A highly personal list, alphabetical by author. Click here for previous lists.
Nikki Haley’s Time for Choosing
Tim Alberta, Politico
The type of surefooted, readable profile that comes from interviewing nearly 70 friends, associates, donors, staffers, and former colleagues.
An Act of God
Jon Lee Anderson, The New Yorker
A Pentecostal minister in Brazil, with six churches and thousands of followers, is brought down after her husband’s murder.
The “Herald Square Bomber” Who Wasn’t
Rozina Ali, The New York Times Magazine
How a 21-year-old refugee with a 78 I.Q. was entrapped and convicted of terrorism charges—after he refused to carry out a bombing.
In a Small Town, a Battle for Racial Justice Confronts a Bloody Past and an Uncertain Future
Carli Brosseau, ProPublica and The News and Observer
The definitive story of Alamance County, North Carolina, where BLM activists regularly face down neo-Confederates.
Olivia Carville, Bloomberg Businessweek
Two cousins who hate each other control the country’s Covid-19 swab supply.
The Limits of Liberalism
Jelani Cobb, The New Yorker
A profile of Derrick Bell, the legal scholar behind Critical Race Theory.
Owen Wilson Is Doing Great, Thanks
Ryan D’Agostino, Esquire
A celebrity profile with surprises in every paragraph.
The Last Days Inside Trailer 83
Hannah Dreier, The Washington Post
Two wildfire survivors, one partially paralyzed from a stroke, face eviction from their temporary FEMA home.
“Don’t Tell Me What To Do”
Atul Gawande, The New Yorker
Minot, North Dakota, 50 miles south of the Canadian border, has been hit hard by Covid-19, and by conflict over the role of government in addressing a pandemic.
Circles in the Dirt
Rajiv Golla, The Assembly
In the back of the NASCAR pack, “former legends and young guns battle for a small pool of attention and an even smaller pool of money.”
My Mother, Meat Alternatives, and Me
Latria Graham, Gravy
When her mother, facing serious illness, gave up meat, the author had some adjusting to do.
Farmworkers face a life-and-death commute to Arizona’s lettuce fields
Esther Honig, Food & Environment Reporting Network and The Nation
“The pandemic turned an already difficult commute into a hazardous and potentially deadly endeavor.”
Hot Boy Summer
Jazmine Hughes, The New York Times Magazine
Lil Nas X has endured “both the judgment of the church and the crueler corners of the internet, transgressing the former to find solace in the latter.”
We Went to Vegas to Wring Joy From Heartbreak
Mitchell S. Jackson, The New York Times Magazine
A story of lifelong male friendship at a time of loss.
What Can Covid-19 Teach Us About the Mysteries of Smell?
Brooke Jarvis, The New York Times Magazine
As the pandemic claims so many people’s olfactory senses, a report from the frontiers of smell science.
The wildfire was everywhere. Could a school bus driver and 22 kids find a way out?
Lizzie Johnson, The Washington Post
“You’d better be a good driver,” said one of the teachers.
The Lives of Others
Lindsay Jones, The Atavist
Two men, switched at birth in Come by Chance, Newfoundland, discover they weren’t alone.
Blood, Lies, and a Drug Trials Lab Gone Bad
Brendan I. Koerner, Wired
At this lab, you don’t want to be the employee with good veins.
What Do We Do About John James Audubon?
J. Drew Lanham, Audubon
The birders’ god was a racist slaveowner, and maybe also “in denial of his own identity.”
Is There a Right Way to Act Blind?
Andrew Leland, The New York Times Magazine
The protest of a TV show sends the author on an exploration of disability and performance.
The Crow Whisperer
Lauren Markham, Harper’s
“I’m just an old punk rocker,” says Yvette Buigues, “who happens to be able to communicate with animals.”
Among the Insurrectionists
Luke Mogelson, The New Yorker
One of the most intimate accounts of the January 6 attack on the Capitol, with the most context.
American Democracy Is Only 55 Years Old—And Hanging by a Thread
Vann R. Newkirk II, The Atlantic
“We were taught that Black folks had been granted a fundamental right in perpetuity” when the Voting Rights Act passed. “In truth the boundaries and contours of that right were in flux.”
The Deep and Twisted Roots of the American Yam
Lex Pryor, The Ringer
A haunting essay about “robbery, reinvention, and identity.” And sweet potatoes.
Twenty Years Gone
Jennifer Senior, The Atlantic
A family struggles to come to terms with 9/11.
He Thought He Could Outfox the Gig Economy. He Was Wrong.
Lauren Smiley, Wired
The story of a San Francisco DoorDash driver whose minivan was stolen — with his kids inside — and a deeper exploration of the culture and rotten economics of gig work.
We Were the Last of the Nice Negro Girls
Anna Deavere Smith, The Atlantic
What happened in 1968 when seven young women became the Beaver College Blacks.
Black Lives Are Shorter in Chicago. My Family’s History Shows Why.
Linda Villarosa, The New York Times Magazine
“How did a Promised Land to generations of Black families become a community of lost lives?”
Kyle Rittenhouse, American Vigilante
Paige Williams, The New Yorker
The most authoritative profile of the Kenosha shooter.