Best articles of the 2000s

This is a subsection of the larger Best Magazine Articles Ever list. The list introduction, top 25, and links to other decades are here.

* Rian Malan, “In the Jungle.” Rolling Stone, 2000. The story of how the song “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” made its way from a South African village singing troupe into a global hit, and all the exploitation, imitation, hucksterism, and imagination that made that happen. [Ed.’s note: The article was reprinted in the Best American Magazine Writing 2001” as well as by ColdType in September 2003. The article also prompted Francois Verster to create the Emmy-winning documentary ‘A Lion’s Trail.’]

* Kiedra Chaney, “Sister Outsider Headbanger. Bitch Magazine, 2000. What it’s like to be a black female metalhead.

* Robert Kurson, “My Favorite Teacher.” Esquire, March 1, 2000.

** Bill Joy, “Why the future doesn’t need us.” Wired, April 2000. The best magazine article I’ve ever read– by which I mean the piece that came out of nowhere and just knocked my socks off and changed the way I think about the human species.

* David Foster Wallace, “The Weasel, Twelve Monkeys and the Shrub.” Rolling Stone, April 13, 2000. [Ed.’s note: Republished in Evans’ The Best American Magazine Writing 2001.]

* Adrian Nicole LeBlanc, “Landing From the Sky.” The New Yorker, April 24, 2000.

* Simson Garfinkel, “Welcome to Sealand. Now Bugger Off.” Wired, July 2000.

* Bruce Feiler, “Pocketful of Dough.” Gourmet, October 2000.

* Malcolm Gladwell, “The Pitchman.” The New Yorker, October 30, 2000. Part story teller and part sleuth, he gets beyond the simple sound bite to the core of what drives Popeil and his process. The fundamental takeaway is the inseparability of product design and product marketing in building products designed to be coveted by the customer they are target for.

* Rebecca Mead, “You’ve Got Blog.” The New Yorker, November 13, 2000. Profile of two bloggers before I knew what a blog was.

* James McManus, “Fortune’s smile: Betting big at the World Series of Poker.” Harper’s Magazine, December 2000. McManus used his writer’s advance (to write a different article) to enter a satellite tournament, and ended up making it to the final table.

* William Langewiesche, “The Million Dollar Nose.” The Atlantic Monthly, December 2000. About Wine critic Robert Parker.

* Joshua Glenn, “Hermenaut of the Month: Philip K. Dick.” Hermenaut, December 22, 2000.

*William Upski Wimsatt, ““We Use Words Like Mackadocious”. An essay in the book, Bomb the Suburbs: Graffiti, Race, Freight-Hopping and the Search for Hip-Hop’s Moral Center, 2001. [Ed.’s note: The most original version of this article can only be found in this collection. Wimsatt’s Wikipedia page mentions the piece and the original source.]

* Ian Frazier, “Tilting at Tree Bags: The Tale of One Man’s Triumph Over Chaos, One Plastic Bag at a Time.” Mother Jones, January/February 2001.

* Mark Singer, “The Book Eater.” The New Yorker, February 5, 2001. Profile of Michael Zinman, turbine trader and collector.

* George Gurley, “Pleasures of the Fur.” Vanity Fair, March 2001.

* Sara Corbett, “The Lost Boys of Sudan; The Long, Long, Long Road to Fargo. The New York Times Magazine, April 1, 2001. The inspiration for the Eggers book. A stunning piece of reporting and writing.

** David Foster Wallace, “Tense Present: Democracy, English, and the Wars Over Usage.” Harper’s Magazine, April 2001. A tome to the politics of language.

* David Brooks, “The Organization Kid.” Atlantic Magazine, April 2001.

* Louis A. Markus, “Myth Matters.” Christianity Today, April 23, 2001.

* Andrew O’Hehir, “The book of the century.” Salon.com, June 4, 2001.

* Blaine Harden, “The Dirt in the New Machine.” The New York Times Magazine, August 12, 2001.

** James B. Stewart, “The Matchmaker.” The New Yorker, August 20, 2001. A revealing look into the secret world of Steinway Hall in New York City and one remarkable seller of pianos with troubled memories.

* Edward W. Said, “The Clash of Ignorance.” The Nation, October 22, 2001. In response to Huntington’s “Clash of Civilizations.”

* Slavoj Žižek, “The Desert of the Real.” In These Times Magazine, October 29, 2001. expanded version here

* William Langewiesche, “The Crash of EgyptAir 990.” Atlantic Magazine, November 2001.

* James B. Stewart, “The Real Heroes Are Dead.” The New Yorker, February 11, 2002. In 1998, Susan Greer, a divorced New Jersey housewife in her fifties, fell in love with Rick Rescorla, an old-fashioned man of action seemingly from a bygone era. He worked as vice president for security for a financial firm, Morgan Stanley Dean Witter. Three years later, Rescorla died a hero at the World Trade Center, a tragedy he had long foreseen. Like the best storytellers, Stewart builds his tale so masterfully that, even though you already know the ending, it’s still devastating, devastating, devastating.

* Burkhard Bilger, “The Riddler.” The New Yorker, March 4, 2002.

* Michael Pollan, “Power Steer.” The New York Times Magazine, March 31, 2002. Also available on Pollan’s website.

* Christopher Hitchens, “The Medals of His Defeats.” The Atlantic, April 2002. [Ed.’s note: Reprinted in Hitchen’s collection, Love, Poverty, and War: Journeys and Essays.]

* Elizabeth Gilbert, “Lucky Jim.” GQ Magazine, May 2002. [Ed.’s note: Appeared in The Best American Magazine Writing 2003, Volume 2008.]

* William Langewiesche, “American Ground: Unbuilding the World Trade Center.” The Atlantic Monthly. Part I: “The Inner World,” July/August 2002; Part II: “The Rush to Recover,” September 2002; Part III: “The Dance of the Dinosaurs,” October 2002. [Ed.’s note: Excerpts are available from The Atlantic. Republished as Langewiesche’s American Ground: Unbuilding the World Trade Center.]

* Gary Taubes, “What if It’s All Been a Big Fat Lie?” The New York Times, July 7, 2002.

* Alex Kotlowitz, ” The Trenchcoat Robbers: After Fifteen Years and Twenty-seven Banks, They Finally Tripped Up.” The New Yorker, July 8, 2002.

* Chuck Klosterman, “Viva Morrissey!” Spin Magazine, August 2002. About Morrissey fans in Mexico. Hilarious and insightful. [Ed.’s note: The original article published on Spin magazine is no longer available. The closest available copy is in Klosterman’s collection “IV”, available via Google Books.]

* Jake Silverstein, “What is Poetry? And Does it Pay?” Harper’s Magazine, August 2002. About an absurd convention for amateur poets in Reno.

* David Kushner, “The Wizardry of Id.” IEEE Spectrum, August 1, 2002.

* John Seabrook, “The Fruit Detective.” The New Yorker, August 19, 2002.

** Steven Kotler, “Vision Quest: A Half Centure of Artificial-sigh Research has Succeeded. And Now This Blind Man Can See.” Wired, September 2002.

* Chris Turner, “The Simpson Generation.” Shift Magazine, September 2002. Covers the popularity of the Simpsons, post-9/11 trauma, school shootings, Radiohead and more. It’s nonfiction, but reads more like poetry. It spawned the author’s book, titled “Planet Simpson“.

* John Jeremiah Sullivan, “Horseman, pass by: Glory, grief, and the race for the Triple Crown.” Harper’s Magazine, October 2002. The long piece that became the extraordinary book “Blood Horses.”

* James Fallows, “The Fifty-First State?” Atlantic Magazine, November 2002.

*** John Vaillant, “The Golden Bough.” The New Yorker, November 4, 2002.

* Michael Pollan, “An Animal’s Place.” The New York Times Magazine, November 10, 2002. It’s about meat eating, and farming, and nutrition, but mostly it’s about the hypocrisy of veganism or vegetarianism as an animal friendly way of life.

* Po Bronson, “A Prayer Before Dying: The Astonishing Story of a Doctor Who Subjected Faith to the Rigors of Science – And Then Became a Test Subject Herself. Wired, December 2002.

* Calvin Tomkins, “His Body, Himself.” The New Yorker, January 27, 2003. Profile of Mathew Barney.

* Suzanne Snider, “Est, Werner Erhard, and the Corporatization of Self-Help.” Believer, May 2003.

* Evan Wright, “The Killer Elite.” Rolling Stone, June 26, 2003. [Ed’s note: Available in Rolling Stone’s online archive by subscription only. Republished in The Best American Magazine Writing 2004.]

* Katherine Boo, “The Marriage Cure: Is Wedlock Really a Way Out of Poverty?” The New Yorker, August 18, 2003.

*Melanie Thernstrom, “Untying the Knot“The New York Times, August 24, 2003.

**** Tom Junod, “The Falling Man.” Esquire, September 2003.

* Tad Friend, “Jumpers: The Fatal Grandeur of the Golden Gate Bridge.” The New Yorker, October 13, 2003.

* William Langewiesche, “Columbia’s Last Flight.” The Atlantic Monthly, November 2003.

* Jennifer Egan, “Love in the Time of No Time.” New York Times Magazine, November 23, 2003.

* Charles Fishman, “The Wal-Mart You Don’t Know.” Fast Company, December 1, 2003.

* Malcolm Gladwell, “Big and Bad: How the S.U.V. ran over automotive safety.” New Yorker, January 12, 2004.

*** John Jeremiah Sullivan, “Upon This Rock: Rock Music Used to be a Safe Haven for Degenerates and Rebels. Until it Found Jesus.” GQ, February 2004. “Extremely funny and smart and profound meditation on much more than its title and subhead suggest.” “Hilarious and profound.”

* David Grann, “The Brand.” The New Yorker, February 16, 2004. A look inside the most murderous prison gang in America.

* Thomas Frank, “Lie Down for America.” Harper’s Magazine, April 2004. Later expanded into What’s the Matter With Kansas?

* Seymour M. Hersh, “Torture at Abu Ghraib.” The New Yorker, May 10, 2004.

* Adam Gopnik, Personal History, “Last of the Metrozoids.” The New Yorker, May 10, 2004. Personal, moving, cinematic. Adam Gopnik tells the tale of his friendship with art historian Kirk Varnedoe through his sons’ football team season and Varnedoe’s battle with cancer. Incredibly powerful.

** Stephen Dubner, “The Silver Thief.” The New Yorker, May 17, 2004.

** Chris Jones, “Home.” Esquire, July 1, 2004. A lovely meditation on loneliness and homesickness. Follows the astronauts on board the International Space Station when the space shuttle Columbia disintegrated on reentry in 2003, grounding the shuttle program and leaving them stranded in orbit.

******** David Foster Wallace, “Consider the Lobster.” Gourmet Magazine, Aug 2004.

* Gene Weingarten, “Fear Itself: Learning to Live in the Age of Terrorism.” The Washington Post, August 22, 2004. About riding a bus in Jerusalem.

** Chris Anderson, “The Long Tail.” Wired, October 2004. See the Wikipedia article on Long Tail.

** Ron Suskind, “Faith, Certainty and the Presidency of George W. Bush.” New York Times, October 17, 2004. The article that, among other things, explained how the Bush
administration thought of its critics as being stuck in
“reality-based” thinking.

** Mark Slouka, “Quitting the Paint Factory.” Harper’s Magazine, November 2004. One of the best things I have ever seen in print and gave me the courage to quit working in advertising and become a penniless artist.

* Andrew Corsello, “The Wronged Man.” GQ, November 2004 (republished November 2007).

* Tom Verducci, “Sportsmen of the Year.” Sports Illustrated, December 6, 2004.

* Walter Kirn, “Lost in Meritocracy,” The Atlantic, January/ February 2005.

* Bob Garfield, “Bob Garfield’s ‘Chaos Scenario': A Look at the Marketing Industry’s Coming Disasterz.” Advertising Age, April 13, 2005. A classic for anyone working in media today.

* Elizabeth Kolbert, Annals of Science, “The Climate of Man.” The New Yorker, April 25, 2005. [Ed.’s note: This is a three-part series.]

* David Grann, “The Lost City of Z.” The New Yorker, September 19, 2005. A quest to solve a mystery in the Amazon.

* James Bamford, “The Man Who Sold The War.” Rolling Stone, December 1, 2005.

* Jesse Katz, “The Recruit.” Los Angeles, March 2005.

*** Gene Weingarten, “The Peekaboo Paradox.” The Washington Post, Sunday Magazine, January 22, 2006. Story about the weirdest clown, the Great Zucchini, you’ll never want to meet. Keep reading….

*** David Foster Wallace, “Host.” Atlantic Magazine, April 2005.

* Annalee Newitz, “The Conglangers’ Art: Language Invetors Talk a New World Into Being — One Grammar At A Time.” The Believer, May 2005.

* Wells Tower, “Under the God gun: Battling a fake insurgency in the Army’s imitation Iraq.” Harper’s Magazine, January 2006.

** Malcolm Gladwell, “Million-Dollar Murray.” The New Yorker, February 13, 2006. In it, he follows a homeless alcoholic and talks with the hospital he is constantly in and out of and determines that the man costs them about a million dollars a year because he is uninsured.  Besides the fabulous writing and the incredible way in which Gladwell argues his point about how paying for insurance for the man is infinitely smarter, it is a story of how the argument that the gov’t shouldn’t take care of people in this way is leading us into economic hell.

* Jaime Wolf, “And You Thought Abercrombie & Fitch Was Pushing It?” The New York Times Magazine, April 23, 2006.

* Kevin Kelly, “Scan This Book.” The New York Times Magazine, May 14, 2006.

** C.J. Chivers, “The School.” Esquire, June 2006.

* Tim Zimmermann, “Raising the Dead.” Outside Magazine, August 2005.

******** David Foster Wallace, “Federer As Religious Experience.” The New York Times, Play Magazine, August 20, 2006.

* John Jeremiah Sullivan, “The Final Comeback of Axl Rose.” GQ, September 2006.

** Gary Smith, “Remember His Name.” Sports Illustrated, September 5, 2006.

* Michael Lewis, “The Ballad of Big Mike.” The New York Times Magazine, September 24, 2006. A condensed version of the film ‘The Blind Side.’

* Wells Tower, “The kids are far right: Hippie hunting, bunny bashing, and the new conservatism.” Harper’s Magazine, November 2006.

* Harriet Brown, “One Spoonful At A Time.” The New York Times, November 26, 2006. First-person account of a family’s descent into the hell of anorexia, and how they fought to save their daughter’s life. Became the book, titled “a href=”http://www.amazon.com/Brave-Girl-Eating-Struggle-Anorexia/dp/0061725471″>Brave Girl Eating: A Family’s Struggle with Anorexia,” about to be published by Morrow.

* Ben Wallace-Wells, “How America Lost the War on Drugs.” The Rollingstone, 2007.

** Jonathan Lethem, “The Ecstasy of Influence: A Plagiarism.” Harper’s Magazine, February 2007. The most intricately constructed piece of writing I’ve ever read.

* Jeanne Marie Laskas, “Underworld.” GQ, April 2007. Why do we even have coal mines? That question is what led Jeanne Marie Laskas to spend a few weeks 500 feet below ground, getting to know the man behind the invisible economy this country can’t live without.

***** Gene Weingarten, “Pearls Before Breakfast.” The Washington Post, Magazine, April 8, 2007. Joshua Bell is one of the world’s greatest violinists. His instrument of choice is a multimillion-dollar Stradivarius. If he played it for spare change, incognito, outside a bustling Metro stop in Washington, would anyone notice?

* Yegor Gaidar, “The Soviet Collapse: Grain and Oil.” AEI Outlooks, April 19, 2007.

* Atul Gawande, “The Way We Age Now.” The New Yorker, April 30, 2007.

* Tim Page, “Parallel Play: A lifetime of restless isolation explained.” The New Yorker, August 20, 2007.

* Jennifer Gonnerman, “School of Shock.” Mother Jones, August 20, 2007. It’s about the Judge Rotenberg Center in Massachusetts, which is a school for students with severe disabilities and behavioral problems. The big issue is that some students there can be punished with electrical shocks. This is an excellent article!

* Naomi Klein, “Disaster Capitalism: The new economy of catastrophe.” Harper’s Magazine, October 2007. “After each new disaster, it’s tempting to imagine that the loss of life and productivity will finally serve as a wake-up call, provoking the political class to launch some kind of “new New Deal.” In fact, the opposite is taking place: disasters have become the preferred moments for advancing a vision of a ruthlessly divided world, one in which the very idea of a public sphere has no place at all.”

* Walter Kirn, “The Autumn of the Multitaskers.” The Atlantic, November 2007.

* William Prochnau and Laura Parket, “Trouble in Paradise.” Vanity Fair, January 2008.

* Samantha Power, “The Envoy.” The New Yorker, January 7, 2008.

* Vanessa Grigoriadis, “The Tragedy of Britney Spears.” Rolling Stones, February 21, 2008. [Ed.’s note: Original article only available to Rolling Stone All Access members. A republished copy can be found here.]

* James McConkey, “What Kind of Father Am I? Looking Back at a Lifetime of Parenting Sons and Being Parented by Them.” The American Scholar, Spring 2008.

** Joshua Davis, “High Tech Cowboys of the Deep Seas: The Race to Save the Cougar Ace.” Wired, February 25, 2008.

*** Nick Paumgarten, “Up and Then Down: The Lives of Elevators.” The New Yorker, April 21, 2008. A great story about a guy who was trapped in a NY elevator.

* Wil S. Hylton, “Leave No Man Behind.” GQ, May 2008.

*** Chris Jones, “The Things That Carried Him.” Esquire, May 2008. It’s extremely moving without being saccharine or twee. It’s a military story, but utterly without jingoism or indictment. And it’s wonderfully observed.

** Joshua Ellis and Matt O’Brian, “Notes from underground: Exploring the Las Vegas storm drains.” Las Vegas City Lights, May 3, 2007. Became a book, Beneath the Neon: Life and Death in the Tunnels of Las Vegas.

* Adam Sternbergh, “The What You are Afraid of: A Mischievous Online Bogeyman is Haunting the Dreams of New Brooklyn.” New York Magazine, May 25, 2008.

* Chris Anderson, “The End of Theory: The Data Deluge Makes the Scientific Method Obsolete.” Wired, June 23, 2008. 

** Atul Gawande, “The Itch.” The New Yorker, June 30 2008. About a woman who itched so much that one day she scratched right through to her brain. 

* David Grann, “The Chameleon: The many lives of Frédéric Bourdin.” The New Yorker, August 11, 2008. 

* Peter Alsop, Livia Corona, “Fin: The Last Days of Fish.” Good, September 5, 2008. An excellent look at the sad state of our oceans and the fishing industry. 

* Paul Bloom, “First Person Plural.” The Atlantic, November, 2008.

****** Michael Lewis, “The End.” Portfolio, November 11, 2008. Breaks down supposedly complex economic cause and effect into very engaging, easily understood analysis.  Real life characters as interesting and entertaining as the best fiction.  A must. 

* David Samuels, “Atomic John.” New Yorker, December 15, 2008.

* William Langewiesche, “The Devil at 37,000 Feet.” Vanity Fair, January, 2009.

* Robert Fisk, “Robert Fisk: Why Do They Hate the West So Much, We Will Aak.” The Independent, January 7, 2009.  

*** Gene Weingarten, “Fatal Distraction: Forgetting a Child in the Backseat of a Car Is a Horrifying Mistake. Is It a Crime?” The Washington Post, Magazine, March 8, 2009. Winner of the 2010 Pulitzer Prize in Feature Writing. 

*** Michael Lewis, “Wall Street on the Tundra.” Vanity Fair, April 2009. It’s an in depth analysis of the financial collapse of Iceland. Excellent. There are some great one liners (this isn’t actually one of them, but it’ll give you the idea): “This in a country the size of Kentucky, but with fewer citizens than greater Peoria, Illinois. Peoria, Illinois, doesn’t have global financial institutions, or a university devoting itself to training many hundreds of financiers, or its own currency. And yet the world was taking Iceland seriously.” 

** Joshua Davis, “The Untold Story of the World’s Biggest Diamond Heist.” Wired Magazine, April 2009.  

* Charles Bowden, “The Sicario: A Juárez Hit Man Speaks.” Harper’s Magazine, May 2009. Easily the most terrifying report about Mexico’s drug cartel violence. 

* Dorothy and Thomas Hoobler, “Stealing Mona Lisa.” Vanity Fair, May 2009. 

** Skip Hollandsworth, “Still Life.” Texas Monthly, May 2009. A Texas teenager is paralyzed from the neck down in a sports accident. His condition requires that he always lay down. Skip Hollandsworth’s moving, detailed account captures a family who lived in a time capsule for over 30 years. 

*** Mike Sager, “Todd Marinovich: The Man Who Never Was.” Esquire, May 2009. 

** Brian Hickey, “Comebacks: Dead Man Talking.” Philadelphia Magazine, May 26, 2009.  

** Pamela Colloff, “Flesh and Blood.” Texas Monthly, June 2009.  

*** Joshua Wolf Shenk, “What Makes Us Happy?.” Atlantic Magazine, June 2009. An analysis of a 72-year study of 268 men who entered college in the 1930s that takes us inside the study’s mastermind, George Vaillant. 

** Colby Buzzell, “Down & Out in Fresno and San Francisco.” Esquire, June 16, 2009. Excellent piece on drug life in San Francisco. 

* Laura A. Munson, “Those aren’t Fighting Words, Dear.” New York Times, July 31, 2009. Possibly the best in NYT’s excellent Modern Love series.

* Michael Lewis, “The Man Who Crashed the World.” Vanity Fair, August 2009. About the collapse of AIG. 

**** David Grann, “Trial by Fire: Did Texas Execute an Innocent Man?” The New Yorker, September 7, 2009. Portrait of the unjust conviction and execution of Cameron Todd Willingham. The piece perfectly portrays the U.S.’s broken justice system; the way Grann unfolds the story is a slow hammer blow.

* George Saunders, “Tent City, U.S.A..” GQ, September 2009. The short fiction genius lives for a week in a homeless encampment. Brilliant, funny, honest, and deeply humane.

* Amy Wallace, “An Epidemic of Fear: How Panicked Parents Skipping Shots Endangers Us All.” Wired, October 19, 2009.

* David Grann, “Trail by Fire.” New Yorker, September 7, 2009. David Grann writing in the New Yorker gives a searing and utterly transfixing account of a man executed in Texas- who may just have been innocent.

* Thomas Lake, “The Debtor.” Atlanta Magazine, November 2009.

* Justin Heckert, “Lost in the Waves.” Men’s Journal, November 9, 2009.

* Evan Ratliff, “Writer Evan Ratliff Tried to Vanish: Here’s What Happened.” Wired, November 20, 2009.

* Ariel Levy, “Either/Or: Sports, Sex, and the Case of Caster Semenya.” The New Yorker, November 30, 2009. Wonderful, heartbreaking piece about the South African runner.

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