Weekendish: Best longer reads from the week

Afghanistan Image copyright Other

A collection of some of the best reads from the BBC News website this week, with an injection of your comments.

Glenn Foster was an American engineer who worked in Afghanistan in the 1950s. He was also an amateur cameraman. Throughout his seven-year stay, his 16mm camera was a constant companion. Foster captured Afghan life and landscapes, engineering projects and members of the expat community enjoying themselves (above). In essence, he captured the country in a hopeful moment of its history. He all but gave up making films when he returned to the US, and it wasn't until he had died that his son discovered the extraordinary legacy - hours and hours of footage from a country's history that is all but forgotten. Monica Whitlock tells the story in this long-form essay that includes the original footage. James Hallwood tweets: "History isn't 'over' - things don't inevitably progress. Sad to see Helmand's golden age on BBC - who'd have guessed?" @jimactually adds: "A great piece of history, when technology was the answer to changing societies." Ahmed Sarfaraz ‏tweets: "Quite a bit of sadness in this. One likes to #hope the #Golden #days of #Helmand are yet to come." But Brian Mc thinks there was something missing: "How about reporting that the US dragged Afghanistan back into the stone age by supporting the Mujahadeen in the 80s at a time when Afghanistan was modernising and did nothing for the 6 years the Taliban were in power."

Last gallows

Image copyright Steve Fielding
Image caption Peter Allen and Gwynne Evans, the last to be hanged

Fifty years ago, petty criminals Gwynne Evans and Peter Allen were sentenced to death for killing a man in a bungled burglary. They were the last people to be executed in the UK. It was a time in which the death penalty was delivered with astonishing speed, writes Marek Pruszewicz. The delay between conviction and execution a matter of weeks - the delay between the hangmen entering the cell and death a matter of seconds. Prof David Wilson ‏tweets: "BBC article… seems to imply speed of execution equals humanity. It doesn't. Capital punishment is always barbaric." Devon and Cornwall's Police's Learning & Development Dept adds: "Astonishing that UK still had the death penalty only 50 years ago; hanging people 2 years before World Cup victory!"

Betrayed at high altitude

Image copyright Other
Image caption Amir Mehdi in later years, wearing medals awarded by the Italian government

Amir Mehdi wanted to be the first Pakistani to scale the country's highest peak, K2, and as one of the strongest climbers in the first team to conquer the summit, 60 years ago, he nearly did. Instead he was betrayed by his Italian companions, left to spend a night on the ice without shelter, and was lucky to survive. Shahzeb Jillani travels to the remote Hunza Valley to find out more about the pioneering high-altitude porter. Ross Boardman ‏tweets: "It is amazing that every time a lie is spun to save an ego, the truth still comes out." Paul B. Kennedy tweets: "Ah, nothing like the cutthroat world of high altitude climbing. Ayn Rand would be proud."

Amir Mehdi: Left out to freeze on K2 and forgotten

Keeping it unreal

Image copyright Getty Images

It's an art that is meant to come from the heart. So what happens when a hip hop hit turns out not to have been written by the person who performed it, but by a ghostwriter? Sarah Thompson spoke to Grandmaster Caz and Sauce Money - two rappers who have reached huge audiences with their authentic story-telling, and made other men famous.

We want you as a new recruit

Image copyright Other

For many, it's the defining image of World War One - the imperious, pointing finger of Lord Kitchener exhorting young men to join the armed forces and fight. But the poster which is so often associated with war recruitment was printed only 10,000 times during the war, making up only a small proportion of the 5.7 million official war posters. So why is it so famous now? Adam Eley looks at its legacy.

Solomon hero

Image copyright JFK Library
Image caption Kennedy's United States Navy identification card

One of the two Solomon Islanders who carried a distress message carved on a coconut to help save a young John F Kennedy during World War Two has died. Rob Brown tells the incredible story of how Eroni Kumana came across JFK and his men in his canoe after their patrol boat was sunk by a Japanese destroyer. The survivors had spent a few hours on or around the wreck of the wooden boat, then swam three-and-a-half miles to the nearest island. Accounts from the time say Kennedy towed one of his injured crewmates along, swimming with the strap of his lifejacket between his teeth.

Here are some things we've enjoyed this week from elsewhere around the web:

The story of the world's smallest skyscraper - City Metric

The IBM supercomputer which could replace the loudmouth in your business meetings - Quartz

How a little bit of pessimism goes a long way - Wall Street Journal

The story of the Mormon who embraced her transgender daughter - Atlantic

Can you bribe people thin? - Telegraph expat

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