Foreword Reviews

The Stories We Tell

Classic True Tales by America's Greatest Women Journalists

The writing is fantastic and topics are diverse, with in-depth and beautifully written looks at moments and movements.

This important selection of news stories stands to be both instructive to students of journalism and a treat for its fans.

With Madeline Blais’s coverage of an Amherst girls’ basketball team on the eve of winning their state championship, the book begins with a fitting celebratory tone around women’s accomplishment and camaraderie, and continues on with depth and variety.

Six of the twenty selections first ran in the New Yorker from the 1980s to the present. They include perfectly stylish Talk of the Town pieces by Lillian Ross. But many regions of the United States are represented here, and many pieces are from the days before journalism traveled over social media, when “viral longform” sounded like an ailment rather than a publishing goal.

There are aching time capsules, as with Joan Didion’s 1966 coverage of a San Bernadino Valley murder, and Gloria Steinem’s look at Jacqueline Kennedy after JFK’s assassination. More current is the still-relevant “Mothers, Sisters, Daughters, Wives,” wherein Mimi Swartz chronicled Texan pro-life legislation for Texas Monthly in 2012.

Wonderful profiles include Isabel Wilkerson’s “Soul Survivor” on civil-rights leader Kwame Ture, Susan Orlean’s on bullfighter Cristina Sanchez, Gerri Hirshey’s on riding along with BB King for Rolling Stone, and Jill Lepore’s fusion of a personal essay with an excellently researched profile of Jane Franklin (sister of Ben).

“The New Face of Richard Norris,” by Jeanne Marie Laskas, is a literary standout, with jarring prose that mirrors its unsettling topic. Though, really, all of the pieces included here are standouts. The writing is fantastic and topics are diverse. In-depth and beautifully written looks at moments and movements, history and current subcultures, crime, sociological trends, athletics and the arts, and health and mortality are all included.

The wide range of human experiences reported on in this collection somehow both satisfies the need for a story and sharpens the hunger for more. Happily, the introduction notes that a second volume, focusing on newer writers, is forthcoming via the same publishing collective.

Reviewed by Meredith Grahl Counts

Disclosure: This article is not an endorsement, but a review. The author of this book provided free copies of the book to have their book reviewed by a professional reviewer. No fee was paid by the author for this review. Foreword Reviews only recommends books that we love. Foreword Magazine, Inc. is disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

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