This weekly column is The Daily Beast's contribution to the growing longreads community on Twitter, where fans of longform journalism collect and share their favorite stories. Follow along through the hashtag #longreads, and visit Longreads.com and Longform.org for suggestions throughout the week. To take these stories on the go, we recommend using smartphone applications such as Instapaper or Read It Later. You can download either at your mobile phone's application store. To send us suggestions, tweet the story to @ thedailybeast on Twitter with the hashtag #longreads.
1. "King David's War"
Michael Hastings, Rolling Stone
General David Petraeus was the author of the U.S. military's failing strategy in Afghanistan, but the infamous dismissal (thanks to a revealing article by Hastings) of General Stanley McChrystal put him in charge of that very effort. Petraeus' mission is to make Washington forget about the Obama administration's 2011 deadlines for troop withdrawals and, as he wrote in his Princeton thesis, control the way the world sees the war instead of actually winning it.
2. "Shaken-Baby Syndrome Faces New Questions in Court"
Emily Bazelon, The New York Times Magazine
Since a brutal animal experiment in the 1960s, babies with certain types of brain injuries have been assumed to have been shaken by their caretaker or a parent, often leading to criminal convictions. But science is casting doubt on the idea that shaking alone can cause severe brain damage or death, and the uncertainty is leading to a new skepticism about old assumptions.
3. "Think Again: American Decline"
Gideon Rachman, Foreign Policy
Americans have heard scary stories about their decline for decades now, but this time says Gideon Rachman, the Financial Times’s foreign affairs columnist, reports of China's rise are not exaggerated. The Chinese economy will overtake the U.S. as the world's largest in less than 20 years, and force the U.S. to confront a new global order where it no longer calls the shots.
4. "How Cairo, U.S. Were Blindsided by Revolution"
Charles Levinson, Margaret Coker and Jay Solomon, The Wall Street Journal
Even after the Egyptian people concluded last November's elections were fraudulent and a bombing at a Coptic church killed 30 people, President Hosni Mubarak's regime failed to see how angry his subjects had become. And even after the uprising in Tunisia inspired Cairo's first demonstrators, an Egyptian military delegation met with Washington leaders with hardly a mention of the looming crisis. As the WSJ reports, it took days before the Obama administration had formulated enough of a position to pressure Mubarak into transitioning out of power.
5. "Cracking the Scratch Lottery Code"
Jonah Lehrer, Wired
Mohan Srivastava, a geological statistician in Toronto, had just won $3 on a cast-aside lottery ticket when a voice in his head told him the ticket's mass-produced tic-tac-toe game had to have an algorithm behind it. The algorithm was ultimately so simple he taught his 8-year-old daughter how to crack it. And even more surprising, the same flaw showed up in various tic-tac-toe lottery tickets all across North America.
6. "When Irish Eyes Are Crying"
Michael Lewis, Vanity Fair
The Ireland of the 2000s was a nearly unrecognizable place: real estate prices had skyrocketed, and even immigrant workers had brand new cars. Everyone received virtually unlimited credit for anything they wanted. But a lone scholar who studied obscure Ice Age economies began investigating the matter, and wrote a series of op-eds predicting, in detail, that the bubble would burst and that Irish banks would fail. He was roundly ignored until his dire prophecies came true. Michael Lewis visits a country plunged into a deep economic misery, interviewing economists, bankers, and politicians to discover how Ireland's crazed credit scheme happened.