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William Langewiesche

23 articles
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The Human Factor

On the crash of Air France Flight 447.

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A Sea Story

The Estonia was carrying 989 passengers when it sank in 30-foot seas on its way across the Baltic in September 1994. More than 850 lost their lives. The ones who survived acted quickly and remained calm.

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The Crash of EgyptAir 990

Investigating a pilot’s choice and the death of 217 people.

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The Chaos Company

Embedded with G4S, the world’s largest private army.

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What Lies Beneath

Exploring the vast underground world of New York City with three of the people who know it best.

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The Man Who Pierced the Sky

On Felix Baumgartner and his 24-mile jump.

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The Expendables

Life in the French Foreign Legion.

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The Million-Dollar Nose

A profile of wine critic Robert Parker.

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The Camorra Never Sleeps

The enduring system of organized crime in Naples.

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How to Get a Nuclear Bomb

Looking for holes in the world’s nuclear security.

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Slam and Jam

Inside the world of air-traffic controllers.

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The Point of No Return (Part 2)

Did A.Q. Khan sell nuclear secrets on the black market? The fame had unbalanced him. He was subjected to a degree of public acclaim rarely seen in the West—an extreme close to idol worship, which made him hungry for more. Money seems never to have been his obsession, but it did play a role.

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The Wrath of Khan (Part 1)

The unlikely ascent of A.Q. Khan, the scientist who gave Pakistan the Bomb, and his suspicious fall from grace.

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The Wave-Maker

In 1998, at age 45, Ken Bradshaw surfed the tallest wave in recorded history.

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Eden: A Gated Community

What happened when the founder of North Face and Esprit bought a chunk of Chile the size of a small state, intending to live with a select group inside it and turn it case study for ecological preservation. It turned out, however, that Chileans didn’t really like that idea.

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The Shipbreakers

On a desolate, six-mile stretch of Indian beachfront, the bulk of the world’s big ships are dismantled for scrap. Though a ship is usually worth over $1 million in steel, the margins are low, the leftovers are toxic, and the labor—which employs huge numbers of India’s poor—is wildly dangerous.

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The Distant Executioner

The interior life of a sniper, the most misunderstood icon of the modern military.

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The Mega-Bunker of Baghdad

Foreign policy as architecture; how embassies went from lavish social hubs to reinforced strongholds.

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The Pirate Latitudes

A blow by blow account of the seizure of a French cruise ship by Somali pirates.

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House of War

The bloody, often surreal, fight for Kosovo’s independence was led by a man moonlighting as a roofer in Switzerland.

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City of Fear

How PCC, once an inmate soccer team and now Brazil’s most notorious prison gang, coordinated seven days of riots throughout São Paulo using mobile phones.

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Jungle Law

It’s the biggest environmental lawsuit in history. The people of Lago Agrio, an oil-rich area in the Ecuadorean Amazon, are suing Chevron for $6 billion after decades of spills. The case has been underway since 1993.

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The Devil at 37,000 Feet

There were so many ways the two planes could have avoided the collision. The odds were so slim. But high above the Amazon in 2006, a combination of technology and human fallibility brought them together.