This Week's Long Reads from Texas Church Burnings to Obama's Mother
From the shocking story behind a slew of Texas church burnings to the Chinese adventures of exiled NBA star Stephon Marbury, The Daily Beast picks the best longform journalism from around the Web this week.
“Church Burners” Pamela Collof, Texas Monthly
It was one of the most perplexing crimes anyone could recall—10 churches in East Texas torched in six weeks. But even more mysterious was the fact that the arsonists were two local boys, raised as Baptists, who had met in Sunday school.
Obama's Young Mother Abroad Janny Scott, The New York Times Magazine
She carried her chin a few degrees higher than most. His right hand rested on her shoulder, lightly. The man was Barack Obama at 26, the community organizer from Chicago on a visit to New York. The woman was Stanley Ann Dunham, his mother. It was impossible not to be struck by the similarities, and the dissimilarities, between them. It was impossible not to question the stereotype to which she had been expediently reduced: the white woman from Kansas.
“Welcome to the Far Eastern Conference”Wells Tower, GQ
Exiled from the NBA, vilified by the press, and ridiculed for a serious of questionable YouTube videos, Stephon Marbury is seeking redemption—and vast riches—in basketball-mad China. Now, if he can just win over his communist bosses, he'll be the biggest thing since Yao Ming.
“Where Does Good Come From?”Leon Neyfakh, The Boston Globe
What E.O. Wilson is trying to do, late in his influential career, is nothing less than overturn a central plank of established evolutionary theory: the origins of altruism. His position is provoking ferocious criticism from other scientists. Last month, the leading scientific journal Nature published five strongly worded letters saying, more or less, that Wilson has misunderstood the theory of evolution and generally doesn’t know what he’s talking about. One of these carried the signatures of an eye-popping 137 scientists, including two of Wilson’s colleagues at Harvard.
“Philip Larkin, The Impossible Man”Christopher Hitchens, The Atlantic
“I once attempted a comparison and contrast between Larkin and Orwell, as exemplars of a certain style of ‘Englishness,’” Hitchens writes. Upon reading Larkin’s letters, he discovers an even deeper connection between his poetry and Orwell’s fiction: a treatment of the world as a “mean and chilly and cheerless place, where it is extraordinarily difficult to have sex, let alone to feel yourself in love.”
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