The Daily Beast’s Best Longreads, Aug 31, 2014

From Israel losing friends and alienating people to shady land deals on the Mosquito Coast, The Daily Beast picks the best journalism from around the web this week.

Friends of IsraelBy Connie Bruck, New YorkerThe lobbying group AIPAC has consistently fought the Obama Administration on policy. Is it now losing influence?

ISIS Isn’t the Real Enemy. The “Game of Thrones” Medieval Mindset That Birthed It Is.By Amir Ahmad Nasr, MediumThe Rise of ISIS, Islam’s Crisis of Modernity, the Dysfunction of the West, and the Dauntingly Urgent Task Ahead.

The Boy with Half a BrainBy Michael Rubino, Indianapolis MonthlyZionsville’s Jeff and Tiernae Buttars surrendered their son William to the most radical procedure in neurosurgery. The grim choice to remove a portion of his brain left everyone changed.

The WitnessBy Pamela Colloff, Texas MonthlyFor more than a decade, it was Michelle Lyons’s job to observe the final moments of death row inmates—but watching 278 executions did not come without a cost.

How plagues really workBy Wendy Orent, Aeon MagazineThe next pandemic will erupt, not from the jungle, but from the disease factories of hospitals, refugee camps and cities.

Murder And Manifest Destiny On The Mosquito Coast By Freda Moon and Tim Stelloh, BuzzFeedFifteen years ago, a mysterious Greek entrepreneur bought and resold a series of tiny islands off the coast of Nicaragua, setting off a bizarre and tragic chain of events that included a reality-TV sensation and allegations of an insidious murder plot. The ensuing chaos brought to light a centuries-old question: Who does land really belong to?

For more great longreads, visit our friends at Longreads.com.