Today, Other Magazines reads The New Yorker, New York, Newsweek, Harper's, Texas Monthly, and the Weekly Standard to find out what's worth your time—and what's not.
The New Yorker traces the rise of a megachurch in New England, a region with just 12 congregations that exceed 2,000 worshippers. The article explores the origin of the megachurch, the forces that contribute to its success, and its opponents' critiques, including fundamentalists and Calvinists who deride them as "market-driven churches that cater to the society's insatiable demand for entertainment."—E.G.
A profile of Texas Sen. John Cornyn in the December Texas Monthly presents a detailed look at the roots of Cornyn's conservatism and how his role in the Senate will shift after Bush leaves office. No Texas politician profile is complete without an inescapable sport-shooting experience, and this reporter ("improbably, impossibly") passed the test.—D.S.
Best Campaign Piece
Newsweek's cover examines Rudy Giuliani's upbringing, surrounded by friends and relatives both "good and bad," and how this exposure helps him see the often blurry line between saint and sinner.
Best Campaign Review
The Weekly Standard runs a funny and intelligent review of campaign memoirs by current presidential candidates, including works by Christopher Dodd, Mike Huckabee, Mitt Romney, Hillary Clinton, and John Edwards. For all "the puffery, the opportunism, the ambition," the article concludes, "even politicians, even their ghostwriters, can't kill the campaign book."—G.H.
Best Foreign Piece
Harper's visits the newly discovered Archives of the Guatemalan National Police Force—the group responsible for many atrocities in the Dirty Wars of the 1970s and 1980s. The article, which features comments from victims' family members and former guerillas, uncovers a country slowly discovering the truth of the harrowing era.—J.M.
Most Controversial Statement
The Weekly Standard accuses congressional Democrats of not only attempting to sabotage American victory in Iraq, but also being bad saboteurs. "They tried, it is true, to do serious damage, but were compromised in the event by their chronic incompetence."—G.H.
Harper's publishes lawyer Clive Stafford Smith's snarky response to Navy allegations that he smuggled Speedos in to several Guantanamo Bay inmates. "Mr. Aamer is hardly in a position to go swimming, since the only available water is in the toilet in his cell. … I presume that nobody thinks that Mr. Aamer wears Speedos while paddling in his privy."—J.M.
The New Yorker reports: "A well-fed pigeon will produce twenty-five pounds of waste in a year, and there may be more than a million pigeons in New York."—E.G.
Best Sports Piece
A column in Texas Monthly takes on bloated college athletics programs—particularly football—and reveals that coaches have more monetary incentives to win championships than to encourage their players to graduate. "The business of college sports," the piece observes, "is to help its fans forget that it's a business."—D.S.
Best Science Article
The New Yorker explores paleovirology, "which seeks to better understand the impact of modern diseases by studying the genetic history of ancient viruses." Resurrecting extinct retroviruses—viruses that copy their genetic information into cells' DNA—could help explain human evolution. "Viruses," one researcher declares, "may well be the unseen creator that most likely did contribute to making us human."—E.G.
Best Culture Piece
New York's cover story investigates the ever-growing business of spa treatments and the ramifications of "ritualistic grooming—that potent, mutual currency of female friendship—[becoming] an industry."—M.S.
In Harper's, Nadine Gordimer imagines what it's like to be a tapeworm, and concludes that apart from being expelled from the host's body, life isn't so bad.—J.M.
The New Yorker looks at a number of new cookbooks, all "remarkably alike in their gleeful chauvinism about being carnivores." One cookbook includes photographs of "two men wearing sea urchins like sunglasses" and "pig heads arranged in a vat of boiling water so that they seem to be screaming."—E.G.
Best Pop-Culture Analysis
Examine the literary roots of Gossip Girl with New York's Cliffs Notes to the series. Whoever knew Prince Hal and Dorian Gray would make an appearance on the CW?—M.S.
Best Letter-to-the-Editor Page
Texas Monthly's readers are bitterly divided over the magazine's editorial slant: One calls it a "right wing rag," while another dismisses its "overtly liberal tone."—D.S.
Best Cocktail-Party Factoid
Harper's piece on the role of the mouse in medical testing highlights the wastefulness of the industry: "[S]eventy percent of all male mice are euthanized before weaning" because they are seen as "too aggressive."—J.M.