Poison Penmanship

The Gentle Art of Muckraking

By Jessica Mitford; Jane Smiley (Introduction by); Jane Smiley (Preface by)
(New York Review of Books, Paperback, 9781590173558, 288pp.)

Publication Date: September 7, 2010

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Description

Jessica Mitford was a member of one of England's most legendary families (among her sisters were the novelist Nancy Mitford and the current Duchess of Devonshire) and one of the great muckraking journalists of modern times. Leaving England for America, she pursued a career as an investigative reporter and unrepentant gadfly, publicizing not only the misdeeds of, most famously, the funeral business ("The American Way of Death," a bestseller) and the prison business ("Kind and Usual Punishment"), but also of writing schools and weight-loss programs. Mitford's diligence, unfailing skepticism, and acid pen made her one of the great chroniclers of the mischief people get up to in the pursuit of profit and the name of good. "Poison Penmanship "collects seventeen of Mitford's finest pieces--about everything from crummy spas to network-TV censorship--and fills them out with the story of how she got the scoop and, no less fascinating, how the story developed after publication. The book is a delight to read: few journalists have ever been as funny as Mitford, or as gifted at getting around in those dark, cobwebbed corners where modern America fashions its shiny promises. It's also an unequaled and necessary manual of the fine art of investigative reporting.




About the Author
Jessica Mitford is also the author of" Hons and Rebels "(previously published as "Daughters and Rebels")," The American Way of Death, The Trial of Dr. Spock, Kind and Usual Punishment, A Fine Old Conflict, Poison Penmanship," "Faces of Philip: A Memoir of Philip Toynbee, Grace Had an English Heart, "and "The American Way of Birth. "Until her death in 1996, she lived in Oakland, California, with her husband, labor lawyer Robert Treuhaft.
Peter Y. Sussman was an award-winning editor at the "San Francisco Chronicle" from 1964 to 1993 and has written, edited, taught, and lectured widely since then. He is the coauthor of "Committing Journalism "and was a coauthor of the Society of Professional Journalists' Code of Ethics. He lives in Berkeley, California.

Jane Smiley is the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of A Thousand Acres and more than ten other works of fiction, as well as three works of nonfiction, including a critically acclaimed biography of Charles Dickens. In 2001 she was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She lives in northern California.

Jane Smiley is the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of A Thousand Acres and more than ten other works of fiction, as well as three works of nonfiction, including a critically acclaimed biography of Charles Dickens. In 2001 she was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She lives in northern California.
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