The Best of 1998

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ANTHONY SPAETHStay tuned--if ever there was a year in which that phrase wasn't mere television hokum but a genuinely sensible piece of advice, 1998 was it. Would the roaring United States economy finally subside and Wall Street collapse? Was it possible to impeach the President for high crimes or broom-closet misdemeanors? Could Private Ryan be saved? Reversals of fortune were tantalizingly imminent in 1998--followed by amazing comebacks, upset victories and, in the case of a 35-year-old baseball player who belted 70 home runs, triumphs historical and unalloyed. In short, 1998's roller coaster had thrills, stomach-drops and more than a few 360-degree loops. It was quite a ride.The best moments for some were, naturally, the worst for others. Political pundits got Monicagate all wrong, but the cigar industry isn't complaining. (And never has dry cleaning seemed so essential.) Irretrievable losses were suffered: the ruble, 288 whales on a New Zealand shore, the female wing of the George Michael Fan Club. Economic pain spread through the East, but failed to submerge the economies of the West. Meanwhile, the hottest car of 1998 was an endearing little buggy called the Volkswagen Beetle, a comeback welcomed across the generations. An inspired reversal took place in the World Cup when host France triumphed over favorite Brazil. John Glenn's return to outer space didn't turn time backward in the Einsteinian sense, but it definitively arrested the notion of senior-citizen frailty.The following pages celebrate a year determined from the start to live up to the fin de siecle reputation of unpredictability, quirkiness and prodigiousness. (McGwire's homers were but the No. 1 story in U.S. sports; Sammy Sosa of the Chicago Cubs hit only four fewer.) And neither the century, the millennium nor the Clinton impeachment process has ended yet. Hold onto your hats in 1999 and, yes, stay tuned.
There was more than just Monica
Nothing could touch Saving Private Ryan
Tom Wolfe returned as the novelist in full
France's World Cup of joy brimmed over
Seinfeld's sayonara was much ado about nothing
No prizes for guessing The Big One
A noble winner--and a pair of Nobel losers
Saving Suriname ... and the swordfish