The Best 30 Longform Articles of 300 I Read

Since 2016 I started reading and scrupulously tracking all the longfrom articles I read. Longform is any essay or article over 3000 words. It allowed me to then do this : Nominate a few outstanding longforms that I think more people should read. Because they are just so good and well worth the time invested in reading it.

2 years ago I highlighted the best of the original 300 longforms I read in 2 posts. Post 1 and Post 2. Recently I just finished another 300 in the 2 years since the last update and from the latest 300, here below are the best 30 longforms. Below each I outline the context, the web url and why it was so good. Enjoy!

A brilliant speech On Concentration, Solitude And Leadership. 

Context : This lecture was delivered to the class at the United States Military Academy at West Point in October 2009 by William, an essayist and book critic.

URL : https://theamericanscholar.org/solitude-and-leadership/

I love this LFA because : I have rarely thought about Solitude as an essential component of leadership and William brilliantly articulate WHY it is so crucial.
The Most Gullible Man In Cambridge

Context : A Harvard Law Professor who teaches Harvard student about judgment shows appalingly poor judgment

URL : https://www.thecut.com/2019/07/bruce-hay-paternity-trap-maria-pia-shuman-mischa-haider.html

I love this LFA because : the sheer WTFuckery of this story is amazing. Just…how is this possible ?
E-Mail From Bill

Context : A longform from The New Yorker 1993 this is a a brilliant Profile Of Bill Gates And The Zeitgeist In Late 1993 when the internet was not really a thing yet.

URL : https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/1994/01/10/e-mail-from-bill

I love this LFA because : An amazing profile of Bill Gates and how he was thinking about the future 27 years earlier, well before smartphones and internet became commom
Blood And Soil In Narendra Modi’s India

Context :  The state of Indian politics 73 years after independence. Disturbing.

URL :https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2019/12/09/blood-and-soil-in-narendra-modis-india

I love this LFA because : This LFA gives a grand tour of the rotten state of Indian Civic life and what the end of the shady Congress regime looks like. Spoiler – frying pan to fire
Turkey’s Thirty-Year Coup

Context : What Erdogan is doing in Turkey

URL : https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2016/10/17/turkeys-thirty-year-coup

I love this LFA because : If the LFA before gives a give overview of India, this one does the same for Turkey, the supposed bridge between East and West
THE HUMAN FACTOR

Context : How And Why Air France Flight 447 Crashed over the atlantic ocean

URL : https://www.vanityfair.com/news/business/2014/10/air-france-flight-447-crash

I love this LFA because : this article was so gripping i think i was holding my breath as I was reading it. After rewading it I now think what a AVOIDABLE tragedy this one was.
The Story Of Jamal Khashoggi’s Murder In Istanbul 

Context : How MBS and KSA planned and executed the murder of an old journalist

URL : https://www.insider.com/the-murder-of-jamal-khashoggi-2019-10

I love this LFA because : this graphic article truly helped me understand the real henious nature of the KSA regime
The Jungle Prince Of Delhi

Context : A Mentally Unstable Woman conned a country AND her family

URL : https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/22/world/asia/the-jungle-prince-of-delhi.html

I love this LFA because : Just an unbelievable tale about a sad family of old in Delhi
What Is Amazon?

Context : A Superb Breakdown Of Walmart And Amazon By Zack Kanter, Founder Of Stedi.

URL : https://zackkanter.com/2019/03/13/what-is-amazon/

I love this LFA because : this LFA truly helped me understand what the giant was really about.
What The Hell Is Going On? – An essay by blogger David Perell  

Context : An Essay On How the G7 countries Got Here

URL : https://www.perell.com/blog/what-the-hell-is-going-on

I love this LFA because : A really good summary of the major changes in the west over the course of a century.
Free Speech And The Necessity Of Discomfort.

Context : This is the text of a lecture delivered at the University of Michigan on Tuesday.

URL : https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/22/opinion/free-speech-discomfort.html?

I love this LFA because : Free Speech is a concept in most people’s head, like the color purple but this is a a Fantastic Speech about exactly what it is and why free speech is so critical in a democracy. Most countries, inclusing UK and India don’t have it.
Japan’s Rent-A-Family Industry 

Context :  Some Japansese Who Are Short On Relatives Can Hire A Husband, A Mother, A Grandson.

URL : https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2018/04/30/japans-rent-a-family-industry

I love this LFA because : A look into a facinating niche business that can ONLY happen in Japan
The Crash Of Egyptair 990

Context : Just why ahd how Egyptair 990 crashed

URL : https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2001/11/the-crash-of-egyptair-990/302332/

I love this LFA because : An amazing essay of both the crash and the culture and country it originated from
The Unbelievable Life And Death Of Michael C. Ruppert

Context : I saw thie guy in a documentary on Peak Oil and I HAD TO KNOWmore about what we was about.

URL : https://www.theverge.com/2014/7/22/5881501/the-unbelievable-life-and-death-of-michael-c-ruppert

I love this LFA because : this is a tereffic profile of a tragic man
“It’s Time To Make A Deal”

Context : Texas oilman Boone Pickens is staking A 25-Year Career On One Wild Roll Of The Dice In 1982

URL : https://www.texasmonthly.com/articles/its-time-to-make-a-deal/

I love this LFA because : You want to know America did business in the 80s – here is the real deal
10 Important Lessons We Learned From The 2010s

Context : Blogger Mark Manson’s take on the 2010s lessons

URL : https://markmanson.net/10-important-lessons-from-the-2010s

I love this LFA because : A top 10 list to succinctly summarize the decade gone by
Cain And Abel

Context : The Bitter Sibling Rivalry Burning Up An $800 Million Louisiana Family Dynasty.

URL : https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2019/06/the-bitter-sibling-rivalry-at-knight-oil-tools.html

I love this LFA because : A true WTF story about how money sometimes is a curse and not a blessing to some families
How An Ex-Cop Jacobson Rigged Mcdonald’s Monopoly Game And Stole Millions. 

Context : Exactly what it says on the article title

URL : https://www.thedailybeast.com/how-an-ex-cop-rigged-mcdonalds-monopoly-game-and-stole-millions?ref=scroll

I love this LFA because : Another WTF story on a US scammer that makes you marvel at human nature
How Qatar Bungled Up

Context : Kidnapped Royalty Become Pawns In Iran’s Deadly Plot and Qatar pays the price in every sense

URL : https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/14/magazine/how-a-ransom-for-royal-falconers-reshaped-the-middle-east.html

I love this LFA because : It helped me understand why what I saw in that movie Syriana was NOT fiction but daily reality there.
London Bridge Is Down

Context : This then is the Secret Plan For The Days After The Queen’s Death

URL : https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/mar/16/what-happens-when-queen-elizabeth-dies-london-bridge

I love this LFA because : The dealth of the Queen is well planned for. And how!
Hip Hop Music Producer Scott Storch Raked In $Millions And Then Snorted His Way To Ruin

Context : Someone who could have been a music legend ends up in ruin thanks,again, to drugs

URL : https://www.miaminewtimes.com/music/ultra-music-festival-partners-with-siriusxm-for-post-cancellation-radio-channel-11597594

I love this LFA because : It is a text book case of why drugs are always bad news
On The Megapolis That Is Pearl River Delta – The Largest Contiguous Urban Region In The World By 2030

Context : This is going to be the busiest human enclave in a decade. Get to know it.

URL : https://www.timeout.com/hong-kong/en-hongkong/the-pearl-river-delta-megacity-051716
http://www.visualcapitalist.com/pearl-river-delta-megacity-2020/

I love this LFA because : It truly brought to life for me why China was going to be where the action was this century
PONZI SCHEMES, PRIVATE YACHTS, AND A MISSING $250 MILLION IN CRYPTO: THE STRANGE TALE OF QUADRIGA

Context : When Canadian blockchain whiz Gerald Cotten died unexpectedly last year, hundreds of millions of dollars in investor funds vanished into the crypto ether. But when the banks, the law, and the forces of Reddit tried to track down the cash, it turned out the young mogul may not have been who he purported to be.

URL : https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2019/11/the-strange-tale-of-quadriga-gerald-cotten

I love this LFA because : A true modern day scam with great twists and details
Promethea Unbound

Context : A child genius raised in poverty, she wanted to change the world. A horrific act of violence nearly destroyed her.

URL : https://magazine.atavist.com/promethea-unbound-child-genius-montana

I love this LFA because : An amazing story of when Genius meets Bad Luck
The Basecamp Guide To Internal Communication

Context : How project software company Basecamp communicates internally

URL : https://m.signalvnoise.com/the-basecamp-guide-to-internal-communication/

I love this LFA because : This is one of the most concise and brilliant how-to on communicating I have read
The Inside Story Of Trump’s Shambolic Transition Team – Michael Lewis

Context : Michael Lewis, author of Moneyball and The Big Short, reveals how Trump’s bungled presidential transition set the template for his time in the White House

URL : https://www.theguardian.com/news/2018/sep/27/this-guy-doesnt-know-anything-the-inside-story-of-trumps-shambolic-transition-team

I love this LFA because : It’s Micheal Lewis. Expect 24 Carat Quality writing as always. America deserves better. We all do.
The Man On The Operating Table

Context : Baynazar Mohammad Nazar was a husband and a father of four — and a patient killed during the attack on the MSF hospital in Kunduz. This is his story.

URL : https://foreignpolicy.com/2015/12/03/the-man-on-the-operating-table-msf-hospital-kunduz-afghanistan-us-airstrike/

I love this LFA because : A heartbreaking take of a man in the wrong place at the wrong time
The Toxoplasma Of Rage

Context : Why is Online so toxic ? SSC’s Scott explains brilliantly

URL : https://slatestarcodex.com/2014/12/17/the-toxoplasma-of-rage/

I love this LFA because : An amazing analysis of why and how the culture war will only get worse over time
The US Gambler Who Cracked The Hong Kong Horse-Racing Code Using Probability Theory

Context : Bill Benter did the impossible: He wrote an algorithm that couldn’t lose at the track. Close to a billion dollars later, he tells his story for the first time.

URL : https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2018-05-03/the-gambler-who-cracked-the-horse-racing-code

I love this LFA because : When brains meets meticulous planning, this is what you get. A gripping story well told.
Worst Roommate Ever

Context : Jamison Bachman’s Former Not-So-Bright Roommates Share Their Horror Stories About A damn twisted Man

URL : http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2018/02/jamison-bachman-worst-roommate-ever.html

I love this LFA because : Having had my shre of weird roomies in my 20s, this one showed me what WEIRD really was. OMG kinda read.

The Best 20 Longform Articles I read

Over the last few years, after reading 300 plus articles/blog posts/columns online, here are my current favourite 20. Don’t waste time reading and consuming low value low insight info-junkfood in books and newspapers that skims a issue, usually of marginal importance. That is bad for you in  every way. What you want to do is consume just enough to stay very well informed. Nothing over the needed daily mental TDEE infocalories.

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All the 20 are better as quality reads than a majority of the books I have read in the same period. Some 50x so.

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Below each one of the recommend article I have written a brief synopsis on why you should read it and what it is about. You could read them all in one long bank holiday weekend. They are filled with terrific insights and/or great narratives and will likely may you re-think some of your cherished mental models and theories about people, institutions and the zeitgeist. And it’st that what reading is supposed to do at its core?

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All articles have embedded hyperlinks that will take you straight to the cigar.

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‘A Generation In Japan Faces A Lonely Death’
This one opened my uninformed eyes to what mass aging in a developed country like Japan looks like. A tad depressing and morbidly riveting. The Japanese author does a fantastic job unpacking the long lived lives.

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Cocaine Incorporated : Fantastic Primer On The Drug Business In Mexico
After seeing the brilliant movie Sicario, this is the article to read about what really happens across the US border.

Farnam Street’S The Knowledge Project Interviews Naval Ravikant
Naval is the New Age Tech Guru to follow if you want to understand how very smart people approach the big questions of life and work. This interview is densely packed with gems like this:

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Find Your Beach – Zadie Smith On Life In Manhattan As An Artist
Here we all are, on edge and frayed. 2018 and living in big soulless cities. Zadie captures the zeitgeist in this article.

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Free Speech And The Necessity Of Discomfort 
A Fantastic Speech By writer Bret Stephens Of NYT making a superb case for the defence of free speech and why it needs defending.

Heavy : The Short Life Of Robert Earl Hughes Of Tiny Fishhook, Illinois
This heartbreaking article on a nice big guy from back in the day was the closest I came to tears while reading something online. A deep profile of a deeply nice person who happened to be fat.

How ‘Broadcast News’ Predicted Journalism As We Know It
A superb deconstruction of a movie, a profession and the news zeitgeist. Until I read this piece I thought movie criticism could never be made penetrating or profound by anyone other than Roger Ebert. this article proved me wrong.

How Do Families Around The World Spend Their Vacations?

This stunning photo-essay forced me to realise just how much the vacations my friends, my family and my wife and I take are definitely not how most of the world does theirs.

 

How Tiger Woods Imploded
The downward spiral of Tiger Woods captured in a way that makes you realize how excess money and fame without a wise mentor are double edged swords.

Interview Of Merlin Mann, Productivity Guru

Mann’s 43folders blog was a favourite productivity related pitstop of mine back in the day and this deep interview lays bare his sharp insights on life and work.

Lifeboat Ethics: The Case Against Helping The Poor By Garrett Hardin, 1974
This is the example of a dated article that seems more relevant as we all head towards sure Ecocide by 2050. Is Hardin right ? Maybe, but his point of view needs a solemn hearing.

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On The Amazing Rise And Fall Of A Rodent Utopia

One of those bizarre essays about an experiment that you know is telling you something important about human society, although you frustratingly realize you are unable to grasp the full scary implications of what it is telling you oh so subtly.

Quitting The Paint Factory By Mark Slouka
A searing take on faux busyness and why we need to take a breather.

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Ray Kurzweil On The Law Of Accelerating Returns (March 2001)
17 years ago a legit genius predicted where we would be heading in the next few decades and this essay that he wrote is prescient. I hope he is right.

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The Beggar CEO And Sucker Culture
Aimed at those of us reluctantly running the corporate rat race, trained for it since kindergarten, this article starkly tells us why we are deluded and what we should do instead.

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The Uninhabitable Earth

This is the scariest article I have read in a while and it made me question if planning for retirement was even worth it.

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The Yankee Comandante
A superb yarn about how a man got caught up in the promise of a socialist utopia and saw Orwell’s Animal Farm play out in front of his own eyes.

What Really Happened Aboard Air France 447

What a nail biting read this was, on a tragic crash that was caused by humans being human and doing human things under extreme stress.

What You’ll Wish You’d Known – By Paul Graham, Unsaid Speech To Students
The speech was so good, so eye opening, so necessary that I forced my mostly young team to read it, if only because it was packed to the brim with gems on how to start and navigate the work world. A great primer.

Why The Scariest Nuclear Threat May Be Coming From Inside The White House
The formidable, awe-inspiring Micheal Lewis on how good leaders can improve institutions but only slowly but bad leaders can destroy institutions rapidly.

Meditations On Moloch
I saved the best for the last. This read is perhaps one of the most profound writings I have stumbled across. A life altering essay that helped me understand why humanity has ended up in the current terrible status quo. It argues that, rather than by malice and greed, the problems our world faces are mostly driven by powerful evolutionary forces, (poetically personified as Ginsberg’s poem “Moloch“), that no one controls, and which wants us, and everything we value destroyed.

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So there it is. Read them all and you will soon see the map in your head is not the territory in front of your eyes. It’s a bit like seeing this ad below for the Budapest Zoo and then really really seeing it.

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