Another year, another exemplary collection of the finest magazine writing in the United States.
This year’s selections include the winners of the National Magazine Awards as well as the competition finalists, who are on par with each other in terms of dexterity and literary impact. Vanessa Grigoriadis ignites the volume with a dazzling—and quite tongue-in-cheek—profile of a fashion icon, “Karl Lagerfeld, Boy Prince of Fashion” (New York Magazine). In “He Knew He Was Right” (the New Yorker), Ian Parker offers a focused look at iconoclastic literary and political critic Christopher Hitchens. Caroline Alexander gives a respectful nod to unrivaled Italian mountaineer Reinhold Messner in “Murdering the Impossible” (National Geographic), and Alex Ross pens a stylish appreciation of Wolfgang Mozart in “The Storm of Style” (New Yorker). In what may be the best piece of the bunch, “The Other Side of Hate” (GQ), Andrew Corsello vividly chronicles the unlikely alliance in economically taxed Zimbabwe of Paul Neshangwe, a black preacher, and Jim Steele, a white agronomist. Severity of subject matter is evident in William Langewiesche’s harrowing “Rules of Engagement” (Vanity Fair), about an Iraqi civilian massacre (by U.S. Marine soldiers) in the country’s western city of Haditha. Likewise in C.J. Chivers’s “The School” (Esquire), a breathlessly detailed piece about the 2004 Beslan tragedy. Human-interest writing shines in Susan Casey’s ominous and unsettling report, “Our Oceans Are Turning Into Plastic…Are We?” (Best Life), which documents the discovery and investigation of an enormous floating landfill of plastic waste—the size of Texas—some 800 miles north of Hawaii; and in Janet Reitman’s eye-opening “Inside Scientology” (Rolling Stone).
A brilliant compilation.