A CEO modeling underwear. An expletive-spouting billionaire with a tiny lapdog and a Dr. Evil air. Elk hot dogs, house music, and 714 billion cups of coffee. Those are among the journalistic treats in this issue.
But if you read only one article, make it Richard Behar's feature , beginning on page 100. It has its own spicy nuggets: crooked politicians, incinerated bodies, deadly parasites, billions of dollars changing hands, and the future of the planet hanging in the balance. It's eye-opening, remarkably entertaining, and — brace yourself — really long. In fact, it's the longest article Fast Company has ever published. But it is worth the investment of your time. I promise.
Behar is one of the most storied investigative writers of his generation. He took on the Church of Scientology for Time, helped put an end to the New York mafia's control of the garbage industry for Fortune, and unmasked mobsters from Russia to Southeast Asia. He has won 20 top journalism awards and is one of the most intrepid reporters anywhere. We sent him to Africa. He was the first American journalist in three years to get into Equatorial Guinea, and he talked his way in to see the dictator's son, who runs the energy ministry. He went into the forests of Mozambique, trailed bribe-paying loggers, accosted unsavory wheeler-dealers, and brought back a potentially deadly parasite to boot.
He also brought back a richly woven story of global importance, about the high-stakes battle for raw materials, an unseen war between China and the United States — one that China is clearly winning — and the implications for an African population with so much natural wealth and so little to show for it. There are consequences, too, for global consumers, whose complicity in all that is more than we realize.
I can't do justice to Behar's special report, masterfully edited by executive editor Will Bourne, in this small space, but I hope you'll settle in and read this saga. It's the kind of article that people like me go into this business to help create. You'll never look at the world the same way again.
A version of this article appeared in the June 2008 issue of Fast Company magazine.