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Writing Worth Reading

The Tale Of The North Pond Hermit

Christopher Thomas Knight disappeared into the woods of New England in 1986 and never came out, until police caught him stealing food from a holiday home last year and took him to jail. “He was an uncontacted tribe of one”. For 27 years he never made a telephone call, held a conversation, drove a car or spent money. “When I mentioned Thoreau, who spent two years at Walden, Chris dismissed him with a single word: dilettante(7,500 words)

Australia’s Aboriginals

Portrait an Aboriginal village, and of its matriarch, Batumbil. “She does not like sand flies and she has no qualms about killing them. But she does believe she’s related to them.” Diet includes sea turtle, dugong, tree worms. “During the two weeks I’m in the bush, two people are eaten by crocodiles, a seven-year-old girl and a nine-year-old boy. I express my grief about this to Batumbil, but she remains unperturbed. These things happen” (4,886 words)

Stranded On The Roof Of The World

Life among the Kyrgyz nomads of the Wakhan Corridor in north-east Afghanistan. “Their land consists of two long, glacier-carved valleys, called pamirs, stashed deep within the great mountains. The wind is furious. Crops are impossible to grow. The temperature can drop below freezing 340 days a year. Many Kyrgyz have never seen a tree”

Tibet’s Golden ‘Worm’

Thousands of Tibetan yak herders who once lived in poverty now own motorcycles, flat-screen TVs and iPhones. How? It’s all down to yartsa gunbu — a rare fungus, with supposed medicinal properties

Uncatchable

Robber, con artist, plane hijacker, escaped prisoner, domestic terrorist. George Wright is all of the above. He spent 41 years on the run. Until police trapped him in Portugal. But there was still time for one last great escape

Best Of 2011: The Blind Man Who Taught Himself To See

The story of Daniel Kish and how he taught himself to “see” like a dolphin, using echolocation. “He can hear a building 1,000 feet away, a tree from 30 feet, a person from six feet.” No colour but he can “see” round corners

Best Of 2011: Here Be Monsters

Epic tale of three boys found in a dinghy in the middle of the Pacific. “They had no food, no water, no clothing, no fishing gear, no life vests, and no first-aid kit. They were close to death. They had been missing for 51 days”

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