From Orange County’s empty evangelical cathedral to the even darker side of Reagan’s “welfare queen,” The Daily Beast picks the best journalism from around the web this week.
Where Are the People?
Jim Hinch, American Scholar
Evangelical Christianity in America is losing its power. What happened to Orange County’s Crystal Cathedral shows why.
The Welfare Queen
Josh Levin, Slate
In the 1970s, Ronald Reagan villainized a Chicago woman for bilking the government. Her other sins—including possible kidnappings and murders—were far worse.
How John McCain Turned His Clichés Into Meaning
Mark Leibovich, The New York Times Magazine
The “brave maverick” who became the “bitter old man” is now “learning to let go.”
The Other Side of the Story
Jenny Kutner, Texas Monthly
When she was fourteen, she had a relationship with her eighth grade history teacher. People called her a victim, and him a villain. Now, she says, it was more complicated than that.
Extracting the Woodchuck
Adam Kirsch, Harvard Magazine
Robert Frost’s “doubleness,” revealed in his letters—and poems.
Was Skylar Neese Murdered By Her Best Friends?
Caroline Linton, The Daily Beast
Skylar, Rachel, and Shelia were the best of friends—until one of them went missing and the other two were implicated in a grisly murder case that has upended their idyllic town.
From New York’s homeless children to the retired FBI agent who disappeared on a rogue CIA mission, The Daily Beast picks the best journalism from around the web this week.
Andrea Elliott, The New York Times
There are more than 22000 homeless children in New York, the highest number since the Great Depression. This is one of their stories.
The Lobotomy Files
Jenn Ackerman and Tim Gruber, The Wall Street Journal
A cache of musty documents lost to memory exposes a time when the U.S. lobotomized some 2,000 veterans. The nation forgot. But Roman Tritz remembers.
Missing American in Iran Was on Unapproved Mission
Matt Apuzzo and Adam Goldman, Associated Press
Retired FBI agent Robert Levinson was arrested in Iran in 2007 and is now the longest-held hostage in American history. Now, a new investigation shows he was working for the CIA—and went on a rogue mission.
State of Deception
Ryan Lizza, The New Yorker
Can the intelligence community be reformed?
Reverse-Engineering a Genius
Kurt Andersen, Vanity Fair
How did Johannes Vermeer manage to create such photo-realistic paintings in the 17th Century—and did he get help? A Texas tech company founder named Tim Jenison decided to try to find out if Vermeer could have used a camera-like contraption to create his art, by recreating one of the paintings himself.
Inside the Power of the NRA
Robert Draper, The New York Times Magazine
It has been a year since the Newtown shootings. Federal gun laws haven’t changed. Here is why.
From the death of Nelson Mandela to the exploding Christian entertainment industry in Dallas, The Daily Beast picks the best journalism from around the web this week.
The Miracle Maker
Sam Seibert, The Daily Beast
The extraordinary life of the man who liberated South Africa—and then kept the country from falling apart.
Tom Scocca, Gawker
From literature to politics, smarm—an insistence on civility, a finger-wagging disapproval of negativity—is doing its best to keep the cultural elite insulated from criticism.
The Homeschool Apostates
Kathryn Joyce, The American Prospect
They were raised to carry the fundamentalist banner forward and redeem America. Now, the “Joshua Generation” is rebelling.
What Would Jesus Film?
Christopher Kelly, D Magazine
With a little oil money and a lot of faith, Dallas has become the production center for Christian entertainment.
From the animal injury epidemic on Hollywood movie sets to Washington’s trouble with the new legal marijuana economy, The Daily Beast picks the best journalism from around the web this week.
Animals Were Harmed
Gary Baum, The Hollywood Reporter
The epidemic of animal injury on major Hollywood movie sets reveals the dark irony of the American Humane Association’s system of verifying that “no animals were harmed.”
Long Way Home
Rosanne Cash, Oxford American
The daughter of American folk icon Johnny Cash on her life in Tennessee.
Patrick Radden Keefe, The New Yorker
Washington State finds out how hard it is to set up a legal marijuana economy.
Rumsfeld’s War and its Consequences Now
Mark Danner, The New York Review of Books
A political history of Donald Rumsfeld from the Nixon years to the war in Iraq that he promised would be over in three months.
The Book of Tebow
Thomas Lake, Sports Illustrated
He prayed. He won. And then he disappeared. Will we ever see Tim Tebow in the NFL again?
From the inside story of an elderly adjunct professor’s death in poverty to MOOC pioneer Sebastian Thrun’s admission of defeat, The Daily Beast picks the best journalism from around the web this week.
Death of a Professor
L.V. Anderson, Slate
An 83-year-old French instructor’s undignified death became a cause célèbre for exploited academics. But what really happened to Margaret Mary Vojtko?
Wall Street Isn’t Worth It
John Quiggin, Jacobin
Cutting the banks down to size isn’t just got politics—it’s good policy.
The Godfather of Free Online Education Changes Course
Max Chafkin, Fast Company
He captivated the world with visions of self-driving cars and Google Glass and has signed up 1.6 million students for online classes. So why is he pivoting away from MOOCs? “We don’t educate people as others wished, or as I wished,” says online education pioneer Sebastian Thrun.
How is Hamid Karzai Still Standing?
William Dalrymple, The New York Times Magazine
Enemies left, enemies right, and then there’s his family. Building an Afghan legacy is even more complicated than it appears.
Burkhard Bilger, The New Yorker
Inside Google quest to create a self-driving car.
The Hip Hop Poseur
Terrence McCoy, Miami New Times
Jimmy Sabatino can’t stop scamming—even though he’s in prison.
From a harrowing pregnancy at the edge of the world to creationists’ last stand against science education, The Daily Beast picks the best journalism from around the web this week.
Thanksgiving in Mongolia
Ariel Levy, The New Yorker
A journalist’s harrowing, heartbreaking story of her miscarriage while on assignment in a remote corner of Asia.
Why We’re Allowed to Hate Silicon Valley
Evgeny Morozov, Frankfurter Allgemeine
It knows how to talk about tools but is barely capable of talking about social, political, and economic systems that these tools enable and disable, amplify and pacify.
The 40-Year Slump
Harold Meyer, The American Prospect
From 1947 to 1974, American workers brought home most of the wealth they produced. Since 1974, they’ve steadily lost power—and today, they’re getting just a fraction of the wealth they produce.
Creationists’ Last Stand on the Texas Board of Education
Brantley Hargrove, Dallas Observer
Will the anti-evolutionists who have had a stranglehold on American science education via the powerful Texas board be able to adapt to the new textbook market?
What Made The Beatles Great
Andrew Romano, The Daily Beast
The Fab Four’s success did not come from hours spent on stage in Hamburg or Liverpool—it erupted from a crazy combination of ambition, talent, and—most of all—arrogance.
From how Nazi science is influencing American abortion politics to hitmen who turn on those who hire them, The Daily Beast picks the best journalism from around the web this week.
The Nazi Anatomists
Emily Bazelon, Slate
How the corpses of Hitler's victims are still haunting modern science—and American abortion politics.
The A-Team Killings
Matthieu Aikins, Rolling Stone
Last spring, the remains of 10 missing Afghan villagers were dug up outside a U.S. Special Forces base—was it a war crime or just another episode in a very dirty war?
Oops, You Just Hired the Wrong Hitman
Jeanne Marie Laskas, GQ
Say you want someone, you know, eliminated—a lover, a business partner, a mother-in-law. There are guys out there who will do that. For a price. Then there's another kind of guy who looks and acts just like a regular hit man. But instead of doing the job, he turns sides and then you realize that you were his target all along.
Can You Have Religion Without God?
Moshe Halbertal, The New Republic
Ronald Dworkin and a religious worldview for secularists.
The Goddamned Bluebird and Me
Kathryn Schultz, New York
How Twitter hijacked a writer’s mind.
From Obama’s stumbling path on a Syria intervention to a Texas philanthropist’s search for a Ugandan killer, The Daily Beast picks the best journalism from around the web this week.
Obama’s Uncertain Path on Syria
Mark Mazzetti, Robert F. Worth, and Michael R. Gordon, The New York Times
A riveting play-by-play of the administration’s stumbling, halting move toward—and then away from—an intervention in Syria.
Samuel Moyn, The Nation
Why are philosophers invoking the notion of human dignity to revitalize theories of political ethics?
The Cost of Living
Stephen S. Hall, New York
As cancer drugs have become more expensive—in a few cases, staggeringly so—their effectiveness has often failed to rise in tandem. So some doctors are refusing to use them, asking the controversial question: Are a few extra weeks of life worth all that money? Inside an oncologists’ revolt.
Elizabeth Rubin, The New Yorker Online
How a Texas philanthropist funded the hunt for Joseph Kony, the deadly leader of Uganda’s guerilla Lord’s Resistance Army.
Why Can’t We All Just Get Along?
Robert Wright, The Atlantic
Squaring new research that suggests we’re “naturally moral” with the violence and chaos around us.
Blue Spark, Part One
Nelly Reifler, The Weeklings
On the tenth anniversary of Elliot Smith’s tragic death, a friend remembers her deep friendship with him.
From a Missouri town’s chilling war on two alleged rape victims to Cleveland’s experiment with worker-owned businesses , The Daily Beast picks the best journalism from around the web this week.
Nightmare in Maryville
Doug Arnett, The Kansas City Star
A Missouri town’s chilling war on two teenage girls who were allegedly raped by high school football stars.
The End of Ilth
Erik Reece, Harper’s
A network of worker-owned businesses in Cleveland has created environmentally sustainable jobs in low-income neighborhoods and a work environment that gives workers real input into company decisions and a share of the profits.
Facebook Feminism, Like it Or Not
Susan Faludi, The Baffler
How the growing “Lean In” industry trades structural reform for airy positive thinking.
My Year With Malala
Christina Lamb, The Sunday Times
In January, Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani schoolgirl shot by the Taliban, asked Christina Lamb to write her book. From theatre trips to a visit from Angelina Jolie, this is the story of their remarkable time together.
The Year of Living Carlos Dangerously
Marshell Sella, GQ
It may be hard to imagine why you’d read any more about Anthony Weiner, but Marshall Sella’s magnificent writing makes this profile worth overcoming your skepticism. It also proves that the best reporting often comes after the curtain falls.
From the final wedge between George W. Bush and Dick Cheney to private Christian schools’ war on gay teenagers, The Daily Beast picks the best journalism from around the web this week.
Allie Conti, Miami New Times
At age 13, she began posting suggestive photos of herself on the internet, and her growing fanbase pushed her for more. By the time she was an adult, Loli-chan would be suspended from her Catholic high school, committed to a psych ward, and driven to real sex work.
Peter Baker, The New York Times Magazine
How Dick Cheney finally lost the president.
Mimi Swartz, Texas Monthly
From Daniel Radcliffe’s struggle to shed the specter of Harry Potter to the NFL’s war on brain science, The Daily Beast picks the best journalism from around the web this week.
"The Snowden Files"
by John Lanchester, The Guardian.
When the Guardian offered John Lanchester access to the GCHQ files, the journalist and novelist was initially unconvinced. But what the papers told him was alarming: that Britain is sliding towards an entirely new kind of surveillance society.
by Susan Dominus, The New York Times Magazine.
A masterful take on the celebrity profile follows Daniel Radcliffe’s anguished, frenetic, and even dark effort to rid himself of the specter of Harry Potter.
"The NFL’s War on Brain Science"
by Mark Fainaru-Wada and Steve Fainaru, Sports Illustrated.
In an excerpt from their chilling new book, League of Denial, to be released next week, the authors chronicle the NFL’s struggle to keep the truth about how football ravages players’s bodies from coming to light.
"Cockblocked by Redistribution"
by Katie J.M. Baker, Dissent.
A leader of the internet’s “pickup artist” subculture finds his “game” frustrated by the women of Denmark, who curiously don’t seem to think they need an aggressive male to save them.
"Voice and Hammer"
by Jeff Sharlet, Virginia Quarterly Review.
Harry Bellafonte’s unfinished fight.
From the inside of Air Force One during the first moments after JFK was shot to the Afghan warlords waiting to pounce when the U.S. pulls out, The Daily Beast picks the best journalism from around the web this week.
"The Flight from Dallas"
by Chris Jones, Esquire.
by Ben Austen, Wired.
"The Death of Republican Ideas"
by Molly Ball, The Atlantic.
"Return of the Lion"
by Christian Neef, Der Spiegel.
From the GOP’s doomed obsession with killing Obamacare to Steubenville a year after its shocking rape controversy, The Daily Beast picks the best journalism from around the web this week.
by Jonathan Chait, New York.
The doomed goal of destroying the President Obama’s signature legislative achievement hasn’t lost any of its power to drive Republicans mad. Here are the plots they’ve tried, and the ones they’re still planning to try.
by Katie J.M. Baker, Jezebel.
A year after a shocking rape controversy and an even more shocking local response, a writer visits a town still feeling the effects of being vilified around the world. “From my office in New York, I could rally against rape culture without sympathizing with any of these people,” she writes. “In Steubenville, I couldn’t look them in the eye and tell them I thought they were necessary collateral damage.”
From the creepy feeder school for a secretive evangelical power network to why Millennials will turn American politics back to the left, The Daily Beast picks the best journalism from around the web this week.
by Jeff Sharlet, Killing the Buddha.
Inside a feeder school for The Family, a secretive global network of evangelical power players.
"How Chris McCandless Died"
by Jon Krakauer, The New Yorker.
The author of Into the Wild review new evidence that appears to close the case on how the subject of his bestselling book died in the wilderness.
"Hiding in Virginia, a Daughter of Auschwitz"
by Thomas Harding, The Washington Post.
Brigitte Höss lives quietly on a leafy side street in Northern Virginia. She recently was diagnosed with cancer and spends much of her days dealing with the medical consequences. She also has a secret that not even her grandchildren know: her father designed and built Auschwitz.
"Is Tom Matlack Bad for Good Men?"
by Theodore Ross, BuzzFeed.
The now-departed founder of the Good Men Project wanted to set an example and provide a forum for guys to express themselves about their own doubts and struggles, only to wind up alienating feminists, publishing an unapologetic rapist, and seemingly abandoning his own lofty ideals.
From the man who moved to a desert island to disappear to the case against humanitarian intervention, The Daily Beast picks the best journalism from around the web this week.
by Peter Beinart, New York Review of Books.
As Jews have come to enjoy unprecedented power in Israel and the United States, they’ve had the luxury of turning Palestinians into distant abstractions.
by The Editors, n+1.
Has there ever been a successful humanitarian intervention? This bracing essay, written before the U.S. intervention in Libya 2011 and published online for the first time this week, argues that only wilful blindness and revisionism allows liberal internationalism to maintain its prestige.
by Kent Russell, The New Republic.
Every week, we pick the best long-form journalism from the newest magazines and journals.
Bechdel Memoir May Cost S.C. College State Funding
Cast of the ‘Fun Home’ musical will perform amid controversy. More
Gabriel Garcia Marquez Dies
Obama calls him a great visionary.More
literary mets orgy
Gay Talese Analyzes ‘Mad Men’
Compares himself to Roger Sterling.More
Parents Hate ‘Captain Underpants’
More than ‘Fifty Shades of Grey.’More
top of the class
Donna Tartt Wins Pulitzer
Along with Annie Baker, Dan Fagin.More
Louisiana Making Bible State Book
Just passed first hurdle.More
‘The White Queen’ author Philippa Gregory usually doesn’t read historical fiction, a genre she’s mastered. But she’s making an exception for two books.