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Longreads Best of 2018: All of Our No. 1 Story Picks
All through December, we’ll be featuring Longreads’ Best of 2018. Here’s a list of all our no. 1 picks from our weekly Top 5 emails this year.
If you like these, you can sign up to receive our weekly email every Friday.
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“Oh My God, This Is So F—ed Up”: Inside Silicon Valley’s Secretive, Orgiastic Dark Side
Emily Chang | Vanity Fair | January 2, 2018 | 19 minutes (4,775 words)
While the guys get laid, the women get screwed.
I Started the Media Men List. My name is Moira Donegan.
Moira Donegan | The Cut | January 10, 2018 | 11 minutes (2,877 words)
“The experience of making the spreadsheet has shown me that it is still explosive, radical, and productively dangerous for women to say what we mean. But this doesn’t mean that I’ve lowered my hopes.”
My Brother’s Keeper
Sabine Heinlein | Pacific Standard | January 16, 2018 | 28 minutes (7,000 words)
Sabine Heinlein tells the heartbreaking story of Terri Been, who has devoted years of her life to saving her brother’s after he was sentenced to death by the state of Texas almost two decades ago for a murder he definitively did not commit.
Here’s Every Word Of Olympic Gymnast Aly Raisman’s Courtroom Statement To Her Sexual Abuser
Aly Raisman | BuzzFeed | January 19, 2018 | 8 minutes (2,219 words)
The six-time Olympic medalist was one of more than 150 women who gave victim impact statements at the sentencing of Larry Nassar, the former doctor for the American gymnastics team. Nassar was sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison for sex crimes. For more, read the original 2016 reporting by the Indianapolis Star.
To Be, or Not to Be
Masha Gessen | New York Review of Books | January 29, 2018 | 16 minutes (4,037 words)
A personal essay in which Russian emigre Masha Gessen ruminates on the culture’s tendency to privilege those who’ve suffered for a lack of choice — in becoming refugees, in picking their gender — and the choices that have impacted her life.
A Kingdom from Dust
Mark Arax | The California Sunday Magazine | February 1, 2018 | 79 minutes (19,858 words)
Stewart Resnick is the world’s largest irrigated farmer. He lives in Beverly Hills and has never driven a tractor. His California empire of fruit, almonds, and pistachios helped turn the state’s nut boom into a national controversy, thanks in part to his wife Lynda Resnick’s ingenious branding of their crops as healthy snacks. Despite the catastrophic five-year drought and a lack of state and federal irrigation water, the Resnick’s acres in Kern County continued to thrive. So how were they able to outsmart Mother Nature? And what was the true cost to California?
The Final Terrible Voyage of the Nautilus
May Jeong | WIRED | February 15, 2018 | 20 minutes (5,044 words)
Kim Wall went for a ride on a submarine, hoping to write a story about a maker of “extreme machines.” She never did. In a search for answers, May Jeong traveled to Denmark to investigate the tragic and senseless murder of her friend — a young journalist in the prime of her life.
My First Year Sober
Edith Zimmerman | Spiralbound | February 21, 2018
Writer and cartoonist Edith Zimmerman on how she stopped drinking.
Jerry and Marge Go Large
Jason Fagone | Huffington Post Highline | March 1, 2018 | 43 minutes (10,910 words)
How a dyslexic cereal box designer with a penchant for puzzles and patterns figured out a loophole in the Cash WinFall state lottery game, earning $27 million in gross profits playing the lottery over nine years in two states.
The Male Glance
Lili Loofbourow | Virginia Quarterly Review | March 5, 2018 | 23 minutes (5,980 words)
The male glance is what we do to art by women: it’s a look that is quick, it judges, it supposes, and it moves on. It’s what makes art by men serious, and art by women dismissive. “We’ve been hemorrhaging great work for decades,” writes Lili Loofbourow, “partly because we were so bad at seeing it.”
For Decades, Our Coverage Was Racist. To Rise Above Our Past, We Must Acknowledge It
Susan Goldberg | National Geographic | March 12, 2018 | 6 minutes (1,630 words)
In her introduction to National Geographic‘s “Race Issue,” Editor-in-Chief Susan Goldberg looks back on the ways in which the magazine’s coverage, since its inception in 1888, has participated in othering of people of color, and used racial slurs.
Sloane Crosley | The New Yorker | March 16, 2018 | 25 minutes (6,250 words)
After never knowing a moment’s privacy, Sloane Crosley finally moves into the one-bedroom apartment of her dreams in the city that never sleeps. And then she never sleeps again, because all of her windows face Jared.
Whatever’s Your Darkest Secret, You Can Ask Me
Lizzie Presser | The California Sunday Magazine | March 28, 2018 | 27 minutes (6,799 words)
A feature on a growing secret network of women who — bucking the law and the medical establishment — are getting trained to offer abortions, safely and inexpensively, in the privacy of women’s homes.
I Walked From Selma To Montgomery
Rahawa Haile | BuzzFeed | April 1, 2018 | 13 minutes (3,400 words)
The Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail is, at 54 miles, the shortest of America’s 19 National Historic Trails. It is also a hike in which the walking of it is a political act, and Rahawa Haile decides she has no choice but to hike it in the early days of the Trump Administration.
Aging Ghosts in the Skincare Machine
Chelsea G. Summers | Medium | April 10, 2018 | 19 minutes (4,999 words)
In this incisive reported essay written as part of Roxane Gay’s Unruly Bodies series, Chelsea G. Summers mines her own fears, writing about the skin as a battleground for many women terrified by aging’s effect on their birthday suit.
Rachel Monroe | Esquire | April 18, 2018 | 21 minutes (5,373 words)
After two siblings got kidnapped on the Navajo reservation, jurisdictional issues and a structural breakdown of the Amber Alert system slowed the search. Trying to protect Indigenous children on tribal lands requires increased police training and federal funding, but funding often means compromising some tribal sovereignty.
A Killing at Donkey Creek
Rahima Nasa | ProPublica | April 26, 2018 | 16 minutes (4,131 words)
Jimmy Smith-Kramer, a former high school basketball star and a member of the Quinault Indian Nation in Taholah, Washington, was only 20 years old when James Walker mowed him down with his pickup truck. Was it a hate crime? Investigators aren’t sure.
Murder at the Alcatraz of the Rockies
Chris Outcalt | The Atavist | May 1, 2018 | 43 minutes (10,922 words)
How a rookie FBI agent spent a decade investigating the conspiracy surrounding the murder of Manuel (Tati) Torrez, a high-ranking member of the notorious Mexican Mafia gang, la Eme.
Four Women Accuse New York’s Attorney General of Physical Abuse
Jane Mayer and Ronan Farrow | The New Yorker | May 11, 2018 | 24 minutes (6,100 words)
Eric Schneiderman, as the head of law enforcement in New York State, used his position of power to become a voice for the #MeToo movement. But behind closed doors, his treatment of women was abusive and physically disturbing. Schneiderman resigned three hours after this story was published. (See also: Ronan Farrow’s commencement speech to Loyola Marymount’s Class of 2018 on trusting your inner voice.)
Driven to Despair
Jessica Bruder | New York Magazine | May 16, 2018 | 20 minutes (5,188 words)
Doug Schifter waged a one-man campaign to stop Uber from putting his fellow black-car drivers out of business. Then he decided to take his own life.
Blood Will Tell, Part One
Pamela Colloff | ProPublica | May 23, 2018 | 43 minutes (10,897 words)
Mickey Bryan’s husband, a beloved high school principal, was charged with killing her. Did he do it, or had there been a terrible mistake?
How One Woman’s Fight to Save Her Family Helped Lead to a Mass Exoneration
Jennifer Gonnerman | The New Yorker | May 28, 2018 | 30 minutes (7,630 words)
On Chicago’s Southside, Clarissa Glenn worked for ten years to get her husband out of prison after crooked cops planted evidence on him. Her efforts ended up overturning thirty-two other convictions.
Body Positivity Is a Scam
Amanda Mull | Racked | June 5, 2018 | 9 minutes (2,447 words)
“How a movement intended to lift up women really just limits their acceptable emotions. Again.”
The Lifespan of a Lie
Ben Blum | Medium | June 7, 2018 | 30 minutes (7,628 words)
Dramatizations, manipulations, lies ─ the famous Stanford Prison Experiment proved to be a highly influential psychological study, even though it was hardly scientific.
How I Broke, and Botched, the Brandon Teena Story
Donna Minkowitz | Village Voice | June 20, 2018 | 16 minutes (4,019 words)
Journalist Donna Minkowitz apologizes 25 years after breaking the story of Brandon Teena, transgender murder victim and subject of the film Boys Don’t Cry. Retroactively realizing it was “the most insensitive and inaccurate piece of journalism I have ever written,” Minkowitz examines what she sees now as her own internalized homophobia and ignorance of trans issues.
After the Fall
John Lanchester | London Review of Books | June 27, 2018 | 30 minutes (7,694 words)
It’s been 10 years since the 2008 financial crisis and we’re still living with the fallout: financial institutions have seen few major regulatory changes, the poor and middle class have carried the burden of austerity measures and have responded with a sharp rise in populism, and life expectancy has stagnated.
Aaron Hamburger | Tin House | June 27, 2018 | 14 minutes (3,575 words)
A small romantic gesture, even though unrequited, helped the author recover from a violent teenage assault.
David Dayen | HuffPost Highline | July 12, 2018 | 41 minutes (10,400 words)
David Dayen tells the story of Mike Picarella, an HSBC banker who witnessed a coworker being repeatedly sexually harassed and had his life ruined after he reported it to HR. The account shows how power imbalances within the banking industry prevent whistleblowers from coming forward and why there have been so few #metoo stories that have come out of Wall Street despite its notorious frat boy culture.
For One Last Night, Make It a Blockbuster Night
Justin Heckert | The Ringer | July 19, 2018 | 37 minutes (9,282 words)
What’s the major difference between renting a movie at Blockbuster and streaming it on Netflix? As Justin Heckert reports for The Ringer, as the last Blockbuster video stores close, the people of Alaska won’t just miss the blissful comfort and simplicity of family movie night. They’ll miss the human interaction that can be the best part of visiting the video store in person: the colorful people, the jokes, the laughs, and the delightful camaraderie of discovering a shared favorite film at the checkout counter.
How Goop’s Haters Made Gwyneth Paltrow’s Company Worth $250 Million
Taffy Brodesser-Akner | The New York Times Magazine | July 25, 2018 | 32 minutes (8,212 words)
“Inside the growth of Goop — the most controversial brand in the wellness industry.”
Losing Earth: The Decade We Almost Stopped Climate Change
Nathaniel Rich | The New York Times Magazine | August 1, 2018 | 122 minutes (30,663 words)
We’ve long known we’re headed for climate change disaster. And in the 1980s, a small group of scientists, activists, and politicians almost got us to do something about it. Almost.
War Without End
C.J. Chivers | The New York Times Magazine | August 7, 2018 | 45 minutes (11,261 words)
“The Pentagon’s failed campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan left a generation of soldiers with little to fight for but one another.”
Steve Stecklow | Reuters | August 15, 2018 | 18 minutes (4,500 words)
A Reuters investigation finds that Facebook is having a difficult time combating hate speech in Myanmar, a market where the platform dominates and where there have been regular outbreaks of ethnic violence. Reuters found more than 1,000 posts, comments, and images targeting the Rohingya Muslim minority group, some urging for them to be shot or exterminated.
A Few Words about Fake Breasts
Nell Boeschenstein | Granta | August 20, 2018 | 25 minutes (6,409 words)
Nell Boeschenstein, writing almost seven years after her prophylactic mastectomy, examines how breasts — whether real or fake, attached to or removed from their original owner — carry an overabundance of personal and cultural meaning.
We Saw Nuns Kill Children: The Ghosts of St. Joseph’s Catholic Orphanage
Christine Kenneally | BuzzFeed News | August 27, 2018 | 108 minutes (27,057 words)
A wide-ranging piece of investigative journalism — the result of four years of research — on widespread abuse and in some cases, the killing of children at St. Joseph’s Catholic Orphanage in Vermont and other orphanages, in the 20th century.
The Mystery of Tucker Carlson
Lyz Lenz | Columbia Journalism Review | September 5, 2018 | 25 minutes (6,973 words)
If we figure out how Tucker Carlson went from promising gonzo journalist to “shouty guy in the bow tie,” maybe we’ll figure out what happened to America.
You Owe Me An Apology
Brittany Packnett | Elle | September 12, 2018 | 6 minutes (1,604 words)
“I’m a black woman in America. I have been owed plenty of apologies. I just never believed I deserved to demand one.”
What Do We Owe Her Now?
Elizabeth Bruenig | Washington Post | September 19, 2018 | 37 minutes (9,475 words)
In 2006, a high school student in Arlington, Texas named Amber Wyatt reported that she had been raped by two classmates. Authorities failed to help her and she was ostracized by her community. Twelve years later, Wyatt’s case remains unresolved, a troubling reminder that justice doesn’t always find a way.
How Russia Helped Swing the Election for Trump
Jane Mayer | The New Yorker | September 25, 2018 | 27 minutes (6,925 words)
“I’m not arguing that Russians pulled the voting levers. I’m arguing that they persuaded enough people to either vote a certain way or not vote at all.”
Trump Engaged in Suspect Tax Schemes as He Reaped Riches From His Father
Russ Buettner, Susanne Craig, and David Barstow | The New York Times | October 2, 2018 | 56 minutes (14,246 words)
A ground-breaking investigation into the potentially illegal financial schemes, tax evasions, and grandiose lies employed by Fred Trump and his son, Donald J. Trump, designed to create the illusion of the president as a self-made billionaire, and to falsely raise and lower the values of their holdings as needed to make money, and hide it.
Finlay Young | ProPublica | October 11, 2018 | 54 minutes (13,700 words)
Katie Meyler founded the More Than Me Academy in Liberia to educate girls and get them off the street. She also hired the man who would rape dozens of MTM’s 11 and 12 year old students, impregnating some and leaving others HIV positive.
The Love Story that Upended the Texas Prison System
Ethan Watters | Texas Monthly | October 11, 2018 | 66 minutes (16,500 words)
How Frances Jalet, one of the first women to graduate from Columbia Law School, and Fred Cruz, the first inmate to write a lawsuit on toilet paper that went all the way to the Supreme Court, teamed up to take on the Texas Department of Corrections for unconstitutional punishments and brutality.
Miscarrying at Work: The Physical Toll of Pregnancy Discrimination
Natalie Kitroeff, Jessica Silver-Greenberg | The New York Times | October 21, 2018 | 16 minutes (4,111 words)
“The New York Times reviewed thousands of pages of court and other public records involving workers who said they had suffered miscarriages, gone into premature labor or, in one case, had a stillborn baby after their employers rejected their pleas for assistance.”
My Father Says He’s a ‘Targeted Individual.’ Maybe We All Are
Jean Guerrero | Wired | October 25, 2018 | 24 minutes (6,154 words)
When Jean Guerrero’s father told her that the CIA was monitoring him, she didn’t dismiss his claims. She investigated his them the way a journalist should, and she began to see our digital world very differently.
Peter DeMarco | Boston Globe | November 3, 2018 | 50 minutes (12,676 words)
When 34-year-old Laura Levis began having an asthma attack, she went to a nearby hospital to save herself but was unable to locate an open entrance. She lost consciousness just outside the emergency room and died seven days later. Her husband, Peter DeMarco, set out to determine why this happened and discovered a series of systemic problems that all played roles in Laura’s death.
Delay, Deny and Deflect: How Facebook’s Leaders Fought Through Crisis
Jack Nicas, Matthew Rosenberg, Cecilia Kang, Sheera Frenkel, Nicholas Confessore | The New York Times | November 14, 2018 | 24 minutes (6,222 words)
A New York Times investigation into the questionable ways Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s founder, and Sheryl Sandberg, its Chief Operating Officer, have worked to contain and distract from the company’s biggest scandals, including reports of Russian Facebook accounts influencing the 2016 presidential election, inappropriate data mining and sharing, and the platform having no actionable policy against hate speech.
Divided We Stand
Sasha Issenberg | New York Magazine | November 14, 2018 | 25 minutes (6,466 words)
As partisan divides in the U.S. grow into partisan chasms, maybe it’s time for a trial separation.
Perversion of Justice
Julie K. Brown | Miami Herald | November 28, 2018 | 74 minutes (18,700 words)
Jeffrey Epstein allegedly assaulted dozens of underage girls, many repeatedly. His plea deal led to just 13 months in jail, was kept from his victims, and protects his abettors from prosecution. The prosecutor who approved the deal is now the U.S. Labor Secretary. How?
150 Minutes of Hell
Lizzie Johnson | San Francisco Chronicle | December 5, 2018 | 19 minutes (4,974 words)
A harrowing and heartbreaking reconstruction of a deadly fire tornado that tore through Redding, California during the Carr Fire earlier this summer. The fire killed eight people and ruined more than 1,000 homes.
He Helped Build an Artists’ Utopia. Now He Faces Trial for 36 Deaths There.
Elizabeth Weil | The New York Times Magazine | December 12, 2018 | 45 minutes (11,312 words)
“Max Harris did chores and collected rent at the artists’ warehouse where he lived. Now he faces trial for the deaths at a concert there — including some of his close friends.”
His Only Living Boy
Casey Parks | The Trace | December 12, 2018 | 33 minutes (8,260 words)
Roger Stringer, a father and gun owner in Mississippi, testifies against his older son, Zac, in the shooting that kills his younger son, Justin. Zac goes to prison, but eventually Roger learns that the rifle in the incident — a Remington Model 700 — is at fault.
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