Uniformly excellent collection of the winners and finalists of this year's National Magazine Awards.
For fans of the contemporary essay, 2005, as represented by this collection, was a very good year; ASME's selections are stellar. Predictably, much of the work singled out for recognition could be described as “muscular” journalism, concerned with the American justice system, international conflict, sports, the space program. A particularly searing pair were both published in the New Yorker: Seymour Hersh's painful “Torture at Abu Ghraib” and Samantha Powers's “Dying in Darfur.” American injustice is highlighted in “Innocence Lost,” by Nina Martin, for San Francisco Magazine, and “The Wronged Man,” by Andrew Corsello, for GQ, about the 20-year imprisonment of an innocent man and the roadblocks thrown up by the court system as he worked toward freedom. The scientific sphere is covered by “Home,” published in Esquire, in which Chris Jones writes powerfully of the astronauts who were nearly stranded in space after the explosion of the space shuttle Columbia. Stem-cell research is addressed by James McManus in “Please Stand by While the Age of Miracles Is Briefly Suspended,” for Esquire. New York City gets the nod in Adam Gopnik's “Times Regained,” his thoughts on Times Square, for the New Yorker, and Jed Perl's “Modern Immaturity,” a critique of the new Museum of Modern Art, for The New Republic. There are profiles of two very different men, both equally possessed by their calling: Ned Zeman's “The Man Who Loved Grizzlies,” for Vanity Fair, covers the life and death of Timothy Treadwell, the man who lived among bears in Alaska, and Ian Parker's “The Gift,” for the New Yorker, centers on Zell Kravinsky, a man who wants to give away everything he has, including unnecessary bodily organs.
The best works of the year, cherry-picked and suitably delicious. The only quibble: Of 17 writers featured, only three are female.