The Last Magazine
The year is 2002. Weekly newsmagazines dominate the political agenda in New York and Washington. A young journalist named Michael M. Hastings is a twenty-two- year-old intern at The Magazine, wet behind the ears, the only one in the office who's actually read his coworker's books. He will stop at nothing to turn his internship into a full-time position, and he's figured out just whom to impress: Nishant Patel, the international editor, and Sanders Berman, managing editor, both vying for the job of editor in chief. While Berman and Nishant try to one-up each other pontificating on cable news, A. E. Peoria—the one reporter seemingly doing any work—is having a career crisis. He's just returned from Chad, where, instead of the genocide, he was told by his editors to focus on mobile phone outsourcing, which they think is more relevant. And then, suddenly, the United States invades Iraq—and all hell breaks loose. As Hastings loses his naïveté about the journalism game, he must choose where his loyalties lie—with the men at The Magazine who can advance his career or with his friend in the field who is reporting the truth.
The Last Magazine is the debut novel from Michael Hastings, discovered in his files after his untimely death in June 2013. Informed by his own journalistic experiences, it is wickedly funny, sharp, and fast-paced: a great book about print journalism's last glory days, and a compelling first novel from one of America's most treasured reporters.
Penguin/Blue Rider Press
Praise for The Last Magazine
"Even from the grave Mr. Hastings has demonstrated anew an ability to reframe the debate. The novel....reads as vivid archaeology that reveals much about the present moment... The milieu of the book paints a picture of a treehouse where like minds connive and look for an opening. But far below them, there is the sound of sawing—steady and implacable. The tree will fall....Remarkable."
"Scathing, funny, rollicking."
"Frenetic and darkly funny."
"Terrifyingly funny ....entrancing, compelling."
"The Last Magazine is tender and brutal, worldly and inbred, high-minded and gross, smartly rendered and rough around the edges—and quite often hilarious...The Last Magazine is the funniest, most savage takedown of the American news media since Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail '72, by his hero Hunter S. Thompson."
"[The Last Magazine] is fast and funny and humane. When I put it down, it called to be picked up again."
"What makes this novel work--really, I can't think of a better little tome to take to the beach—is that it's just so much fun, so wicked, so amusing, and so brilliantly observed. The caricatures of people living and dead (career-wise) are only part of its charm. I haven't read a better send-up of hackery since the last time I dove into Evelyn Waugh's 1938 classic Scoop."
"As a provocative piece of thinly fictionalized nonfiction, [The Last Magazine] is a posthumous mission accomplished...Hastings's book is a message in a bottle that has belatedly washed up on shore to force us to remember how we landed where we are now."
"That voice. That witty, subversive voice we thought we'd lost, is back for one last romp. Hastings decodes the culture even more incisively in fiction, with wild bursts of imaginative mischief. So damn funny."
"[Hastings'] keen eye for the creatures of the New York media universe focuses on the fabricated lifestyles of that world's desperate inhabitants. Here, no one is immune....The suffering amid the insufferable is comic gold, and Hastings had no time for heroes. The world he created is filled with lost boys stamping their feet for validation. This could be the perfect summer bro comedy. Paging Judd Apatow!"
"A convincing account of the perils of war—and of the journalistic wars of an institution under siege from New Media.... The Last Magazine remains a loving account of a profession Hastings believed was honorable and tried to honor. Only the guilty have something to fear."
"Surely Michael Hastings would have savored the taste of revenge had he lived to see his first novel, The Last Magazine published...The humor throughout is searing....entertaining."
"The promise of this remarkable novel will never be fulfilled because it is that saddest of literary phenomena—the brilliant but posthumous first novel. Hastings, former Rolling Stone journalist and author of the memoir I Lost My Love in Baghdad (2008), was killed when his automobile crashed in June 2013. Here, in an apparently completed novel found in Hastings' files after his death, the protagonist 'Michael Hastings' is an intern at The Magazine, a newsweekly, and author Hastings has keen and considerable insight into the functioning of a Time-like periodical between 2002 and 2005, Iraq to Katrina. War reporter A. E. Peoria, who has been to Iraq (and elsewhere) for the magazine and is equal parts Neil Sheehan and Hunter Thompson, is the novel's focus. The scenes of war are graphic and horrifying, and those of sex every bit as graphic and pretty horrifying themselves. Peoria has read his Conrad and Graham Greene, and Hastings, the novelist, reminds one at times of the early Robert Stone. There is an interesting twist, although with its development, the book jumps the tracks a bit. Nonetheless, this is powerful, sharp, often funny, and very compelling reading."
"Hastings (The Operators, 2012, etc.) was one hell of a journalist, covering wars and geopolitical strife for venues like Rolling Stone and BuzzFeed. As it turns out, he would have made a fine novelist had he not died in a car accident in 2013. This 'secret' novel was resurrected from his files by his widow, Elise Jordan; it's a messy, caustic and very funny satire. His protagonist is a young journalist also named Mike Hastings, who has just landed his first job at The Magazine in the dying days of traditional journalism. In wry metacommentary scattered throughout the text, the character Mike—who claims he's the one writing this book—reflects on just what it is he's writing. 'Maybe I'm talking genres, and maybe the genre is corporate betrayal,' he says. 'Including the big decision that the entire media world is so interested in: Who and what is left standing?' Hastings, the author, tells the story of how Mike makes the journey from ambitious young man to cynical hack partially by showing us Mike's new friend A.E. Peoria, a classic old-school journalist who fuels his brilliant war reporting with alcohol and drugs and transvestite hookers. In the crevasse between his sanitary cubicle and Peoria's lewd adventures, our hero is also tracking the war of career strategy between his managing editor, Sanders Berman, and the international editor, Nishant Patel, whose favor Mike is carefully currying. Hastings chooses the start of the Iraq War to disrupt Mike's burgeoning career path. 'There's war in the backdrop, looming and distant and not real for most of these characters, myself included,' Mike says. In a way, the book reflects Hastings' career arc, from unpaid intern at Newsweek to becoming one of the essential war correspondents of his generation. A ribald comedy about doing time in the trenches and the bitter choices that integrity demands."
The Sublime and Terrifying Inside Story
"An exciting and enlightening exposé...iconoclastic...courageous..."
General Stanley McChrystal, the innovative, forward-thinking commanding general of international and U.S. forces in Afghanistan, was living large. He was better known to some as Big Stan, M4, Stan, and his loyal staff liked to call him a "rock star." During a spring 2010 trip across Europe to garner additional allied help for the war effort, McChrystal was accompanied by journalist Michael Hastings of Rolling Stone. For days, Hastings looked on as McChrystal and his staff let off steam, partying and openly bashing the Obama administration for what they saw as a lack of leadership. When Hastings's piece appeared a few months later, it set off a political firestorm: McChrystal was ordered to Washington, where he was fired unceremoniously.
In The Operators, Hastings picks up where his Rolling Stone coup ended. He gives us a shocking behind-the-scenes portrait of our military commanders, their high-stakes maneuvers and often bitter bureaucratic infighting. Hastings takes us on patrol missions in the Afghan hinterlands, to late-night bull sessions of senior military advisors, to hotel bars where spies and expensive hookers participate in nation-building gone awry. And as he weighs the merits and failings of old-school generals and the so-called COINdinistas—the counterinsurgency experts—Hastings draws back the curtain on a hellish complexity and, he fears, an unwinnable war.
Penguin/Blue Rider Press
Publication Date: January 5, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-399-15988-6, $27.95
Also available as an ebook
"The life of a general is something to see, especially when it's Stanley McChrystal, America's four-star, rock star commander, at the height of his power and panache in Afghanistan. It's a hard story to get, and hard to tell it well, but in the hands of Michael Hastings, it's a world-class job of reporting and a joy to read."
—Richard Ben Cramer, author of What it Takes and Joe DiMaggio
"An impressive feat of journalism by a Washington outsider who seemed to know more about what was going on in Washington than most insiders did."
—Frank Rich, The New York Times
"The most impact-laden story of the year...written by a perfect specimen of the new breed of journalist-commentator."
—Barrett Brown, Vanity Fair
"Destined to join the pantheon of the best of [war] literature, not just for its rock 'n' roll details, but for its piercing chronicles of a world gone mad."
—Matt Gallagher, The Daily Beast (read the review in its entirety here)
"Like Almost Famous, Hastings' astute war memoir is pitch-perfect...exciting and enlightening."
—Kirkus Reviews (read the review in its entirety here)
"Rolling Stone's Michael Hastings...embodies the pure journalistic ethos...the book provides vital insights about the war and how it has been run that are not available anywhere else."
—Glenn Greenwald, Salon
"This is one of the best reads, this is one of the best books I have read in more than the past year."
—Rachel Maddow, MSNBC
"This book is going to be read."
—Chris Matthews, MSNBC
"If anyone ever tells you that longform journalism is dead, point them in the direction of Michael Hastings."
—The Daily (read the review in its entirety here)
"Whether or not they wear the uniform, Americans should figure out for themselves why we are still in Afghanistan. The Operators presents a slew of reasons for getting out."
—Stars and Stripes (read the review in its entirety here)
"Hasting's first-class, engrossing reportage reveals unsettling yet human flaws behind one of recent history's most lionized military figures, and a war which purportedly began as a response to terrorism, but whose aims—in the author's estimation—remain ambiguous."
—Publishers Weekly (read the review in its entirety here)
"For nonfiction, the book was an unusually gripping read...The insanity and futility of the war are represented by the heart-aching death of Army Corporal Mike Ingram. The White House and Pentagon turmoil is told via the story of the rise and fall of General Stanley McChrystal, America's commander of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan. And the realities of journalism are presented through Hastings' account of his own decision-making process."
—Barry Eisler, New York Times bestselling author of The Detachment (read the review in its entirety here)
Michael Hastings was a contributing editor to Rolling Stone and a correspondent at large for BuzzFeed. Before that he worked for Newsweek, where he rose to prominence covering the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He was the recipient of the 2010 George Polk Award for his Rolling Stone magazine story "The Runaway General." Hastings was the author of critically praised three books: I Lost My Love in Baghdad: A Modern War Story, Panic 2012: The Sublime and Terrifying Inside Story of Obama's Last Campaign and the New York Times bestseller The Operators: The Wild and Terrifying Inside Story of America's War in Afghanistan, which was optioned for film by Brad Pitt's Plan B Productions. In 2010, he was named one of Huffington Post's Game Changers of the year. In 2009, his story "Obama's War," published in GQ, was selected for the Best American Political Writing 2009 anthology. Hastings died in 2013, and was posthumously honored with the Norman Mailer Award for Emerging Journalist. His novel The Last Magazine (Blue Rider Press) was published on June 17, 2014.
Order I Lost My Love in Baghdad
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Jacket art & illustrations in header: Tim O'Brien
Check out Michael's Amazon Author page