Esquire

119 articles
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The Loser

A profile of the boxer Floyd Patterson, after a painful loss to Sonny Liston.

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Mr. Bad News

A profile of New York Times obituary writer Alden Whitman.

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Peter O'Toole on the Ould Sod

After two years of filming Lawrence of Arabia, Peter O'Toole returns to his childhood home in Ireland.

Plus: 50 years later, Gay Talese remembers the late Peter O'Toole.

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The Last Night of the World

A couple peacefully contemplates their imminent destruction.

"I dreamt that it was all going to be over and a voice said it was; not any kind of voice I can remember, but a voice anyway, and it said things would stop here on Earth. I didn't think too much about it when I awoke the next morning, but then I went to work and the feeling as with me all day. I caught Stan Willis looking out the window in the middle of the afternoon and I said, 'Penny for your thoughts, Stan,' and he said, 'I had a dream last night,' and before he even told me the dream, I knew what it was. I could have told him, but he told me and I listened to him."

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Twirling at Ole Miss

A day after William Faulkner’s funeral and a few weeks before James Meredith became the first African-American student to register at the University of Mississipi, the author arrived in Oxford to cover the Dixie National Baton Twirling Institute.

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Risk and Romance Among NBA Groupies: An Embed’s Report

Sex in the NBA in the wake of Magic Johnson’s HIV announcement.

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Looking for Hemingway

On George Plimpton and the founders of The Paris Review:

Early in the fifties another young generation of American expatriates in Paris became twenty-six years old, but they were not Sad Young Men, nor were they Lost; they were the witty, irreverent sons of a conquering nation.

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I Am Large, I Contain Multitudes

A profile of Roseanne Barr and her multiple personalities.

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Nirvana

A husband struggles with the needs of his paralyzed wife and his creation of a hologram version of an assassinated President; new fiction from the author of The Orphan Master's Son.

"After the doctor left, I went into the garage and started making the President. A psychologist would probably say the reason I created him had to do with the promise I made Charlotte and the fact that the President also had a relationship with the person who took his life. But it's simpler than that: I just needed to save somebody, and with the President, it didn't matter that it was too late."

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Thurman Munson In Sun And Shade

The last great brawling sports team in America—Reggie, Catfish, Goose, Gator, and the Boss—remember their fallen leader.

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"Who's Gonna Get Me A Beer?"

An interview with a blotto Lee Marvin.

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American Ninja 2

In the wake of his grandmother's death, a young man struggles with intense bouts of anger.

"I'll describe the walls because that's easy — they were white, and I hurt my right pinkie knuckle-punching some of them while I walked through rooms searching for my car keys. My inability to find them frustrated me so badly that I beat up the bathroom door, limped away, and waved my fist at the plaster statue of Beethoven's head on top of the piano we never learned to play. After all that, I found the keys in a coat pocket I had already checked twice but somehow missed. I grabbed the video and made toward the back door, but on my way I noticed Sparkles cowering under the kitchen table, shaking, terrified of me. I hated myself a little extra, fed her a slice of manufactured cheese, patted her on the head, and took the back steps three at a time."

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Roger Ebert: The Essential Man

A profile of the late critic.

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The House of Hefner

Growing old at the Playboy Mansion.

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The Transformation of Johnny Spain

The early life of “the onetime Black Panther, protégé of George Jackson, and sole member of the San Quentin Six convicted of murder.”

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Theater of Pain

Being injured in the NFL.

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The Red Bow

After a tragic accident involving a rabid dog, grief drives citzens to extreme, illogical measures to prevent further occurrences.

"What I'm saying is, with no dogs and no cats, the chance that another father would have to carry his animal-murdered child into their home, where the child's mother sat, doing the bills, happy or something like happy for the last time in her life, happy until the instant she looked up and saw--what I guess I'm saying is, with no dogs and no cats, the chances of that happening to someone else (or to us again) went down to that very beautiful number of Zero. Which is why we eventually did have to enact our policy of sacrificing all dogs and cats who had been in the vicinity of the Village at the time of the incident."

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The Best-Kept Secret in American Journalism is Murray Kempton

“Four mornings a week Murray Kempton, the Huckleberry Finn of American journalism, climbs onto his bicycle and pedals out into the world in search of what may be there. For more than thirty years he has been finding things other writers have not even thought to look for, and he has done so with a compelling humanity that is rare not just in his profession but in the human race as well. I have followed him as he made his regular rounds, and I have eaten at his table, and I am not all that certain that he is not the greatest man I have ever met.”

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Deep Sleep

A Bosnian immigrant in Chicago undertakes some ramshackle detective work.

"Office 909 had a sign that read GREAT LAKES EYE and a black-and-white eye with long, upward-curling eyelashes. Pronek hesitated for a moment before knocking at the door--his fingers levitated, angled, in front of the eye. Pronek knocked using three of his knuckles, the glass shook perilously, then he opened the door and entered an empty waiting room. There was another door, closed, and there were magazines strewn on the few chairs, even on the musty floor, as if someone had searched through them all. The waiting room was lit by a thin-necked lamp in the corner, leaning slightly as if about to snap. A picture of an elaborate ocean sunset--somebody lit a match under the water--hung on the opposite wall. 'Acapulco,' it said in the lower right corner, 'where you want to dream.' Pronek stood in front of the picture, imagining Acapulco and all the pretty, tawny people there. It would be a good place to disappear for a while."

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Future Emergencies

A couple goes about their relationship while the world outside may or may not be descending into chaos.

"When the announcement was made, my first instinct was to hold my breath in case whatever it was had already been released into the air. 'What?' Victor asked, coming in and turning down the volume. I exhaled. 'Gas masks,' I said."

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He Came from Outer Space

Barry Zito, profiled.

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The Smartest Man in America

Profiles of people with genius-level IQs.

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The Fate of the Senate Is on This Man

A profile of Montana Senator Jon Tester.

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How to Build an American Car

The people behind “the only American luxury compact sport sedan.”

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The Honor System

On Teller, his magic, and his response to a stolen trick.

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The Secret History of Paul Thomas Anderson

The elusive director’s early years.

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Superman Comes to the Supermarket

On JFK and the 1960 Democratic National Convention.

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Keystone

On the economics, impact, and communities of the international pipeline.

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Aquarius Wept

When the Rolling Stones played Altamont.

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Memento Mori

An alternate take on Memento's amnesiac-detective concept, written by Christopher Nolan's brother.

"He is caught at the door to his room, one hand on the knob. Two pictures are taped to the wall by the door. Earl's attention is caught first by the MRI, a shiny black frame for four windows into someone's skull. In marker, the picture is labeled YOUR BRAIN. Earl stares at it. Concentric circles in different colors. He can make out the big orbs of his eyes and, behind these, the twin lobes of his brain. Smooth wrinkles, circles, semicircles. But right there in the middle of his head, circled in marker, tunneled in from the back of his neck like a maggot into an apricot, is something different. Deformed, broken, but unmistakable. A dark smudge, the shape of a flower, right there in the middle of his brain."

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The Lethal Presidency of Barack Obama

Drone strikes and their consequences.

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The Perfect Compliment

Experiments in making others feel good.

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A Few Words About Breasts

Nora Ephron on adolescence.

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The Heather Graham Story

A self-conscious celebrity profile.

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Riot Baby

On a child born during the L.A. riots, and South Central a decade later.

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Daddy: My Father's Last Words

An essay on language, fatherhood and forgiveness.

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Blond on Blond on Blond

A profile of the Hollywood star-maker behind Vanna White, Pamela Anderson and Jenny McCarthy.

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The Ruins of Joe Pa's Kingdom

The Penn State sex abuse scandal as told through a father, a son and “Victim 1.”

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Oliver's Evolution

The mishaps and growth of an accident-prone child.

"But Oliver had come late in their little pack of offspring, at a time when the challenge of child rearing was wearing thin, and he proved susceptible to mishaps. He was born with inturned feet and learned to crawl with corrective casts up to his ankles. When they were at last removed, he cried in terror because he thought those heavy plaster boots scraping and bumping along the floor had been part of himself."

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The American Male at Age Ten

A profile of Colin Duffy: fifth-grader, suburban New Jersey resident, ruler of the backyard, player of video games, boy.

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The Big Book

A profile of Robert Caro, who’s been working on a biography on Lyndon Johnson for nearly 40 years.

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Work

The stories of four men who’ve lost their jobs and desperately want new ones.

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The Man in the Glass House

A pilgrimage to J.D. Salinger’s New Hampshire home:

The silence surrounding this place is not just any silence. It is the work of a lifetime. It is the work of renunciation and determination and expensive litigation. It is a silence of self-exile, cunning, and contemplation. In its own powerful, invisible way, the silence is in itself an eloquent work of art. It is the Great Wall of Silence J.D. Salinger has built around himself.

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Animals

The night when Terry Thompson let his zoo-worthy collection of big animals, including lions and a bear, into the wilds of Zanesville, Ohio before shooting himself in the head.

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Bill Clinton: Someone We Can All Agree On

An interview with the former president about the upcoming election and American consensus.

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Counter-Terrorism Is Getting Complicated

A profile of the Waffle House terrorists, a group of senior citizens arrested by the Department of Homeland security for plotting a civil war, and the government-hired confidential informant who allegedly led the group astray.

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The Ballad of Johnny France

A Montana sheriff and a manhunt in the mountains.

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Chuck Berry Goddamn!

Now 85, Berry still records live music. He just doesn’t want you to hear it.

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Incarnations Of Burned Children

Two parents react to their child's accidental scalding.

"The Daddy was around the side of the house hanging a door for the tenant when he heard the child's screams and the Mommy's voice gone high between them. He could move fast, and the back porch gave onto the kitchen, and before the screen door had banged shut behind him the Daddy had taken the scene in whole, the overturned pot on the floortile before the stove and the burner's blue jet and the floor's pool of water still steaming."

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Into the Light

After losing his sight at age 3, Michael May went on to become the first blind CIA agent, set a world record for downhill skiing, and start a successful Silicon Valley company. Then he got the chance to see again.

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Mercenary

The story of a professional assassin.

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Zone One: The Beginning

The opening to Zone One, Colson Whitehead's new zombie novel

"Just another day at the office when she gets bit by some New York whacko while loading up on spring mix at the corner deli's Salad Lounge. Full of plague but unaware. That night the shivers came, and the legendary bad dreams everyone had heard about and prayed against—the harbingers, the nightmares that were the subconscious rummaging through a lifetime for some kind of answer to or escape from this trap. With those early strains, you might last a whole day without flipping. She returns to her cubicle the next day because she hadn't taken a sick day in years."

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Twin Forks

The new owner of the Twin Forks Store and Campground encounters some trouble.

"The sheriff had said, 'You probably should've shot him while you could do it legal and get it over with. He might be back for you, or you might not ever see him again, who knows with meth heads. But you surely will want to be ready if ever he does come around for you, and that could be at any time from now on.'"

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The Survivor

When your family is murdered, and the home you had made together is destroyed, and you yourself are beaten and left for dead — as happened to Bill Petit on the morning of July 23, 2007 — it may as well be the end of the world. It is hard to see how a man survives the end of the world. The basics of life — waking up, walking, talking — become alien tasks, and almost impossibly heavy, as you are more dead than alive. Just how does a man go about surviving such a thing? How does a man go on?
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Michael Stipe Has Great Hair

A profile of the R.E.M. frontman.

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Jon Stewart and the Burden of History

A profile of the comedian who’s “not so funny anymore”:

Jon Stewart has made a career of avoiding "Whooo" humor. He has flattered the prejudices of his audience, but he has always been funny, and he has always made them laugh. At the Juan Williams taping, however, at least half of Stewart's jokes elicited the sound of Whooo! instead of the sound of laughter. He's been able to concentrate his comedy into a kind of shorthand — a pause, or a raised eyebrow, is often all that is necessary now — but a stranger not cued to laugh could be forgiven for not laughing, indeed for thinking that what was going on in front of him was not comedy at all but rather high-toned journalism with a sense of humor. Which might be how Jon Stewart wants it by now.

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The Crack-Up

If you are young and you should write asking to see me and learn how to be a somber literary man writing pieces upon the state of emotional exhaustion that often overtakes writers in their prime -- if you should be so young and fatuous as to do this, I would not do so much as acknowledge your letter, unless you were related to someone very rich and important indeed. And if you were dying of starvation outside my window, I would go out quickly and give you the smile and the voice (if no longer the hand) and stick around till somebody raised a nickel to phone for the ambulance, that is if I thought there would be any copy in it for me.
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The Theory of Everything

At work with the scientists standing on the precipice of a grand unified theory of the universe. Or failure.

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The Prisoners of Guantánamo

The life history of an unassuming Sudanese man, Noor Uthman Muhammed, who has spent the last nine years in Guantánamo Bay prison.

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Everest at the Bottom of the Sea

In 1956, an ocean liner named the Andrea Doria sank off the coast of Cape Cod. Half a century later, deep-sea divers—the author included—were still risking their lives to explore it.

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Night Stand

From the author of Winter's Bone: A Vietnam War veteran grapples with the aftermath of killing a home intruder.

" A year after his return Pelham ceased to mention Vietnam to new acquaintances, dropped it from the biography of himself he’d give if asked. Only those who knew him before he went were certain that he’d gone. Jill was a second wife, fifteen years his junior, a lovely, patient blond, and remembered Vietnam as a tiresome old television show that’d finally been canceled about the time she left third grade. "

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The String Theory

A footnoted inquiry into the physics and metaphysics of tennis.

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The Bomb That Didn't Go Off

On a failed attack in Spokane and the fragments of homegrown terrorism in the United States.

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Vetville

Alan Beaty’s Tennessee farm serves an unofficial halfway house for Marines struggling with their return to civilian life.

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The Perfect Fire

It started with a candle in an abandoned warehouse. It ended with temperatures above 3,000 degrees and the men of the Worcester Fire Department in a fight for their lives.

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A Touch of Eden

A visit to the French hideaway of Ira Einhorn, co-founder of Earth Day, who had avoided arrest on murder charges for nearly 20 years.

From our guide to fugitives for Slate.
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Mark of a Murderer

Two killers and one cop: The story of the LaMarca family, told over three generations.

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Romney Doesn't Scare Obama. This Guy Does.

A profile of GOP hopeful Jon Huntsman.

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Father of the Year

A profile of John Lasseter, chief creative officer at Pixar.

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John Demjanjuk: The Last Nazi

John Demjanjuk has had a huge year. Twenty years after being sentenced to die, he finally climbed to the pinnacle of the Wiesenthal Center's list of Nazi war criminals this April, shortly after the Germans filed the arrest warrant that allowed the OSI to put him on the jet to Munich.
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Walking the Border

Over the course of a year, Luke Dittrich will be walking the entire 1,933 miles of the Mexico-US border “from the beach to Gulf” with a stroller. The first in a series.

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My Mom Couldn't Cook

A personal essay about family through the lens of mashed potatoes.

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Jeff Bridges Makes a Decision

On what you do when you can do whatever what you want.

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Adventures in Extreme Science

A profile of computational biologist Eric Schadt, the guy who’s figuring out what comes next after the Human Genome Project.

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Interview: Chris Rock

"Howard Stern's a bad motherfucker, man..if I had to be on six hours a day, it would be just as nasty and foul and not sophisticated. The fact that you're going to see me do an hour every four years? Reduce Howard Stern to an hour every four years, you'd have the most brilliant comedian who ever lived. It's not even close."
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The School

First-person accounts from the 2004 siege of a Russian school in Beslan by Chechen terrorists.

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The Hunter Becomes the Hunted

Omar Mohammed (most certainly not his real name), a former Iraqi cop, is widely believed to be the most skilled and prolific terrorist hunter alive. Recently, he personally killed two of Al-Qaeda’s senior commanders in Iraq. He has already been shot and blown up, and with U.S. forces on their way out, his chances of survival in Baghdad are slim.

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The Worst Story I Ever Heard

Nobody loved chimpanzees more than St. James Davis and his wife LaDonna; the couple spent more than 30 years—and gained a modicum of fame—raising one as their son. Then they almost died in a brutal chimp attack.

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Why Does Roger Ailes Hate America?

A profile of Roger Ailes, CEO of Fox News.

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Steve Jobs and the Portal to the Invisible

A profile of Jobs. The themes: immortality, relinquishing control, and how being adopted affected his choices for Apple. The lede: “One day, Steve Jobs is going to die.”

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The House That Thurman Munson Built

The life, death, and ghost of a catcher.

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Christian Bale May Kill Someone Yet

"Why are you putting all that muddle in your brain that's not needed to be there?"

An interview about why giving interviews is totally worthless.

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The Strange Happiness of the Emergency Medic

On what you come to appreciate after a short apprenticeship with paramedics.

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The Gun

Adapting from his book The Gun, Chivers traces how the design and proliferation of small arms, originating from both the Pentagon and the Russian army, rerouted the 20th century.

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The Brain That Changed Everything

The brain of Henry Molaison gave science most of what it knows about memory. Dr. Jacopo Annese believes there’s even more to learn.

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Before Greg Giraldo Was Greg Giraldo

Ten years ago, Esquire did a piece about Harvard Law grads who had eschewed their degrees. One of them was the late comedian.

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A Visit to Val Kilmer’s New Mexico Ranch

Where crazy things seem normal and normal things seem crazy.

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My Favorite Teacher

Mr. Lindall was the only high school teacher who understood him. Then Mr. Lindall went to jail, and it was his turn to try to understand.

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Eleven Lives

The stories of the eleven men who died on the Deepwater Horizon.

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The Silent Season of a Hero

The complicated post-retirement life of Joe DiMaggio.

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Secrets of the Little Blue Box

How phone phreakers, many of them blind, opened up Ma Bell to unlimited free international calling using a technical manual and a toy organ.

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The Confessions of Bob Greene

Evidence of a decades-old hotel trist with a teenage intern costs a beloved Chicago columnist his job - and his identity.

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The Things That Carried Him

The pain and beauty of U.S. military funerals. The author follows fallen soldier Joe Montgomery from field to grave.

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TV’s Crowning Moment of Awesome

How a card-counting former meteorologist from Las Vegas made the first perfect Showcase bid in the 38-year history of The Price Is Right.

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Gone

“What’s it like to be kidnapped and held for ransom, not as a political prisoner but as an economic one? What’s it like to live in the Ecuadoran jungle for 141 days? What’s it like not to sleep, to be bound in chains, to have your body invaded by living things, to waste away to the point of death?…What’s it like? This is what it’s like.”

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I Think You're Fat

Adventures in something called “Radical Honesty.”

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The Programmer Saving Our Souls

Are video games capable of emotion?

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Home

After the explosion of the Columbia shuttle in 2003, two American astronauts aboard the International Space Station suddenly found themselves with no ride home.

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The Falling Man

In the days after 9/11, a photo of an unknown man falling from the South Tower appeared in publications across the globe. This is the story of that photograph, and of the search to find the man pictured in it.

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The Last Penal Colony

The island of Coiba off the coast of Panama is both a nature preserve and an open-air prison.

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Nick Nolte: Malibu’s Mad Scientist

How the actor ended up with a house full of tourniquets and syringes, an unflinching belief in the restorative powers of “ozone,” and the brain scan of someone who has “experienced the equivalent of blunt trauma.”

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Inside the Bunker with Holocaust Deniers

The inner workings of a surprisingly amiable Holocaust denial conference.

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Tonight on Dateline This Man Will Die

Bill Conradt, a well-known prosecutor, never showed up at the house in Murphy, Texas, where police and a crew from NBC’s To Catch a Predator were waiting. So they, along with a SWAT team, went to Conradt.

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The Man Who Never Was

How Todd Marinovich, engineered from birth to be the greatest quarterback of all time, ended up a heroin junkie while still playing pro football. A 2010 National Magazine Award winner.

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The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen

The improbable and true story of how Al Sharpton, Cornel West, Marion Barry’s wife, and Tucker Carlson (yes, that Tucker Carlson) flew to Liberia to negotiate a ceasefire in the midst of a civil war.

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Convincing a Murderer Not to Die

When Christian Longo, who brutally murdered his family, was on the lam in Mexico he posed as a NYT reporter named Michael Finkel. From Death Row, Longo asked the real Finkel to attend his execution.

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“Oh My God—We Hit a Little Girl”

The true story of M Company: from Fort Dix to Vietnam in 50 days.