Monday, August 02, 2010

Best Magazine Articles

According to, these are The Top Magazine Seven Articles (Based on the number of times an article is recommended)
****** David Foster Wallace, "Federer As Religious Experience." The New York Times, Play Magazine, August 20, 2006.
***** David Foster Wallace, "Consider the Lobster." Gourmet Magazine, Aug 2004.
***** Neal Stephenson, "Mother Earth, Mother Board: Wiring the Planet." Wired, December 1996. On laying trans-oceanic fiber optic cable.
****** Gay Talese, "Frank Sinatra Has a Cold." Esquire, April 1966.
**** Ron Rosenbaum, "Secrets of the Little Blue Box." Esquire, October 1971. The first and best account of telephone hackers, more amazing than you might believe.
**** Jon Krakauer, "Death of an Innocent: How Christopher McCandless Lost His Way in the Wilds." Outside Magazine, January 1993. Article that became Into the Wild.
**** Edward Jay Epstein, "Have You Ever Tried to Sell a Diamond?" Atlantic Magazine, February 1982. Diamonds, De Beers, monopoly & marketing.
The Full List
Works are arranged in chronological order of appearance.
1960s (and earlier)
* William Hazlitt, "On Common-Place Critics." The Examiner, November 24, 1816. [Ed's note: Republished in Hazlitt's The Round Table: A Collection of Essays on Literature, Men and Manners, Volume 2.]
* Joseph Mitchell, "All You Can Hold for Five Bucks." The New Yorker, April 15, 1939. A brilliant description of the nearly extinct traditional New York "beefsteak" dinner, but almost all of the stories in [Mitchell's] collection Up in the Old Hotelmerit inclusion.
* R. A. Radford, "The Economic Organisation of a P.O.W. Camp." Economica, 1945.
* Vannevar Bush, "As We May Think." Atlantic Magazine, July 1945.
** John Hersey, "Hiroshima." The New Yorker, August 31, 1946.
* Lillian Ross, Profiles, "'How Do You Like It Now, Gentlemen?'," The New Yorker, May 13, 1950. profile of Ernest Hemingway in decline.
* Gay Talese, "Looking for Hemingway." Esquire, 1960. [Ed.'s note: Republished in Talese's The Gay Talese Reader: Portraits and Encounters.]
** John Updike, "Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu." The New Yorker, October 22, 1960.About Ted Williams career framed by his last game. I read it every opening day without fail.
** Norman Mailer, "Superman Comes to the Supermarket." Esquire, November 1960.
* S.L.A. Marshall, "First Wave at Omaha Beach." The Atlantic Monthly, November 1960.
* Hannah Arendt, "Eichmann in Jerusalem." The New Yorker. Part I: February 16, 1963; Part II: February 23, 1963; Part III: March 2, 1963; Part IV: March 9, 1963; Part V: March 16, 1963. [Republished as Arendt's Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil.]
* Susan Sontag, "Notes on 'Camp.'" Partisan Review, 1964.
* Richard Hofstadter, "The Paranoid Style in American Politics." Harper's Magazine, November 1964.
* John McPhee, Profiles, "A Sense of Where You Are." The New Yorker, January 23, 1965. A portrait of Bill Bradley from his Princeton days, and a good analysis of the sport of basketball.
** Tom Wolfe, "The Last American Hero is Junior Johnson. Yes!" Esquire, March 1965.
* Nat Hentoff, "Playboy Interview: Bob Dylan." February 1966.
****** Gay Talese, "Frank Sinatra Has a Cold." Esquire, April 1966.
** John Sack, "M." Esquire, October 1966.
* Joan Didion, "Farewell to the Enchanted City." Saturday Evening Post, January 14, 1967. [Ed.s' note: Reprinted in Didion's anthologySlouching Towards Bethlehem as "Goodby to All that."]
* Hunter S. Thompson, "The 'Hashbury' is the Capital of the Hippies." The New York Times Magazine, Maybe 14, 1967.
* Joan Didion, "Slouching Towards Bethlehem." Saturday Evening Post, September 23, 1967. [Ed.'s note: Reprinted in Didion's anthologySlouching Towards Bethlehem.]
*** Hunter Thompson, "The Kentucky Derby is Decadent and Depraved." Scanlan's Monthly, June 1970.
* Tom Wolfe, "Radical Chic & Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers." New York Magazine, June 8, 1970.
* Norman Mailer, "Ego." Life, March 19, 1971.
**** Ron Rosenbaum, "Secrets of the Little Blue Box." Esquire, October 1971. The first and best account of telephone hackers, more amazing than you might believe.
* Hunter S. Thompson, "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas." Rolling Stone. Part I: November 11, 1971; Part II: November 25, 1971.
* David Felton, "The Lyman Family's Holy Siege of America." Rolling Stone. Part I: December 23, 1971; Part II: January 2, 1972. Rolling Stone for several years in the 70s was, along with Co-Evolution, was the best periodical going. I saw you listed the Patty Hearst story. But for my money the absolute best was this creepy but true story on the Mel Lyman cult.
* Nora Ephron, "A Few Words About Breasts." Esquire, May 1972. [Ed.'s note: Republished in Ephron's Crazy Sald.]
** Stewart Brand, "Space War: Fanatic Life and Symbolic Dearth Among Computer Bums." Rolling Stone, December 7, 1972. Written nearly 40 years ago, this account of virtual realities has all the classic props: midnight hours, geek humor, nerd hubris, and other worldliness.
* Brad Darrach, "The Day Bobbly Blew It." Playboy, July 1973. Republished in Halberstam's The Best American Sports Writing of the Century.
* Howard Kohn and David Weir, "Tania's World: The Inside Story." Rolling Stone, October 23, 1975. About Patty Hearst's kidnapping.
* Lester Bangs, "The Greatest Album Ever Made." Creem, March 1976.
* Robert Scheer, "The Playboy Interview: Jimmy Carter." Playboy, November 1976.
* John McPhee, "Coming into the Country." The New Yorker, June 20, 1977.One of the best articles about Alaska, and Alaskans.
* John McPhee, "Basin and Range (Part I)." The New Yorker, October 20, 1980.Clear and interesting explanations about geology and plate tectonics for the layperson.
* George W.S. Trow, "Within the Context of No Context." The New Yorker, November 17, 1980. Brilliant, eccentric, apocalyptic writing about the nature of the cultural devastation television has wrought.
* Paul Nelson, "The Crackup and Resurrection of Warren Zevon." Rolling Stone, March 19, 1981. Tough, fearless and a very memorable look at Zevon's alcoholism and his attempt at recovery.
**** Edward Jay Epstein, "Have You Ever Tried to Sell a Diamond?" Atlantic Magazine, February 1982. Diamonds, De Beers, monopoly & marketing.
* Marcelle Clements, "The Dog is Us." Rolling Stone, September 2, 1982.
* William Broyles, Jr., "Why Men Love War." Esquire, November 1984.
** George Plimpton, "The Curious Case Of Sidd Finch." Sports Illustrated, April 1, 1985. I remember being extremely angry (for a few minutes) that the Mets were going to get this guy instead of my A's. I was an honest kid and man, it just seemed so unfair. When I realized it was a prank, I wasn't as upset. Because I always thought this guy, in some form, would someday show up and blow away the Twins, the Angels, and the Giants wearing an A's uniform. I'm still waiting!
* Frank Deford, "The Boxer and the Blonde." Sports Illustrated, June 17, 1985.Story of a hard Pittsburgh boxer and the woman who captured his heart.
* James Fenton, "The Snap Revolution." Granta, 1986. What happened in Manila, and in Malacanang Palace, when the Marcoses fell.
* Calvin Trillin, "Covering the Cops." The New Yorker, February 17, 1986.Terrific profile of Edna Buchanan
* Calvin Trillin, "Black or White." The New Yorker, April 14, 1986.
*** Richard Ben Cramer, "What Do You Think of Ted Williams Now?" Esquire, June 1986.
* Carlos M. Cipolia, "Basic Laws of Human Stupidity." Whole Earth Review, Spring 1987. A serious meditation on stupidity that will probably resonate today.
** John McPhee, "The Control of Nature: Atchafalaya." The New Yorker, February 23, 1987.
* Bill Barol, "I Stayed Up With Jerry." Newsweek, September 1987.
* Davis Miller, "My Dinner With Ali." Louisville Courier-Journal, 1989. [Ed.'s note: Republished in Miller's The Zen of Muhammad Ali, Harrington's The Beholder's Eye, and elsewhere.
* Gary Smith, "Shadow of a Nation." Sports Illustrated, February 18, 1991.Feature on the Crow Indians -- the story that won him his first National Magazine Award.
** Richard Preston, "The Mountains of Pi." The New Yorker, March 2, 1992.Two brothers build a supercomputer from mailorder parts in the New York apartment. All it does is compute new digits of Pi.
* Russ Rymer, "A Silent Childhood." The New Yorker. Part 1: April 13, 1992;Part II: April 20, 1992. The two-part article was later reworked into the book,Genie: a Scientific Tragedy, the story of a feral child discovered in LA in 1970, and how she was used as a guinea pig to test linguistic theories.
* Richard Preston, "Crisis in the Hot Zone." The New Yorker, October 26, 1992.  "If there were any significant airborne transmissibility to the disease, the situation would be much different." "How so?" "There would be a lot fewer of us.
* Susan Orlean, "The American Man at Age Ten." Esquire, December 1992. [Ed.'s note: Not available in Esquire's online archive, but you'll find it with a little searching. Also republished in Orlean's The Bullfighter Checks Her Makeupand Glass's The New Kings of Nonfiction.]
* Louis de Bernieres, "The Brass Bar." Granta, 1993. Callow writer and recently-graduated English major decides to expose himself to the rich language of the working class by taking a job as a mechanic, and discovers a brass bar that's so fucking pukka you'd want to spunk yourself.
**** Jon Krakauer, "Death of an Innocent: How Christopher McCandless Lost His Way in the Wilds." Outside Magazine, January 1993. Article that became Into the Wild.
* Mark Blackwell, "Cream of the Crap." Spin Magazine, May 1993.
* Mark Danner, "The Truth of El Mozote." The New Yorker, Dec 6, 1993.
* Julian Dibbell, "A Rape in Cyberspace." The Village Voice, December 21, 1993.
* David Foster Wallace, "Ticket to the Fair." Harper's Magazine, July 1994.
* Lawrence Weschler, "Inhaling the Spore:  David Wilson's Museum of Jurassic Technology." Harper's Magazine, September 1994.  The first and best detailed treatment of the most interesting place in North America.
* James R. Kincaid, "Tom the Misunderstood." The New York Times, Books, December 18, 1994.
** Gary Wolf, "The Curse of Xanadu." Wired, June 1995. The story of Ted's Nelson attempt to heal his personality with his invention of hypertext.
* Susan Orlean, "Orchid Fever." The New Yorker, January 23, 1995.
* Hunter S. Thompson, "Song of the Sausage Creature." Cycle World, March 1995. Unfortunately the magazine's web site doesn't include the article, but it's available on various other sites without permission; just Google the title. [Ed.'s note: Also republished in Thompson's Kingdom of Fear and Klancher's The Devil Can Ride.]
* George McKeena, "On Abortion: A Lincolnian Position." The Atlantic Monthly, September 1995. I don't agree with the political position, but I do recall it as one of the most rational, thoughtful articles I've read on the subject.
* Barry Lopez, "On the Wings of Commerce." Harper's, October 1995. An excellent view inside the hidden world of commercial air freight, which powers a big chunk of the global economy.  Think Neal Stevenson's glass necklace (see below), but airborne.
** David Foster Wallace, "Shipping Out: On the (Nearly Lethal) Comforts of a Luxury Cruise." Harper's Magazine, January 1996.
*** David Foster Wallace, "The String Theory." Esquire, July 1996.
*** Jon Krakauer, "Into Thin Air." Outside Magazine, September 1996.
****** Neal Stephenson, "Mother Earth, Mother Board: Wiring the Planet." Wired, December 1996. On laying trans-oceanic fiber optic cable.
* John Gregory Dunne, "The Humbolt Murders." The New Yorker, January 13, 1997.
* Katie Hafner, "The Epic Saga of The Well." Wired, May 1997.
* Ron Rosenbaum, "J.D. Salinger: The Man in the Glass House." Esquire, June 1997. This, in my mind, is the best piece on Salinger's reclusive life.
** Michael Paterniti, "Driving Mr. Albert: A Trip Across America with Einstein's Brain." Harper's Magazine, October 1997.
** Tom Junod, "Can you say- Hero?" Esquire, November 1998. A profile of Mr. Rogers.
* Robert Kurson, "My Favorite Teacher." Esquire, March 1, 2000.
** Bill Joy, "Why the future doesn't need us." Wired, April 2000. The best magazine article I've ever read-- by which I mean the piece that came out of nowhere and just knocked my socks off and changed the way I think about the human species.
* David Foster Wallace, "The Weasel, Twelve Monkeys and the Shrub." Rolling Stone, April 13, 2000. [Ed.'s note: Republished in Evans' The Best American Magazine Writing 2001.]
* Adrian Nicole LeBlanc, "Landing From the Sky." The New Yorker, April 24, 2000.
* Bruce Feiler, "Pocketful of Dough." Gourmet, October 2000.
* Malcolm Gladwell, "The Pitchman." The New Yorker, October 30, 2000. Part story teller and part sleuth, he gets beyond the simple sound bite to the core of what drives Popeil and his process. The fundamental takeaway is the inseparability of product design and product marketing in building products designed to be coveted by the customer they are target for.
* Rebecca Mead, “You’ve Got Blog.” The New Yorker, November 13, 2000.Profile of two bloggers before I knew what a blog was.
* William Langewiesche, "The Million Dollar Nose." The Atlantic Monthly, December 2000. About Wine critic Robert Parker.
* Mark Singer, "The Book Eater." The New Yorker, February 5, 2001. Profile of Michael Zinman, turbine trader and collector.
* George Gurley, "Pleasures of the Fur." Vanity Fair, March 2001.
** David Foster Wallace, "Tense Present: Democracy, English, and the Wars Over Usage." Harper's Magazine, April 2001. A tome to the politics of language.
** James B. Stewart, "The Matchmaker." The New Yorker, Aug 20, 2001. A revealing look into the secret world of Steinway Hall in New York City and one remarkable seller of pianos with troubled memories.
* Edward W. Said "The Clash of Ignorance." The Nation, October 22, 2001. In response to Huntington's "Clash of Civilizations."

* William Langewiesche, "The Crash of EgyptAir 990." Atlantic Magazine, November 2001.
* James B. Stewart, "The Real Heroes Are Dead." The New Yorker, February 11, 2002.In 1998, Susan Greer, a divorced New Jersey housewife in her fifties, fell in love with Rick Rescorla, an old-fashioned man of action seemingly from a bygone era. He worked as vice president for security for a financial firm, Morgan Stanley Dean Witter. Three years later, Rescorla died a hero at the World Trade Center, a tragedy he had long foreseen. Like the best storytellers, Stewart builds his tale so masterfully that, even though you already know the ending, it's still devastating, devastating, devastating.
* William Langewiesche, "American Ground: Unbuilding the World Trade Center." The Atlantic Monthly. Part I: "The Inner World," July/August 2002; Part II: "The Rush to Recover," September 2002; Part III: "The Dance of the Dinosaurs," October 2002. [Ed.'s note: Excerpts are available from The Atlantic. Republished as Langewiesche's American Ground: Unbuilding the World Trade Center.]
* Gary Taubes, "What if It's All Been a Big Fat Lie?" The New York Times, July 7, 2002.
* Alex Kotlowitz, " The Trenchcoat Robbers: After Fifteen Years and Twenty-seven Banks, They Finally Tripped Up." The New Yorker, July 8, 2002.
* John Seabrook, "The Fruit Detective." The New Yorker, Aug 19, 2002.
* James Fallows, "The Fifty-First State?" Atlantic Magazine, November 2002.
* Michael Pollan, "An Animal’s Place." The New York Times Magazine, November 10, 2002. It's about meat eating, and farming, and nutrition, but mostly it's about the hypocrisy of veganism or vegetarianism as an animal friendly way of life.
* Calvin Tomkins, “His Body, Himself.” The New Yorker, January 27, 2003.Profile of Mathew Barney.
* Evan Wright, "The Killer Elite." Rolling Stone, June 26, 2003. [Ed's note: Available in Rolling Stone's online archive by subscription only. Republished inThe Best American Magazine Writing 2004.]
* Katherine Boo, "The Marriage Cure: Is Wedlock Really a Way Out of Poverty?" The New Yorker, August 18, 2003.
*** Tom Junod, "The Falling Man." Esquire, September 2003.
* William Langewiesche, "Columbia's Last Flight." The Atlantic Monthly, November 2003.
* Charles Fishman, "The Wal-Mart You Don't Know." Fast Company, December 1, 2003.
* John Jeremiah Sullivan, "Upon This Rock: Rock Music Used to be a Safe Haven for Degenerates and Rebels. Until it Found Jesus." GQ, February 2004.Extremely funny and smart and profound meditation on much more than its title and subhead suggest.
* David Grann, "The Brand." The New Yorker, February 16, 2004. A look inside the most murderous prison gang in America.
* Stephen Dubner, "The Silver Thief." The New Yorker, May 17, 2004.
** Chris Jones, "Home." Esquire, July 1, 2004. A lovely meditation on loneliness and homesickness. Follows the astronauts on board the International Space Station when the space shuttle Columbia disintegrated on reentry in 2003, grounding the shuttle program and leaving them stranded in orbit.
***** David Foster Wallace, "Consider the Lobster." Gourmet Magazine, Aug 2004.
* Gene Weingarten, "Fear Itself: Learning to Live in the Age of Terrorism." The Washington Post, August 22, 2004. About riding a bus in Jerusalem.
** Chris Anderson, "The Long Tail." Wired, October 2004. See the Wikipedia article on Long Tail.
* Mark Slouka, "Quitting the Paint Factory." Harper's Magazine, November 2004.
* Bob Garfield, "Bob Garfield's 'Chaos Scenario': A Look at the Marketing Industry's Coming Disasterz." Advertising Age, April 13, 2005. A classic for anyone working in media today.
* James Bamford, "The Man Who Sold The War." Rolling Stone, December 1, 2005.
* Andrew Corsello, "The Wronged Man." GQ, November 2004 (republished November 2007).
* Jesse Katz, "The Recruit." Los Angeles, March 2005.
* Gene Weingarten, "The Peekaboo Paradox." The Washington Post, Sunday Magazine, January 22, 2006. Story about the weirdest clown, the Great Zucchini, you'll never want to meet. Keep reading....
** David Foster Wallace, "Host." Atlantic Magazine, April 2005.
* Malcolm Gladwell, "Million-Dollar Murray." The New Yorker, February 13, 2006. In it, he follows a homeless alcoholic and talks with the hospital he is constantly in and out of and determines that the man costs them about a million dollars a year because he is uninsured.  Besides the fabulous writing and the incredible way in which Gladwell argues his point about how paying for insurance for the man is infinitely smarter, it is a story of how the argument that the gov't shouldn't take care of people in this way is leading us into economic hell.
* Kevin Kelly, "Scan This Book." The New York Times Magazine, May 14, 2006.
* C.J. Chivers, "The School." Esquire, June 2006.
****** David Foster Wallace, "Federer As Religious Experience." The New York Times, Play Magazine, August 20, 2006.
* Jonathan Lethem, "The Ecstasy of Influence: A Plagiarism." Harper's Magazine, February 2007.
** Gene Weingarten, "Pearls Before Breakfast." The Washington Post, Magazine, April 8, 2007. Joshua Bell is one of the world's greatest violinists. His instrument of choice is a multimillion-dollar Stradivarius. If he played it for spare change, incognito, outside a bustling Metro stop in Washington, would anyone notice?
* Nick Paumgarten, "Up and Then Down: The Lives of Elevators." The New Yorker, April 21, 2008.
* Wil S. Hylton, "Leave No Man Behind." GQ, May 2008.
*** Chris Jones, "The Things That Carried Him." Esquire, May 2008. It’s extremely moving without being saccharine or twee. It’s a military story, but utterly without jingoism or indictment. And it’s wonderfully observed.
* David Grann, "The Chameleon: The many lives of Frédéric Bourdin." The New Yorker, August 11, 2008.
* Peter Alsop, Livia Corona, "Fin: The Last Days of Fish." Good, September 5, 2008. An excellent look at the sad state of our oceans and the fishing industry.
** Michael Lewis, "The End." Portfolio, November 11, 2008. Breaks down supposedly complex economic cause and effect into very engaging, easily understood analysis.  Real life characters as interesting and entertaining as the best fiction.  A must.
*** Gene Weingarten, "Fatal Distraction: Forgetting a Child in the Backseat of a Car Is a Horrifying Mistake. Is It a Crime?" The Washington Post, Magazine, March 8, 2009. Winner of the 2010 Pulitzer Prize in Feature Writing.
** Michael Lewis, "Wall Street on the Tundra." Vanity Fair, April 2009. It's an in depth analysis of the financial collapse of Iceland. Excellent. There are some great one liners (this isn't actually one of them, but it'll give you the idea): "This in a country the size of Kentucky, but with fewer citizens than greater Peoria, Illinois. Peoria, Illinois, doesn’t have global financial institutions, or a university devoting itself to training many hundreds of financiers, or its own currency. And yet the world was taking Iceland seriously."
* Dorothy and Thomas Hoobler, "Stealing Mona Lisa." Vanity Fair, May 2009.
** Skip Hollandsworth, "Still Life." Texas Monthly, May 2009. A Texas teenager is paralyzed from the neck down in a sports accident. His condition requires that he always lay down. Skip Hollandsworth's moving, detailed account captures a family who lived in a time capsule for over 30 years.
* Mike Sager, "Todd Marinovich: The Man Who Never Was." Esquire, May 2009.
* Michael Lewis, "The Man Who Crashed the World." Vanity Fair, August 2009.About the collapse of AIG.
** David Grann, "Trial by Fire: Did Texas Execute an Innocent Man?" The New Yorker, September 7, 2009. Portrait of the unjust conviction and execution of Cameron Todd Willingham. The piece perfectly portrays the U.S.'s broken justice system; the way Grann unfolds the story is a slow hammer blow.
* Thomas Lake, "The Debtor." Atlanta Magazine, November 2009.
* Justin Heckert, "Lost in the Waves." Men's Journal, November 9, 2009.
* Evan Ratliff, "Writer Evan Ratliff Tried to Vanish: Here’s What Happened." Wired, November 20, 2009.
* Ariel Levy, "Either/Or: Sports, Sex, and the Case of Caster Semenya." The New Yorker, November 30, 2009. Wonderful, heartbreaking piece about the South African runner.
* Janet Malcolm, "Iphigenia in Forest Hills." The New Yorker, May 3, 2010. A compelling look at a murder trial, the rituals of a courtroom and a contemplation on being a journalist all rolled into one.
* Errol Morris, "The Anosognosic’s Dilemma: Something’s Wrong but You’ll Never Know What It Is." The New York Times, Opinion, June 20, 2010. There's been a lot of well-written, breezy books on the brain in the last--well, I don't know; since I've been paying attention?--but this series maps the concepts of perception and the physiology behind perceiving reality and the harsh truth of reality to interesting, practical anecdotes, some of which are recent, and some of which are historical. It's fascinating.
* Michael Hastings, "The Runaway General." Rolling Stone, June 22, 2010. An entertaining read and  because of impact it had on Army leadership it has become historically important.
* Atul Gawande, "Letting Go: What Should Medicine Do When It Can’t Save Your Life?" The New Yorker, August 2, 2010. I couldn't read it all at once because I started crying at several points.


Blogger avi said...

Thanks for the list.

3:05 PM  
Anonymous Jenn said...

Hi. Do you know where one can buy harper's mag?Thanks

5:26 PM  

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