Long-Form Journalism from the Storyteller of “Dirty John”

Book review: Dirty John and Other True Stories of Outlaws and Outsiders, by Christopher Goffard (Amazon / Book Depository) Christopher Goffard, the journalist behind last year’s wildly popular Dirty John podcast, opens this frequently California-centric collection of his long-form investigative reporting with an introduction explaining the beginnings of his journalism career. It has to be among the best intros in recent memory. When I interview … Continue reading Long-Form Journalism from the Storyteller of “Dirty John”

Be Very Afraid

Fear: Trump in the White House, by Bob Woodward (Amazon Book Depository) (I keep promising myself I’m not going to read any more of these Trump/White House books but I’m unable to resist, apparently.) Real power is fear.  That’s the mantra seeded throughout veteran political reporter and one-half of Woodward and Bernstein Bob Woodward’s diligently reported behind-the-scenes look at the Trump White House. What does … Continue reading Be Very Afraid

Did a Priest Murder a Nun, and Did the Catholic Church Cover it Up?

Book review: Sin, Shame & Secrets, by David Yonke On Holy Saturday in 1980, the day before Easter Sunday, elderly nun Sister Margaret Ann Pahl was found murdered in the sacristy of Mercy Hospital in Toledo, Ohio. She’d been strangled with an altar cloth and her body bore stab wounds in the shape of an inverted cross. Blood on her forehead appeared to mimic anointing. … Continue reading Did a Priest Murder a Nun, and Did the Catholic Church Cover it Up?

Undercover Reporting and the Disturbing History of For-Profit Prisons in America

Book review: American Prison, by Shane Bauer (Amazon / Book Depository) The United States imprisons a higher portion of its population than any country in the world. In 2017 we had 2.2 million people in prisons and jails, a 500 percent increase over the last forty years. We now have almost 5 percent of the world’s population and nearly a quarter of its prisoners. This … Continue reading Undercover Reporting and the Disturbing History of For-Profit Prisons in America

The Mystery of a Clairvoyant and a Con

Book review: A Deal with the Devil, by Blake Ellis and Melanie Hicken (Amazon / Book Depository) We knew that many people thought of all psychics as frauds. We’d heard plenty of horror stories about people who lost thousands of dollars to storefront psychics or psychic hotlines. But we had never heard of a psychic scam quite like this one, in which fraudsters used the mail … Continue reading The Mystery of a Clairvoyant and a Con

Catfishing ISIS

Book review: In the Skin of a Jihadist, by Anna Erelle (Amazon / Book Depository) When one worked on “societal” issues, it was out of passion. If only I could write about this topic in a new way, one that avoided treating individuals as part of a succession of similar cases. I wanted to investigate the roots of “digital jihadism” and get to the bottom … Continue reading Catfishing ISIS

Arguing Against “Incomprehensible” When a Mother is Responsible

Book review: To the Bridge, by Nancy Rommelmann Book Depository Journalist and author Nancy Rommelmann found herself captivated by a disturbing news story. Young mother Amanda Stott-Smith had, in the early morning hours of May 23, 2009, driven to the Sellwood Bridge in Portland, Oregon and dropped her two young children into the Willamette River below. The elder of the two, seven-year-old Trinity, survived. Four-year-old … Continue reading Arguing Against “Incomprehensible” When a Mother is Responsible

Almost 20 Years On, The Story of Columbine is Haunting and Still Too Relevant

Book review: Columbine, by Dave Cullen (Amazon / Book Depository) Anyone reading here knows I’m a huge fan of narrative (or creative) nonfiction, a genre that can encompass a lot, but the key element is nonfiction that uses narrative literary structures, styles and concepts similar to those used in fiction. Books like Adrian Nicole LeBlanc’s masterful and revealing Random Family is a standout example in this genre … Continue reading Almost 20 Years On, The Story of Columbine is Haunting and Still Too Relevant

A Crucial, Timely Work of Narrative Reportage on Rape Investigation

Book review: A False Report, by T. Christian Miller and Ken Armstrong Amazon / Book Depository It’s early, but I’ll call it – this will be one of the most important nonfiction titles released this year. Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists T. Christian Miller and Ken Armstrong discovered every reporter’s nightmare – they were chasing nearly the same story. It was that of a serial rapist recently caught and … Continue reading A Crucial, Timely Work of Narrative Reportage on Rape Investigation

The Book Making America Read Again

Book review: Fire and Fury, by Michael Wolff Amazon First, I have to apologize for what I wrote in one of my books to anticipate in 2018 posts. I can’t believe I even considered NOT reading this book, in light of everything that’s happened around it since. To be fair, I think the day I published that post was the same day this started making headlines and … Continue reading The Book Making America Read Again

The Ongoing Mystery of a Missing American in Iran

Book review: Missing Man, by Barry Meier (Amazon / Book Depository) FBI agents typically solve cases when criminals or terrorists make mistakes. Those missteps might involve a sloppy email, an impulsive Internet posting, repetitive travel patterns, or other fumbles. A mistake can provide the thread on which an investigator starts pulling. The more James McJunkin looked at the information in Bob’s case—the emails, the video, … Continue reading The Ongoing Mystery of a Missing American in Iran

2017’s Award-Winning Journalism

Review: The Best American Magazine Writing 2017 Amazon / Book Depository Sid Holt compiles this year’s Best American Magazine Writing for the American Society of Magazine Editors. For anyone who loves topical, well-written and affecting long-form journalism, this year’s collection of award-winners and finalists is excellent. It should come as no surprise that the selections swerve heavily towards the political. Some of the strongest standouts include multiple … Continue reading 2017’s Award-Winning Journalism