 23 minutes reading time – 4709 words)

Given the fact that Nazi propaganda now enjoyed a virtual monopoly within Germany, and that those taking a less than favourable view of Hitler’s qualities were now incarcerated or silenced by fear and repression, the scene was set for the rapid establishment by the end of 1934 of the full-blown Fuhrer cult of an almost deified national leader. No doubt many Germans found the extremes of the now omnipresent Hitler cult nauseating. But they were for the most part coming to accept that Hitler was no ordinary head of government.

More: The best reads from every previous Sitdown Sunday >

The Sports Pages – the best sports writing collected every week by TheScore.ie >

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