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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The 2013 Jealousy List: The 41 Best Stories (and One Book) We Didn't Write

Illustration by 731
In this season of relentless kindness, envy is often sadly neglected. Which is why we bring you the First Annual Jealousy List, a compilation of the great pieces of journalism in 2013 that left Bloomberg Businessweek’s staff sick with resentment. Besides functioning as a very long “Bah, humbug,” it’s also a useful guide to the best work of the year by our peers at other news organizations. May they all receive a lump of coal—along with the satisfaction of a job well done. —Josh Tyrangiel
“Blood Spore”
Hamilton Morris’s great murder whodunit and character sketch for Harper’sincludes great paragraphs like this: “Undeterred, I moved on to Pollock’s girlfriend Mitzi, but her exact location was difficult to ascertain as she had just been released from prison after serving a ten-year sentence for intoxication manslaughter. Following Pollock’s death she had succumbed to opioid addiction, lost a suit against Pollock’s estate to recover kitchen utensils and stereo equipment she claimed were her rightful property as his common-law wife, and finally, while driving her Saturn under the influence of methadone and Xanax, decapitated a pedestrian.” Evan Applegate
“Arendt & Eichmann: The New Truth”
“The Defense of a Jewish Collaborator”
One of my favorite writers is Mark Lilla, a Columbia professor of the humanities, who writes for the New York Review of Books, among other outlets. His understated brilliance makes me jealous every time. His most recent pair of articles, on Hannah Arendt, Adolf Eichmann, Jewish collaborators, and the nature of evil, are typical envy-provokers. How can one guy know so much about so many different things and write about them with such confidence, verve, and common sense? Paul M. Barrett
“Here Is What Happens When You Cast Lindsay Lohan in Your Movie”
Stephen Rodrick’s New York Times Magazine story about the making of a trashy, microbudget film noir by writer Bret Easton Ellis, director Paul Schrader, and human train wreck Lindsay Lohan promises plenty of drama and dysfunction, and this story certainly delivers that. Schrader’s desperate ingenuity in dealing with disaster after disaster also, however, makes it read like a demented and particularly affecting entertainment-industry management case study. Drake Bennett [+1 from Jim Aley: "Shooting fish in a barrel so memorably and flawlessly is no small accomplishment."]
“Harper High School, Part One and Part Two”
In February, This American Life devoted two episodes to Chicago’s Harper High School, where 29 kids were shot last year—not in one mass shooting, but in a steady stream of violence. Three reporters spent five months inside the school, recording the lives of students and staff as they pay tribute to deceased friends, attend pep rallies, and explain why they try to stay inside as much as possible. It is a feat of immersive reporting. Emily Biuso
“Nick Saban: Sympathy for the Devil”
Warren St. John’s September profile of Alabama football coach Nick Saban in GQis a case of great access granted to the right person. The details are funny and sharp—”For breakfast, he eats two Little Debbie Oatmeal Creme Pies”—and expertly arranged into a convincing, human portrait of a man usually painted as a cartoon hero or villain. Ira Boudway
“Rob Ford in ‘Crack Cocaine’ Video Scandal”
I’m jealous of Robyn Doolittle and Kevin Donovan, who broke the Rob Ford story for the Toronto Star. Back in May, Ford was just a hard-drinking mayor who was prone to gaffes. Then they got the video of Ford smoking crack. That’s the kind of tip that should bring down a politician. The fact that it hasn’t is a story in itself. —Diane Brady
“Merchants of Meth: How Big Pharma Keeps the Cooks in Business”
Drug industry lobbyists are undercutting efforts by law enforcement and prosecutors in 25 states to make pseudoephedrine—a cold-and-allergy-medicine decongestant and key ingredient used by small-time shake-and-bake meth lab operators—a prescription drug. This is a great and richly reported dispatch from the war on meth addiction in Appalachia and the rural Midwest—and I resent Jonah Engle and Mother Jones for telling it. Brian Bremner
“Top Reviewers on Amazon Get Tons of Free Stuff”
Lisa Chow investigates the world of Amazon consumer reviews for Planet Moneyand finds that the top reviewers aren’t quite normal consumers: They are mini industries unto themselves, plied with small amounts of glory and tons of free merchandise. Is this a good thing or a bad thing? Maybe. Joshua Brustein
“How Janet Yellen Should Embrace the Fed’s Dissenters”
I love almost everything Reuters’s Felix Salmon writes, so it was hard to pick just one. I chose this because it was on my beat and about the length of one of our posts, making it enviable for its content and its discipline. Peter Coy
Stolen entire from Bloomberg-Businessweek. Via Posthip Scott.

Update April 2016 replaced missing image.

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