An Air That Kills is the horrifying true story of the decades-long poisoning of a small town and the definitive exposé of asbestos in America-all told by the prize-winning journalists who broke it.
This is the story of miners who were unaware of the toxins they took into their lungs, then brought home in their clothes-infecting their families. It is the story of the ongoing use of asbestos in products ranging from insulation to cat litter. It is the story behind the George W. Bush administration's successful campaign to cover up the full extent of the post-9/11 asbestos problem in Lower Manhattan. But it is also the story of the townspeople and government workers who took on the government in Washington to demand justice for those who died-and those who are still dying-of preventable exposure to asbestos.
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Andrew Schneider is deputy managing editor for investigation for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. He has won two Pulitzer Prizes, a National Headliner Award, the Society of Professional Journalists' public service award, the George Polk Award, and others.
David McCumber is managing editor of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. He won the Don Bolles Award for investigative journalism. His previous books include The Cowboy Way, Playing Off the Rail, and X-Rated: The Mitchell Brothers.
As part of a year-long investigation into the impact of the General Mining Act, which let corporations buy land cheaply from the government, Schneider, senior national correspondent for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, met with Gayla Benefield, a resident and activist in Libby, Mont. Benefield's extensive knowledge of the area and the number of people suffering from asbestos-related illnesses impressed Schneider. He began his own digging, talking to lawyers, residents, environmental experts and staffers at the EPA, and even had tests conducted. This book chronicles his inquiry into an enormous coverup by Grace Corporation, which ran the Zonolite factory. Schneider and McCumber, managing editor at the newspaper, have written a compelling and frightening story about the victims-the people who worked in the factory and other local residents who weren't employees-suffering from life-threatening ailments. The authors focus on the individuals rather than the legal wrangling, court cases or scientific research. For example, in describing the matter-of-fact way employees handled the asbestos dust, they compellingly write: "Each floor was worse than the last. Les' battle with the never-ending blizzard of dust was truly mythical in proportion, like Hercules cleaning the Augean stables.... When he got on the bus to ride back to town that night, he was covered in dust, just like everybody else. His hair was coated, his ears and his nose were plugged up. His throat felt like sandpaper. The dust in his mouth and nose felt like thick brown syrup...." With Benefield-who's reminiscent of Erin Brockovich-at the center of the story, the authors have written a first-rate book about a contemporary American tragedy.
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Book Description Berkley Trade, 2005. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Never used!. Bookseller Inventory # P110425200094