Today, Other Magazines reads through the Economist, n+1, the New York Times Magazine, Time, and Vanity Fair to find out what's worth your time—and what's not.
An impossible-to-put-down Vanity Fair feature chronicles the sex scandal that has rocked Pitcairn, the tiny Pacific island where the Bounty mutineers sought refuge in the late 18th century. Technically a British colony, Pitcairn is so isolated that the residents—fewer than 50 of them—developed their own mores, like the practice that eventually got "six men—a third of the island's adult male population" arrested: sexually initiating island lassies before the age of 12.—J.L.
Best International Story
Time's Person of the Year award goes to Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is transforming Russia into "one of the great powers of the new world." The excellent cover story offers an up-close look at the steely leader, who's been growing increasingly indifferent to the West as he finds his footing.—D.S.
Best Campaign Story
The New York Times Magazine finds new ground in the seemingly inexhaustible story of the Clinton Conundrum—that is, to what degree will voters consider Hillary Clinton's bid a return to her husband's presidency? Verdict: At the end of the day, Democrats still love Bill.—C.W.
Best Health Article
The Economist looks at California's effort to ensure that all its residents have health insurance by the year 2010 and what it means for the presidential campaign: Hillary Clinton and John Edwards have proposed similar reforms, while Barack Obama opposes requiring citizens to have health insurance. Clinton, in fact, has already used Schwarzenegger's line "that the current system, in which many of the uninsured receive free health care in emergency rooms, is a 'hidden tax.' "—E.G.
Best Iraq-War Piece
A brief profile of Gen. David Petraeus in Time summarizes the events of the Iraq war under his command. "Petraeus has not failed, which, given the anarchy and pessimism of February, must be considered something of a triumph."—D.S.
In a provocative article, n+1 looks into the face of Seung-Hui Cho—the 23-year-old Virginia Tech student who killed 32 people before killing himself—and reports back. Some people, the article contends, are essentially unlovable, as "they aren't appealing on the outside, and that once you dig into the real person … you find the real inner ugliness."—E.G.
Best Business Piece
"Trouble Brewing" for American beer drinkers, says the Economist: As farmers in the Pacific Northwest turn to more lucrative crops like corn, hop production in the region has dropped by 50 percent in the past decade. Small craft breweries and microbreweries have been forced to raise prices or shut down production, and even industry giant Anheuser-Busch has upped the price of a six-pack.—E.G.
Best Science Article
The Economist observes the mixed reaction to the successful sequencing of the pinot noir genome. The possibility of genetically modified grapes able to grow in regions currently inhospitable is appealing to many producers. But, the article suggests, European consumers, who are so territorial of their terroir, may be more hesitant to embrace these supergrapes.—E.G.
Best Piece for Word Lovers
William Safire, in his "On Language" column in the New York Times Magazine, reviews his favorite reader corrections and miscorrections (or is it incorrections?) and traces the etymology of a few newcomers to the scene, like e-maelstrom.—C.W.
Best Culture Piece
After reading several "how to read" guides, n+1 observes that Harold Bloom and his cohorts forget that the joy of reading is derived from "a certain experience of freedom" in which we begin to discover our true selves. The article urges us to preserve the autonomy of novels and poems "because it might be our last best chance to attain our own autonomy."—E.G.
Best Photo Essay
The New York Times Magazine prints four images of designers attempting to channel their visions of utopia through clothes. What the images lack in sheer intensity, they make up with the weirdness of the characters.—C.W.
Best Holiday Piece
In an essay from Time, a Muslim resident of Bethlehem relives scenes from his childhood, when Muslim and Christian children played and even worshipped together, and looks for peace in the hostility that now besets the town of Jesus' birth.—D.S.
Best Cocktail-Party Factoid
This fall, the Economist reports, a district court ruled in favor of a wife's claim that her husband had been worked to death: Before collapsing at his job, he had worked 80 hours of overtime every month for six months. Since being recognized by the Japanese government as an official cause of death in the 1980s, karoshi—death by overwork—has become increasingly common.—E.G.