Andy Ward Picks His Favorite Articles
Andy Ward, this week’s Longform Podcast guest, was an editor at GQ and Esquire for fourteen years, working with George Saunders, David Sedaris, Jeanne Marie Laskas and many more along the way. Here are his favorite articles from that era:
Tent City, U.S.A.
A field study, in these Hard Times, of the Homeless (as observed in the H Street Encampment, Fresno, California). Being an examination of who they are, how they think, and what they do.
The Long Shadow of War
As a young soldier in Vietnam, Cecil Ison saw something, something so horrific that he buried the memory of it for thirty years and swore he’d never allow it to surface again. Then, on March 20, 2003—the day after we started bombing Iraq—the past leapt up and grabbed him.
The Perfect Fire
It started with a candle in an abandoned warehouse. It ended with temperatures above 3,000 degrees and the men of the Worcester Fire department in a fight for their lives.
Tuesdays With Saddam
Specialist Sean O’Shea guarded the most high-profile prisoner in U.S. history.
Why do we even have coal mines? That question is what led Jeanne Marie Laskas to spend a few weeks 500 feet belowground, getting to know the men behind the invisible economy this country couldn’t live without.
The Wronged Man
Twenty-two years after being sent to prison for an unspeakable crime he did not commit, Calvin Willis walked out a free man, the 138th American exonerated by DNA evidence. He has won his freedom, yes, but how does a falsely accused man reclaim his life?
Once upon a time—1975, actually, in Cambodia—there was a regime so evil that it created an antisociety where torture was currency and music, books, and love were abolished. This regime ruled for four years and murdered nearly 2 million of its citizens, a quarter of the population. The perversion was so extreme, the acts so savage, that three decades later, the country still finds itself reeling.
Will You Be My Black Friend?
Sure, we may elect a black president this month. And yeah, Oprah has all kinds of white ladies in her audience. But in real life, it seems the older you get, the less chance you have of being friends with someone who is not in your racial demographic. Can a nice white boy make some black friends if he puts his mind to it? Devin Friedman posts an ad on Craigslist to find out.
The Book of Me
If you could see into your future, would you want to? If you could know whether you’re going to contract Alzheimer’s, or if you’re likely to battle cancer or die of heart disease, would you want to? Last summer Richard Powers decided he did and became one of nine people on earth to have his entire genome sequenced. Here, a glimpse into his—and your—future.
Casualty of War
Colin Powell and his inner circle on the difficulty of being diplomatic in a “my way or the highway” administration.
Don Zimmer's Life on the Plate
He has fungo bats that are older than Derek Jeter. He has come as close to seeing it all as a baseball man can possibly come. Now he’s in his fifty-third consecutive season in the dugout, and life has never been sweeter.
There, in the toilet, was the absolute biggest piece of work I have ever seen.