Today, Other Magazines reads Newsweek, The New Yorker, New York, the Weekly Standard, and Vanity Fair to find out what's worth your time—and what's not.
Best Cover Story
A thorough and edifying piece on John McCain fronts the Weekly Standard. The article charts McCain's path through a turbulent 2007 that included stints on top of the GOP field, on the verge of political death, and on the rise as the new favorite to become the nominee.—C.M.
Best Campaign Piece
The New Yorker examines the role race has in voting patterns. Because most voters won't admit to having a racial bias, political scientists need to find other ways of searching for it, such as asking voters about their attitudes about blacks and welfare. It seems like a "safe" question for whites, many of whom answer it truthfully. Another finding: Hispanics seem unwilling to vote for black candidates.—J.R.
Best Mudslinging Article
Newsweek delves into the "black arts" of political campaigning—character assassination. Technology makes it easier, and more anonymous, but the old methods work well, too. Few can forget some of McCain's worst slams, including fliers during the 2000 race saying that a vote for him would be a vote for "McCain's Fag Army."—J.R.
In response to Karl Rove's buoyantly positive take on his role in the Bush administration, Vanity Fair snipes, "[I]t's as if the captain of the Titanic landed ashore and began soliciting offers for his monograph on water safety."—E.G.
Best Take Down
The Weekly Standard delivers a biting critique of Rudy Giuliani's campaign strategy. The article labels him an "also-ran" who has tacked too far right on national security to appeal to independents and has too liberal of a past to appeal to a conservative base.—C.M.
Best Historical Perspective
Newsweek reviewsThis Republic of Suffering, Drew Gilpin Faust's book about the U.S. Civil War and how it radically changed the way Americans view death. Union Gen. (and later president) James A. Garfield remarked that soldiers who viewed the dead-strewn fields forever lost their "sense of the sacredness of life and the impossibility of destroying it."—J.R.
Vanity Fair reads the new crop of Bush books, many of which spotlight Bush's dismissive take on his own legacy ("History. We don't know. We'll all be dead."), and few of which question whether the administration's failures were in fact necessary features, designed to benefit Republics and their corporate sponsors.—E.G.
Best Web 2.0 Piece
The New Yorker runs a penetrating article about the MySpace suicide incident in Missouri, where a 13-year-old girl killed herself after a cruel prank. The nation was shocked by the revelation that adults had taken part in the hoax, "but no one could agree about whether its source was a culture that encouraged teen-agers to act too grownup or one that permitted grownups to behave like teen-agers."—J.R.
Best Sports Column
New York pays tribute to newly inducted Baseball Hall-of-Famer Goose Gossage, a relief pitcher who defined the occupational mythology of the loose-cannon closer. Best line: "[Y]ou can thank and/or blame him for every time some slender sapling trots out from the bullpen to 'Hell's Bells.' "—C.W.
New York magazine profiles Jeff Bewkes, the new chief executive at a stumbling Time Warner Inc., and ponders whether this comparatively modest CEO can save the colossal company. The profile drags on for 5,000-plus words, but even the first few pages offer an entertaining portrait of a man determined not to fit the corporate mold.—C.W.
Best Entertainment Piece
Vanity Fair traces the history of the Indiana Jones franchise in anticipation of the upcoming installment. The article takes a close look at the early careers of George Lucas and Steven Spielberg, and how the intervening decades have shaped Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, which Lucas says has a 1950s, sci-fi bent.—E.G.
Playwright David Mamet talks with New York magazine about his new play, November, which stars Nathan Lane as a cynical president facing a losing bid for re-election. On whether his play will prove prophetic, Mamet says: "For a long time, I felt politicians were stealing my material. I wrote Wag the Dog and then that scandal followed. I guess plagiarism is the sincerest form of thievery."—C.W.