Best of Salon: 2004

Gay couples tie the knot in San Francisco, we're still at war in Iraq, and George W. Bush is reelected.


Salon Staff
November 13, 2005 3:00PM (UTC)

2004 In honor of our 10th anniversary this month, Salon is scouring our archives for the best stories we've published. Every day for the next 10 days, we will be highlighting one year's worth of memorable pieces. We hope you enjoy them. And use our automated-letters feature at the bottom of this story to tell us what you think we missed.

The worst of Times
Two new books on the New York Times relive its recent crises. But while the Jayson Blair scandal made for splashy headlines, the real question is how the country's leading newspaper will recover from spreading lies about Iraq's WMD.
By Andrew OHehir

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Sylvia and Ruth
Ruth Tiffany Barnhouse was therapist for the most famous, and famously troubled, poet of our time. Shortly before her own death, she agreed to speak about her treatment of Sylvia Plath, and the regrets that still haunted her decades after Plath's suicide.
By Karen Maroda

Confessions of a semi-successful author
I've published several books, won adoring reviews, and even sold a few copies. But I've made almost no money and had my heart broken. Here's everything you don't want to know about how publishing really works.
By Jane Austen Doe

Old times there are not forgotten
John Wilkes Booth, the South's romantic villain, refused to accept the triumph of Northern values. Some things never change.
By David Talbot

God save us from the innocent and the good
Looking at Graham Greene's novels a century after his birth, we see a cool analyst of human venality and corruption -- who warned us long ago about the terrible effects of America's naive meddling in other nations' affairs.
By Laura Miller

The war for the soul of literature
Two critics, one revered and the other almost universally reviled, protest that the literary world has been taken over by big, bad, "ambitious" novels.
By Laura Miller

Welcome to the new cold war
It's Chirac vs. Cheney, SUVs vs. minicars, and pommes frites vs. freedom fries in the new transatlantic culture war. But here's what you don't know: In the global conflict for moral and economic supremacy, Europe is winning.
By Andrew O'Hehir

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Out-Foxed
How Rupert's red-state cable channel waved the flag and beat CNN.
By Geraldine Sealey

Brilliant mistake
Screenwriter Charlie Kaufman's "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" is a desperately moving ode to romance. Why do the filmmakers undercut its power with a bag of ironic tricks?
By Stephanie Zacharek

Beautiful losers
"America's Next Top Model," in which a panel of bizarre sadists shred the souls of genetically superior females, is the most entertaining, unpredictable reality show on TV.
By Heather Havrilesky

Dont dream its over
Former Crowded House frontman Neil Finn still writes songs than can stun you with their beauty.
By Kevin Berger

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Irresistible force
Stephin Merritt of the Magnetic Fields may be the best writer of love songs around today. But that doesn't mean he has to be nice.
By Thomas Bartlett

Devoured by demons
Klaus Kinski played the messianic monster, consumed by an epic lust and a taste for violence. His screen roles were pretty weird, too.
By Cintra Wilson

How does Tom Cruise rate?
After three decades on-screen, who should we compare him to? Redford, Cooper or Johnny Depp? My choice: Troy Donahue.
By Charles Taylor

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Rushs forced conscripts
American Forces Radio fires a daily barrage of Rush Limbaugh at its million uniformed listeners. So why are liberals kept off the military's airwaves?
By Eric Boehlert

George W. Bushs missing year
The widow of a Bush family confidant says her husband gave the future president an Alabama Senate campaign job as a favor to his worried father. Did they see him do any National Guard service? "Good lord, no."
By Mary Jacoby

A tale of two miseries
It was my first visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories. But, coming after the killing of Sheikh Yassin, it was a kind of sped-up course in fear and loathing.
By Gary Kamiya

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No one is going through what we are going through!
Sgt. Reggie Butler saw his gunner buddy die inches away from him as they patrolled in Sadr City. "I'll do everything I can to bring all the soldiers back," he says. "Anything."
By Phillip Robertson

Banished from the American dream
The Kesbehs were a hardworking immigrant family with a successful business and deep roots in Houston. But after 9/11, the U.S. kicked them, along with thousands of other Arab and Muslim families, out of the country. Now, in a land the children barely know, they wonder why their life has been shattered.
By Michelle Goldberg

Sports Daily
A week into the "now we know" era, how do we think about all those home runs by Barry Bonds? Plus: Week 14
By King Kaufman

Bushs war over gay marriage
The president finally caves to the Christian right and backs a constitutional amendment, the better to beat up John Kerry. But will his newly emboldened right-wing allies go too far?
By Tim Grieve

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Seeing red in Florida
Four years after the biggest voting debacle in U.S. history, many suspect that GOP officials in the crucial state are planning dirty tricks again.
By Farhad Manjoo

Hail to the Moon king
The deeply weird coronation of Rev. Sun Myung Moon in a Senate office building -- crown, robes, the works -- is no longer one of Washington's best-kept secrets.
By John Gorenfeld

Winter of love
Cautious Democrats worry that San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom's historic affirmation of gay marriage will help Bush win reelection. But as the right squabbles over the issue, his party may well thank him in November.
By Joan Walsh

Another crude slur
With a campaign of distortion and lies, the right-wing smear machine is trying to impugn the military honor of John Kerry.
By Joe Conason

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American nightmare
Bush's presidency has been a historic disaster. There's still time to rectify his Iraq blunder -- but first, he has to go.
By Gary Kamiya

Losing my religion
My mother is a black evangelical Christian -- and a staunch Democrat. The party failed her and millions of other religious folk, and that has to change.
By ZZ Packer

Looking for votes, finding America
Scared, angry and needing to act, I left California to volunteer for John Kerry in Pennsylvania. I changed some minds -- including my own.
By Jonathan Alford

Abused husband
My wife beat me for years and the one time I fought back I got fired for it.
By Cary Tennis

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How Iris Chang became a verb
The author of "The Rape of Nanking" inspired her friends by fearlessly confronting some of history's darkest moments. A eulogy.
By Paula Kamen

The Cruella syndrome
She's too rich! She's a boss from hell! She had a brow lift! Katie Couric, NBC's perky princess, is suddenly getting the media's queen-of-mean treatment. What's our problem with powerful women?
By Rebecca Traister

He loves me, he loves me not
Women are buying "He's Just Not That Into You" by the truckload to understand their failing relationships. But what if he is into you?
By Rebecca Traister

Sex, lies and the down low
Bestselling author J.L. King is the new public face of a not-so-new phenomenon -- "straight" black men who secretly sleep with men. Is he a savior to black women worried about HIV -- or a self-promoter fanning fears of a bisexual black bogeyman?
By Whitney Joiner

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What does marriage mean
Married life between a man and woman can follow many twists and turns. So why do gay marriages have to be so straight?
By Dan Savage

You are who you know
The new social software turbo-charges friendships, sexual hookups and the business of human relationship -- and could turn our lives into an open book.
By Andrew Leonard

How India is saving capitalism
For one Silicon Valley company, hiring Indian programmers wasn't about greed, it was about survival. A special report from Chennai, globalization's ground zero.
By Katharine Mieszkowski

I am what I ate
I'm a toxic waste dump, loaded with mercury -- and I don't even eat very much fish.
By Katharine Mieszkowski

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The hysterical skies
She survived a flight with 14 harmless Syrian musicians -- then spread 3,000 bigoted and paranoid words across the Internet. As a pilot and an American, I'm appalled.
By Patrick Smith

Will the election be hacked?
A Salon special report reveals how new voting machines could result in a rigged presidential race -- and we'd never know.
By Farhad Majoo


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