Shaking the Foundations: 200 Years of Investigative Journalism in America


Great investigative journalism is present-tense literature: part detective story, part hellraising. This is the first anthology of its kind, bringing together outstanding (and often otherwise unavailable) practitioners of the muckraking tradition, from the Revolutionary era to the present day. Ranging from mainstream figures like Woodward and Bernstein to legendary iconoclasts such as I. F. Stone and Ida B. Wells-Barnett, the dispatches in this collection combine the thrill of the chase after facts with a ...
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Great investigative journalism is present-tense literature: part detective story, part hellraising. This is the first anthology of its kind, bringing together outstanding (and often otherwise unavailable) practitioners of the muckraking tradition, from the Revolutionary era to the present day. Ranging from mainstream figures like Woodward and Bernstein to legendary iconoclasts such as I. F. Stone and Ida B. Wells-Barnett, the dispatches in this collection combine the thrill of the chase after facts with a burning sense of outrage. As American history, Shaking the Foundations offers a you-are-there chronicle of great scandals and debates as reporters revealed them to their contemporaries: Jim Crow and financial trusts, migrant labor and wars, witch-hunts and government corruption. As journalism, these readings—from writers as diverse as Henry Adams and Ralph Nader, Lincoln Steffens and Barbara Ehrenreich—are a source of inspiration for today's muckrakers. For the general reader, Shaking the Foundations reveals investigative journalism as a storytelling force capable of bringing down presidents, freeing the innocent, challenging the logic of wars, and exposing predatory corporations. Other selected contributors include Henry Adams, John Steinbeck, Upton Sinclair, Edward R. Murrow, Rachel Carson, Jessica Mitford, Susan Brownmiller, Anthony Lukas, Neil Sheehan, Drew Pearson, and Jack Anderson.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Arriving shortly after the New York Times's fall from grace at the hands of a fraudulent staff reporter, this collection of America's best investigative reporting may redeem not only that paper but the entire profession of journalism. Yale journalism professor Shapiro explains he sought to fill a void in the textbook industry; he "wanted material to illustrate essential reporting and narrative techniques... that would give some sense of the historical evolution of investigative journalism." He offers short introductions for each selection, elucidating the pieces' historical significance and transforming what could be a dry primer into an enjoyable compilation for general readers or history buffs. It includes the obvious choices: the Times's expos of Boss Tweed and Tammany Hall corruption in the 1870s as well as its revelation of the Pentagon Papers a century later; the exposure of lynching by Ida B. Wells, a former slave turned advocate of blacks' and women's rights; and the work of legendary muckrakers from Lincoln Steffens to Woodward and Bernstein. But the book's definition of investigative reportage reaches farther than other collections of its kind (and, indeed, there aren't many), containing a sort of slave narrative in "History of the Amistad Captives," a factual novel by Herman Melville, and Ralph Nader's groundbreaking challenge to the auto industry. Wells begins her 1895 account as an appeal "to the sober sense of the American people" to refute the status quo, and it is essentially this spirit that motivates the volume's other journalists. It's been said that journalism is the first draft of history-if so, then this is a history of the writing of history. (Sept.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
An overstuffed, well-made anthology of writings by muckrakers both eminent and unknown. "The enemy isn't liberalism. The enemy isn't conservatism. The enemy is bullshit." So observed Washington-based newspaper columnist Lars-Erik Nelson, providing a motto that Pete Hamill, writing in the foreword to this volume, is only too glad to hand on to neophyte journalists. Nation contributing editor Shapiro here assembles a fine sampler of writings that take on that ubiquitous, persistent enemy; just as he notes that the term "investigative journalism" defies easy definition, he offers excerpts that range from death-defying reportage to easy-chair punditry. Among the most memorable pieces are Henry Adams's sharp dissection of an 1869 scandal authored by Wall Street tycoons Jay Gould and Jim Fisk, one that, with a few substitutions, may remind some readers of the recent bubble; Upton Sinclair's spirited defense of the methods and findings used and drawn from his investigation of the meat-packing industry, which yielded both his 1906 book The Jungle and reforms in the meat-packing industry; and Seymour Hersh's extraordinary reports, published in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in 1969, of American soldiers' massacring South Vietnamese civilians at My Lai-reports that, among other things, recount the widespread resentment among American officers that one of their own should have been charged with murder. ("He's a good soldier," one officer remarks of Lt. William Calley. "He followed orders." Adds another, "Killing becomes nothing in Vietnam.") Though some of the selections pack less punch than others, and though the anthology highlights crusaders and reformists on the left (perhaps for the simple reason,as Hamill remarks, that, with the exception of William Safire, the right has produced few reliable muckrakers of its own), Shapiro's editorial judgment is sound throughout, and his commentary on the texts will prove useful to readers without much background in the dig-and-disturb tradition of reporting. A welcome addition to any journalist's library, and an inspiring read for rising Woodward-Bernsteins.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781560254331
  • Publisher: Nation Books
  • Publication date: 7/28/2003
  • Series: Nation Books
  • Pages: 518
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.41 (d)

Meet the Author

Bruce Shapiro is an associate editor of The Nation and teaches investigative journalism at Yale University.
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Table of Contents

Introduction: Striking Through the Mask
1 The Invention of Exposure: 1798-1900
Benjamin Franklin Bache: "A Calm Observer" from the Philadelphia Aurora and General Advertiser (1795) 3
John Barber: From A History of the Amistad Captives (1840) 8
Herman Melville: "Flogging Through the Fleet" from White-Jacket (1850) 11
Henry Adams: From Chapters of Erie (1872) 15
The New York Times: "More Ring Villainy: Gigantic Frauds in the Rental of Armories" (1871) 26
John Swinton: "The New Slave Trade" from John Swinton's Paper (1884) 40
Nellie Bly: "Choking and Beating Patients" from Ten Days in a Madhouse (1887) 45
Jacob Riis: "Pauperism in the Tenements" from How the Other Half Lives (1890) 50
Ida B. Wells: "Lynching of Innocent Men (Lynched on Account of Relationship)" from A Red Record (1897) 58
II Muckrakers and the Era of Reform: 1900-1920
Lincoln Steffens: "The Shame of Minneapolis: The Rescue and Redemption of a City That Was Sold Out" from McClure's Magazine (1903) 71
Ida Tarbell: "The Oil War of 1872" from The History of Standard Oil (1903) 89
Upton Sinclair: "The Condemned-Meat Industry: A Reply to Mr. J Ogden Armour" from Everybody's Magazine (1908) 112
III Factories, Fields, and Fascists: Investigative Journalism's Forgotten Decades, 1920-1960
Vera Connolly: "Cry of a Broken People: A Story of Injustice and Cruelty that is as Terrible as it is True" from Good Housekeeping (1929) 137
Drew Pearson: "The Man Who Stayed Too Long" from Washington Merry-Go-Round (1931) 156
Carey McWilliams: "The Rise of Farm Fascism" from Factories in the Field (1939) 176
George Seldes: "The Suppressed Tobacco Story" from In Fact (1941) 184
Lowell L. Leake and PM: "Hitler Gets Millions for War Chest Through Links with American Firms" from PM (1941) 193
John Bartlow Martin: "The Blast in Centralia No. 5: A Mine Disaster No One Stopped" from Harper's Magazine (1948) 201
Marvel Cooke: "The Bronx Slave Market" Parts I, II, and III from the New York Compass (1950) 245
Stetson Kennedy: "The Klavaliers Ride to a Fall" from The Klan Unmasked (1954) 254
Fred J. Cook: From "The Big Ones Get Away" from The Nation (1958) 260
Ralph Nader: "The Safe Car You Can't Buy," from The Nation (1959) 275
IV A Force to be Reckoned With: 1960-1990
Frank Donner: From "Anatomy of a Hate Group" from The Un-Americans (1962) 285
Rachel Carson: "And No Birds Sing" from Silent Spring (1962) 292
I.F. Stone: "All We Really Know is that We Fired the First Shots" from I.F. Stone's Weekly (1968) 314
Robert Scheer, Warren Hinckle, and Sol Stern: "The University on the Make" from Ramparts (1966) 319
Seymour Hersh: "The My Lai Massacre" from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (1969) 337
Neil Sheehan and Hedrick Smith: "Vast Review of War Took a Year" from the New York Times (1971) 353
Jack Anderson: "Secret Memo Bares Mitchell-ITT Move," Kleindienst Accused in ITT Case," and "Contradictions Cited in ITT Case" from the Washington Post (1972) 361
Robert Woodward and Carl Bernstein: "Spy Funds Linked to GOP Aides" and "Mitchell Controlled Secret GOP Fund" from the Washington Post (1972) 368
Jessica Mitford: "The Prison Business" from Kind and Usual Punishment (1973) 376
Mark Dowie, Barbara Ehrenreich, and Stephen Minkin: "Corporate Crime of the Century" from Mother Jones (1979) 393
Jonathan Kwitny: "Steinman" from Vicious Circles: The Mafia and the Marketplace (1979) 409
Penny Lernoux: "Villains Afoot" from Cry of the People (1980) 437
Allan Nairn: "Behind the Death Squads" from The Progressive (1984) 443
V Themes for a New Century: 1990-2000
Roy Gutman: "Death Camp Horrors" from Newsday (1993) 463
Kenneth Armstrong and Steve Mills: "Death Row Justice Derailed" from the Chicago Tribune (1999) 474
William Greider: "These Dark Satanic Mills" from One World, Ready or Not (1997) 488
Acknowledgements 501
Index 503
Permissions 517
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