News & Politics

Washingtonian’s Best Longreads of 2017

10 great feature stories published in Washingtonian that are worth another read.

Meet Matt Boyle, Breitbart’s (Other) Man in the White House by Luke Mullins

Photograph by Jeremy Liebman.

This is the story of how Breitbart News’ DC bureau chief, Matt Boyle, went from an outsider ridiculed for his awkward mien and his activist tendencies to one of the best-wired reporters in town. A must-read about the new Washington.

The Tumultuous Life and Lonely Death of Marion Barry’s Only Son by Harry Jaffe

Marion, Chris and Effi Barry at St. Albans. Photograph by Ruth Fremson/Washington Times.
During his short lifetime, Christopher Barry had access to some of the city’s fanciest circles. It wasn’t enough. The late mayor’s biographer tells the fascinating story of what went wrong.

A Gay DC Power Couple is Remaking a West Virginia Town. Not Everyone is Happy About It. by Marisa M. Kashino

Photograph by Josh Cogan.
Long before the rise of Donald Trump made it fashionable for liberals to talk about moving to red states, Paul Yandura and Donald Hitchcock blew up their careers in politics, decamped to a tiny town near the Lost River Valley, and started turning it into a weekend destination. It’s a great story of a turnaround—unless you’re one of their neighbors.

Sally Quinn’s Next Act by Michelle Cottle

Photograph by Heidi Niemala.
Photograph by Heidi Niemala.
She was the uber-hostess of old-school Georgetown—and, of course, Ben Bradlee’s wife. Three years after his death, what’s next for Sally Quinn? Why, a dive into the supernatural.

The Strange, Spectacular Con of Bobby Charles Thompson by Daniel Fromson

Photographs courtesy of Ohio Attorney General, Ohio Investigators, AP Images, and Reprinted with Permission of Tampa Bay Times.
Donors all over America thought they were helping a military charity. Pols all over Washington thought they were hobnobbing with a VIP. But not only was he not a legitimate fundraiser for military families, he wasn’t even Bobby Thompson. Daniel Fromson went inside the epic hunt to catch one of the country’s biggest con men.

I Walked 64 Miles Around the Beltway. What the Hell Was I Thinking? by Jeff Himmelman

Photograph by Evy Mages
No ever confused the highway ringing Washington with a scenic nature trail. But on a six-day hike along its periphery, this born-and-bred Washingtonian found moments of surprising beauty, tolerated excruciating blisters, and learned quite a lot about his hometown.

The Billionaire and the Flood: How a Tragedy Transformed the Greenbrier Resort and the Blue-Collar Town that Depended on It by Elaina Plott

For decades, the Greenbrier, upper left, has provided jobs to White Sulphur Springs, the town down the hill. Photograph by Sam Dean.
In June of 2016, a historic flood lashed White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, a town that’s home to a resort that draws Washington’s rich and powerful as well as the staff who take care of them. Elaina Plott decamped to the Greenbrier to report on how what happened afterward surprised everyone.

Jeni Stepanek’s Last Heartsong by Justin Heckert

Mattie and Jeni Stepanek. Photograph courtesy of Jeni Stepanek.
Her son was a celebrity, the little boy poet with a devastating disease who earned a following around the world. Fighting that same illness—and now, a constellation of other afflictions—the Rockville resident looks back on what a brief but wondrous thing it was to be Mattie Stepanek’s mom.

The Secret, Dark, and Twisted Story Behind the Gifford Family’s ice Cream Empire by Ashley Powers

Photograph courtesy of Andrew Gifford.
The interior of a Gifford’s in Arlington. Photograph courtesy of Andrew Gifford.
For generations of Washingtonians, Gifford’s was synonymous with wholesome fun. Ever after the chain collapsed amid allegations of financial impropriety, a strong of entrepreneurs sought to revive the beloved brand. But as Ashley Powers found out, the last surviving member of the dynasty says the real history of Gifford’s was more sinister than anyone knew.

Spies, Dossiers, and the Insane Lengths Restaurants Go to Track and Influence Food Critics by Jessica Sidman

Photo-illustration by C.J. Burton.
Photo-illustrations by C.J. Burton.

Some top DC dining rooms will do anything for a great review. A juicy read about kitchen counterespionage!

Kristen Hinman
Articles Editor

Kristen Hinman has been editing Washingtonian’s features since 2014. She joined the magazine after editing politics & policy coverage for Bloomberg Businessweek and working as a staff writer for Voice Media Group/Riverfront Times.