Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Inside Scoop: A Guide to Nonfiction Investigative Writing and Exposés by Sarah Stadz Cords

I am not unbiased in the reviewing of this book. I know Sarah Statz Cords. More importantly, my upcoming book about biography is the second in the Real Stories series. Sarah's book, The Inside Scoop: A Guide to Nonfiction Investigative Writing and Exposés, is the first.

The Real Stories series edited by Robert Burgin will be a group of books to help readers and librarians find nonfiction books to read. Volumes about autobiographies and memoirs, women's nonfiction, true adventure, travel, environmental writing, true crime, and sports books are being written or planned. The series will be a sort of Genreflecting for nonfiction.

It is fitting that Sarah's book start the series, as her previous book, The Real Story: A Guide to Nonfiction Reading Interests (Libraries Unlimited, 2006), is the model from which the other books are drawn. In that book, you learn of her interest in investigative writing, a genre based more on a style of writing than on a common theme. She expands a chapter in that book into six chapters in The Inside Scoop: In-Depth Reporting, Exposés, Immersion Journalism, Character Profiles, Political Reporting, and Business Reporting. Within these chapters are short reviews of hundreds of books collected in sub-sections, such as "Government Exposés," "Science Reporting," and "Hot-Button Issues."

If you are having trouble imaging the titles included, here are some that you may know:

  • The Soul of the New Machine by Tracy Kidder
  • Uncommon Carriers by John A. McPhee
  • The Outlaw Sea: A World of Freedom, Chaos, and Crime by William Langewiesche
  • The Great Deluge: Katrina, New Orleans, and the Mississippi Gulf Coast by Douglas Brinkley
  • The Lemon Tree: An Arab, a Jew, and the Heart of the Middle East by Sandy Tolan
  • Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach
  • Friday Night Lights: A Town, a Team, and a Dream by H. G. Bissinger
  • The Good Rat: A True Story by Jimmy Breslin
  • The Long Road Home: A Story of War and Family by Martha Radatz

These titles are all in the first section, In-Depth Reporting. Most are from the last few years, though there are some older works, such as Working by Studs Terkel. The other five chapters are also filled with well-known and waiting-to-be-rediscovered books.

The idea behind The Inside Scoop and the other titles in the series is that a reader or librarian look up a known title to find other titles to read. Each review includes four to eight recommendations for what to read next. For example, if you look up The Age of Turbulence: Adventures in a New World by Alan Greenspan, Sarah suggests memoirs by Donald Trump and Bill Clinton, biographies of Ronald Reagan, Richard Nixon, and Henry Kissinger, books on economics by Thomas Friedman and Tim Hartford, and even the novels The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand.

Sarah thinks beyond just books in The Inside Scoop, including lists of documentary films and magazines of investigative writing in the appendices. I believe libraries wanting to build their nonfiction readers' advisory service will want this smart new guide.

Cords, Sarah Statz. The Inside Scoop: A Guide to Nonfiction Investigative Writing and Exposés. Libraries Unlimited, 2009. 449p. ISBN 9781591586500


Citizen Reader said...

Rick-Wow, thanks for the nice shout-out and the great review. I'm so glad it sounds like you're finding it useful--I hope that it is!

I'll return the favor as soon as I see your book, which I am eagerly anticipating!!

ricklibrarian said...


I hope sales soar. I forgot to mention how you include books from both the extreme left and right in your guide. There should be something for nearly everyone to read.