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9780684846309

The Art of Fact: A Historical Anthology of Literary Journalism

Ben Yagoda, Rosemary Mahoney

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9780684846309: The Art of Fact: A Historical Anthology of Literary Journalism

This fascinating compilation of the journalist's art unites the reporter's magnificent eye for detail with the novelist's gift for storytelling. Featuring eyewitness accounts of war and social revolution, profiles of sports heroes and politicians, and eye-opening investigations into both the mundane and the eccentric details of life, it includes:
-- Walt Whitman on the Battle of Chancellorsville
-- Stephen Crane, George Orwell, and Jack London on how the other half lives
-- Abraham Cahan on immigrants arriving in New York
-- Rebecca West on Bosnia
-- Piers Paul Read on survival in the Andes
-- Jimmy Breslin on John F Kennedy's funeral
-- Richard Ben Cramer on the 1988 presidential election
-- Svetlana Alexiyevich on the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan
-- David Simon on Baltimore's homicide interrogation room
-- Bill Buford on soccer thugs
-- Rosemary Mahoney on a lesbian bar in Dublin

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Product Description:

"The Art of Fact" is a historical treasury tracing what used to be called "new" journalism back to such pioneers as Defoe, Dickens, and Orwell, and to crime writers, investigative social reporters, and war correspondents who stretched the limits of style and even propriety to communicate powerful truth. The tradition is alive and well in stories that take us from a cantina in Los Angeles to a lesbian bar in Dublin, from a massacre in Tiananmen Square to a nonviolent revolution in the Philippines. This international emphasis links American literary journalists to their counterparts in England, Africa, and Russia.

Review:

Kevin Kerrane and Ben Yagoda, journalists and journalism teachers, saw a need for a textbook that celebrated and organized outstanding examples of literary journalism. In this compendious volume spanning 372 years, the editors focus on the evolution of New Journalism, a term which, we learn, "was originally coined by Matthew Arnold in 1887 to describe the style of Stead's Pall Mall Gazette: brash, vivid, personal, reform-minded, and--occasionally, from Arnold's conservative viewpoint--'featherbrained.'"

The editors position Daniel Defoe's The True and Genuine Account of the Life and Actions of the Late Jonathan Wild (1725) as the prototype for the true-crime narrative. The collection's first section, entitled "Pioneers," includes such staples as Boswell's Life of Samuel Johnson, Walt Whitman's Specimen Days, and Jack London's daring 1902 exposé of life among the city of London's impoverished East Enders. Brief introductions to each selection set the historical context and explain innovative aspects of the piece. The second section compares two distinctly contemporary journalistic points of view: the "I Am a Camera" school and the unabashedly subjective approach exemplified by Norman Mailer and Hunter S. Thompson, among others. "Style as Substance" makes up the lively and often moving third section.

Many rich voices describe all angles of the human experience in this impressive volume. Through author Piers Paul Read we crash-land with a Uruguayan rugby team in the Andes; Lillian Ross gives us a notoriously devastating portrait of Ernest Hemingway; Ted Conover assimilates into illegal Mexican culture and smuggles us back and forth across the border. The only anthology of its kind, The Art of Fact almost doubles as a travel book.

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