At The Fort Knox Of Uranium, With Bottles Of Blood

Fairly amazing story by Dan Zak on a nun and two male companions who breached security at a nuclear facility in the name of God:

The devil was just over Pine Ridge.

From the deserted parking lot on the edge of town, the three servants of God looked into darkness.

They clicked on their flashlights, pushed through the initial thicket of brush and began their trek, aiming for the black wooded slope.

First, the house painter: bearded, calm, quiet.

Second, the Catholic nun: gentle, grandmotherly, short of breath.

Third, the drifter: alert, intense, shouldering supplies.

They crept across the marshy field, led by some combination of God and Google Maps. Behind them was the city of Oak Ridge, Tenn., 30 minutes west of Knoxville. On the other side of Pine Ridge was Bear Creek Valley — cradle of the Y-12 National Security Complex, the “Fort Knox of Uranium,” birthplace of the heart of the atomic bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima 67 years earlier.

It was, the house painter would later recall, as if the Almighty were guiding each step, across 1,000 feet of open field and up an embankment.

Behind The Wheel

Konrad Marshall: My week at the wheel begins in darkness, at 3.50am on a Monday on an industrial side street in Richmond, out the front of a small taxi depot opposite a panel shop and a dumpling factory.

I’m a little nervous about my first shift. Such apprehension is not unexpected. The taxi company I work for provides a handout designed to walk virgin cabbies through their lonely beginnings – a leaflet entitled: It’s my first shift! What do I do?

I should know exactly what to do. I recently finished 12 days of intensive ”taxi school” training in an old shopfront office in Clifton Hill. I know all the rules and statutes that govern cabbies. (Did you know it’s a $153 fine for a driver to be out of uniform?) I am familiar with the on-board MT-Data computer system and EFTPOS terminal. I’ve passed every road test and written assessment, and studied the street directory as a medical intern might study Gray’s Anatomy. I am now a master of the Melway – a qualified, registered metropolitan taxi driver.

With New Arrest, A Strange Turn

Matthew Teague: TUPELO, Miss. — Federal agents of all sorts invaded northeast Mississippi several days ago, on a mission: Find the man who sent a poison-laced letter to the president. But the United States government quickly found itself entangled, once again, in a misunderstood land dominated by squabbling tribes and petty vengeances.

Agents first arrested an Elvis impersonator, released him, then on Saturday arrested his nemesis, a karate instructor. Gradually investigators concluded that what they had descended upon was probably less about the president — or the U.S. senator and retired state judge who also received letters — than a serious case of indigenous bickering.

That shocks no one here. “Tupelo is a kaleidoscope,” said sociologist Mark Franks, who grew up in nearby Booneville. There are true geniuses walking the streets of Tupelo, he said, and incredibly wealthy, generous people. But also, “every wall-eyed uncle and ‘yard cousin’ — just referencing the local pejorative — makes it into Tupelo, Miss. It creates a peculiar culture.”

The Life And Legend Of Chris Kyle

Another ebook you should by, from our friend Michael Mooney. So much to read, so little time.

Journalist Michael Mooney reveals the life story of Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, the American Sniper, from his childhood up through his death in February 2013.

A subject that continues to capture the attention of the American public, Kyle’s full story has yet to be told. His heroism and reuptation in the military service earned him the nickname “The Devil of Ramadi” among insurgents, and his impact extended beyond that after he came home, through his work with fellow veterans.

Mooney also sheds light on the life of the man who killed Kyle, a veteran suffering from PTSD, and interviews those close to Kyle.

A natural follow-up and honest look at the life of a man whose memorial service brought thousands of people to Cowboys Stadium–the most celebrated war hero of our time.

The Big Race

Our pal Michael Brick delivers a Kindle Single. Buy it.

When a mysterious military vet lures hundreds of bikers on a ludicrously dangerous transcontinental motorcycle ride, he draws in a Sioux shaman, a British financier and a Hollywood auteur with helicopters and private jets.

But Big Jim has a far more ambitious agenda. And it will take them all to a reckoning with the heart of America.

In this rollicking true story, Michael Brick chases the Hoka Hey Motorcycle Challenge from Arizona to the Pine Ridge Reservation, with a brief interlude in Las Vegas.

(Thanks, Todd)

Along The Route, A New Kind Of Heartbreak

Dan Barry: HOPKINTON, Mass.

It all starts here, as Hopkinton likes to say. And last week, once again, thousands of marathoners formed a block of Main Street determination that stretched past the Town Common’s spring grass, and the Korean Presbyterian Church’s white spire, and the public library offering brief amnesty for overdue items, and the Lovely Lady salon, on and on.

But the start of this never-completed race now seems from the distant past, after all that followed. The deadly finish-line explosions. The tense manhunt and unnerving lockdown. The killing and wounding of police officers. And, finally, the shootout death of one suspect and the capture of the other, found bloodied and cowering in a boat in someone’s yard, just 25 miles and so far from here.

What motivated the bombing suspects — two young immigrant brothers of Chechen descent and Muslim faith, living New England lives — has yet to be revealed. At least in part, their intent was to disrupt exactly what events like the Boston Marathon celebrate: the American given, as found along a 26.2-mile stretch of Massachusetts pavement.



Attention longform newspaper writers — Big news from the Mayborn:
In an effort to encourage narrative nonfiction storytelling at newspapers across America, the Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference and The Dallas Morning News are launching a new writing contest this year. The Best American Newspaper Narrative Writing Contest will award prizes to three long-form narrative nonfiction pieces previously published in daily U.S. newspapers or on the newspapers’ websites.
Newspaper reporters and editors may submit one to three narratives published between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31, 2012, including narratives that are part of a series.
The first-place winner will receive $5,000 and free registration to attend the 2013 Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference, which will be held July 19-21 (Friday-Sunday) at the Hilton DFW Lakes Executive Conference Center in Grapevine, Texas. The contest’s second-place winner will receive $2,000 and the third-place winner $1,000. The three winning narratives and three runners up will be published in print and e-book form in an anthology, “The Best American Newspaper Narratives.”
All submissions to the Best American Newspaper Narrative Writing Contest must be postmarked and sent electronically in word and pdf format no later than June 1 (Saturday). The winners will be notified by e-mail on June 15 (Saturday). Editors and writers may submit a short cover letter with each entry, explaining the challenges of producing the story and readers’ reactions to it after it was published.
For more information about the contest, contact contest coordinator Tasha Tsiaperas at or 469-387-6985. For more information on the Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference, contact Jo Ann Ballantine at 940-565-4778 or