Today, Other Magazines reads The New Yorker, Newsweek, New York, the Weekly Standard, the New Republic, and Esquire to find out what's worth your time—and what's not.
The New Yorker eulogizes the eastern hemlock, which has been decimated by the woolly adelgid, an Asian parasite introduced to North America in the early 20th century. This kind of plague is not unusual: A number of other trees, including the American elm, have been devastated by non-native predators, whose rapid proliferation has been aided by increasingly warm winters.—E.G.
A Newsweek profile goes a little too far lionizing Secretary of Defense Robert Gates for his quiet, moderate role "as the best insurance that the Bush administration (read: Vice President Cheney) will not leave a legacy of ashes in Iran."—J.M.
The New Republic goes to the margins to paint a charming portrait of Republican presidential hopeless Duncan Hunter: "Hunter's amiability may, one day, win him the kingdom of heaven, but in this kingdom he is a very poor man."—G.H.
New York's cover story tackles Rudy Giuliani's campaign-trail claims that he rescued the city from "the hellhole of depravity and despair." The piece notes that yes, Giuliani rose to the occasion of 9/11, but "New York from all the years in between, knows something else about his character. … If a crisis doesn't present itself, Rudy Giuliani can be counted on to create one."—M.S.
Best Foreign-Policy Piece
Novelist Khaled Hosseini pens an editorial in Newsweek urging the American government to remain engaged in Afghanistan. Despite continuing hardships and a resurgent Taliban, he finds many reasons to be cautiously optimistic about the country's fate.—J.M.
In an otherwise thoughtful Weekly Standard remembrance for the late Sen. Henry Hyde, Fred Barnes fondly recalls the time Hyde silenced a pro-choice colleague by telling a fictitious story about being reared by strangers after his unmarried mother left him on their doorstep.—B.F.
Newsweek evaluates statements from "master spinners" Bill Clinton and Karl Rove regarding their roles in the run up to the October 2002 vote for war with Iraq. It finds that both men aren't exactly telling the truth.—J.M.
Best Culture Piece
A column in Esquire advocates punching "the sorts of assholes who not only act like assholes but celebrate their assholedom." Just like in the blogosphere ("everybody thinks they're above being edited"), our culture has developed far too much tolerance for the insistently uncivilized.—D.S.
Best Music Piece
A Weekly Standard survey of Pakistan's pop music scene, which boomed after Musharraf privatized the nation's television networks but has since declined with the rise of militancy, focuses on a duo of Led Zeppelin-inspired hard-rock extremists.—B.F.
Most Appalling Writers' Strike Dispatch
In New York'sIntelligencer section, chick-lit author Plum Sykes enlightens readers on "the fashion semiotics" of the writers' strike ("the best party in New York right now!"). Her conclusion? "The dime-store mac is so right for right now."—M.S.
In conversation with The New Yorker, Harry Mount, author of Carpe Diem: Put a Little Latin in Your Life, declares, "Doing Latin was a bit like wearing X-ray specs. … Everywhere I went, I had the pleasure of knowledge."—E.G.
Best Tech Story
The Weekly Standard looks at Google's plan to digitize the 32 million books, a seemingly great idea that has engendered more lawsuits and ill-will than anything else they've attempted.—B.F.
The editors of the New Republic launch a hearty defense of the fading book review, which they see as "training for controversy, without which no open society and no open individual can flourish."—G.H.
The New Yorker examines several recently published diaries, including Arthur Schlesinger Jr.'s. If "the obvious assumption is that we read diaries because we want to know what the diarist was really like as a person," the article wonders, how often do diaries fulfill this promise?—E.G.
Best Art Piece
Newsweek mourns the "death of photography" in an era of mass digitization, which facilitates manipulation of "the truth."—J.M.
Best End-of-Year List
For Esquire's December "genius issue," the magazine hunted down 36 risky, creative freethinkers in education, science, business, and the arts who have each earned a moment in the spotlight.—D.S.