There are a couple real standouts here, though this collection wasn’t as sharp as some of the others in the Best American series that I’ve read (Science 2007, Science & Nature 2007, Comics 2006). As is tradition, here are my picks:
The Loved Ones is the must-read of the bunch. Tom Junod’s awesome reporting starts with Sal and Mabel Mangano. The two New Orleans nursing home operators were accused of negligent homicide when many in their care died in post-Katrina flooding (the couple was later acquitted). Along the way he hits on broader themes of journalist ethics, family, love, blame, and responsibility. One of the best pieces I’ve come across this year.
The School is another great one. C.J. Chivers narrates the horrifying Beslan school hostage crisis, when Chechen rebels took 1000+ kids and adults hostage, using them as leverage against the Russian government. It’s dramatic, troubling stuff.
My Roommate, the Diamond Thief is pretty much what it sounds like.
The Inside Job is Neil Swidey’s reporting how an employee of John Ferreira embezzled about $7 million dollars over a couple years, without his knowledge.