Longreads

We asked writers and editors to choose some of their favorite stories of the year in various categories. Here is the best in profile writing.

Seyward Darby
Executive editor, The Atavist

A Most American Terrorist: The Making of Dylann Roof (Rachel Kaadzi Gansah, GQ)

There was no piece of journalism in 2017 more honest or more raw than Rachel Kaadzi Gansah’s profile of Dylann Roof for GQ. Its brilliance began with an enviable lede—”Sitting beside the church, drinking from a bottle of Smirnoff Ice, he thought he had to go in and shoot them” — and persisted for the duration of what proved to be an unlikely profile. Unlikely, because Kaadzi Gansah didn’t set out to write it. She went to Charleston to cover Roof’s murder trial, planning to report on the families of his victims, but found herself drawn to the young man who sat, angry and…

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