Friday, December 26, 2014

Great Reads From The Wall Street Journal. Sherpas, Shawshank & Immunotherapy

China’s Left-Behind Children Bear Grown-Up Burdens
In some of China’s poorest regions, millions of adults have left their villages in search of work, leaving behind young children who must fend for themselves. About 61 million Chinese children—one of every five in the world’s most populous nation—haven’t seen one or both parents for at least three months, according to the All-China Women’s Federation, a Communist Party advocacy group. The total has grown so big that the children are widely known as left-behind kids. (Jan. 17)
Inside the Showdown Atop Pimco, the World’s Biggest Bond Firm
Pimco CEO Mohamed El-Erian decided to leave the huge bond firm in March after clashing with co-founder Bill Gross. Behind the departure: a high-pressure work environment that turned less collegial, a deteriorating relationship between the two senior executives and decisions by Mr. Gross that confused some employees. (Feb. 25)
Against the Wind: One of the Greatest Comebacks in Sports History
The America’s Cup, first awarded in 1851, is usually a lopsided contest. The 2013 Cup was expected to be humdrum but turned into one of the most remarkable ever. An inside account of how Oracle Team USA and its Australian-born skipper snatched victory from almost certain defeat. (March 1)
For the Sherpas of Everest, a Perilous Life on the Edge
For decades, climbers from across the globe have hired Sherpas, an ethnic group settled in the high Himalayan valleys of Nepal, to help them reach Mount Everest’s brutal 29,000-foot summit, the pinnacle of so many adventurers’ aspirations. And for nearly as long—with the innumerable perils of high-altitude mountaineering—Sherpas have tempted fate for their clients’ goals and the survival of their families. (May 23)
The Shawshank Residuals
Twenty years after it was released and flopped, “The Shawshank Redemption” has turned in a money machine. “Shawshank” was an underwhelming box-office performer when it hit theaters 20 years ago, but then it began to redeem itself, finding an audience on home video and later becoming a fixture on cable TV. The film has taken a near-mystical hold on viewers that shows no sign of abating. (May 23)
Treat Veterans With Respect, Not Pity
Too many Americans assume that troops who served in Iraq and Afghanistan must be traumatized. War subjects some of its participants to more than any person can bear, and it destroys them. War makes others stronger. For most, it leaves a complex legacy, writes Phil Klay, a veteran and award-winning short-story writer. And though many veterans appreciate the well-meaning sentiments behind even the most misdirected pity, all veterans deserve a little less pity and a little more respect. (May 24)
Bashar al-Assad’s Grim Catalog of Death
A forensic photographer working for Syria’s military police cataloged at least 10,000 corpses between 2011 and mid-2013, U.S. officials believe. Last year, he defected to the West. His trove of photos, now in the hands of U.S. law-enforcement agencies, provides fresh details about Syria’s crackdown on its political opponents and the central role of a Damascus hospital in processing bodies and documenting the deaths. (July 25)
Portrait of a Prodigy: Is Matthew Aucoin the Next Leonard Bernstein?
At 24, Matthew Aucoin has become one of the most sought-after young voices in classical music. He also is one of the most ambitious, setting himself the goal of transforming opera into something other than musical spinach for a new generation. He is as close as the art form comes to a triple threat, racking up accomplishments as a composer, conductor and pianist. (July 18)
For Steve Ballmer’s Next Act, a $2 Billion Impulse Buy
Steve Ballmer, Microsoft’s ex-CEO, charmed Shelly Sterling to buy the Los Angeles Clippers, becoming a rookie basketball mogul and one of the highest-profile owners in the NBA. Mr. Ballmer, in a series of exclusive interviews during his first week with the Clippers, told of the behind-the-scenes drama leading to his transformation into a rookie sports mogul. (Aug. 26)
A 1980s Corporate Raider Keeps the SEC at Bay
Former corporate raider Paul Bilzerian says he hasn’t lost his taste for battling his enemies in the U.S. government. But 25 years after Mr. Bilzerian became a Wall Street felon, the Securities and Exchange Commission is quitting the fight, winding down its quest to collect a $62 million civil judgment against him for securities fraud. The tally from a court-appointed SEC receiver: about $3.7 million collected, and $8.6 million spent in the effort to collect. (Sept. 17)
How American Meb Keflezighi Is Shaking Up the Marathon World
This past April Meb Keflezighi became the first American man to win the Boston Marathon since 1983, a feat virtually nobody saw coming. He finished fourth at the 2012 Olympics, the highest finish by an American male since Mr. Keflezighi took silver at the 2004 Olympics—managing to peak at an age when most marathoners have retired. Unlike many of his peers, he trains alone. He offered a glimpse inside his training regimen. (Oct. 31)
Medical Device Sidelined Too Late to Save Some
While new scrutiny over the power morcellator may save lives, women are paying a grim price for decisions made before the alarms rang about the hysterectomy tool. Dozens of cases have come to light this year of women whose cancers rapidly worsened after morcellation. The biggest U.S. morcellator company has halted sales and many hospitals have curtailed their use. (Nov. 22)
My Great-Great-Grandfather and an American Indian Tragedy
The Sand Creek Massacre of 1864 scandalized a nation still fighting the Civil War and planted seeds of distrust and sorrow among Native Americans that endure to this day. A personal investigation. (Nov. 24)
Super-Survivors Fuel Cancer Hope: How the Promise of Immunotherapy Is Transforming Oncology
A growing group of survivors is fueling hopes that the immune system can be used to turn the tide against some of the most lethal and resistant forms of cancer. (Dec. 5)

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