Every week, I will shine the spotlight on some of the best storytelling in the business and offer my comments. “3 Great Stories of the Week” will post every Monday at 8 AM.
I’ll be honest: I found the coolest story I read this week in an in-flight magazine.
Perhaps I have just been traveling too much.
I have taken two trips, involving six flights, for work in the last two weeks. Eventually I found myself with nothing to read, so I picked up the US Airways in-flight magazine … and I found a gem.
The famed author Andrew Carroll gave the magazine an abridged introduction to his just-released book, Here is There. I found it engrossing. In the article, Carroll recounts a few true but hard-to-believe stories from U.S. history, such as:
- the time the brother of John Wilkes Booth saved the life of the son of Abraham Lincoln
- how a group of Confederate rebels tried unsuccessfully to set Manhattan on fire
Carroll is a terrific storyteller, and I have since purchased Here is There and am awaiting its arrival in the mail. I decided to include his abridged introduction as an honorary great story this week, and — believe it or not — the in-flight magazine version can only be found in virtual magazine format online.
So you too can now experience the joys of getting inspired by an in-flight magazine, completing with the ads for two-karat tanzanite rings and indoor kart racing.
And now, the 3 Great Stories of the week:
Bill Gates: ‘Death is something we really understand extremely well’ (5/17/13, Washington Post Wonkblog): This is a classic example of where a story is best served by a straightforward Q&A format.
Washington Post blogger Ezra Klein goes in-depth with Bill Gates, still the world’s richest person according to Bloomberg News, about his latest ambitious endeavor: the literal eradication of polio across the globe.
But the interview really gets fascinating when Gates discusses the ways in which different countries treat the reality of death. Some of his assertions are simply haunting, such as the following:
When you’re running a poor country health-care system, you can’t treat a year of life as being worth more than, say, $200, $300 or else you’ll bankrupt your health system immediately. So, with very few exceptions, you do nothing for cancer. If you get cancer, you’re going to die.