The Mark Blog

Top Ten Books By or About Courageous Female Journalists

Anna Politkovskaya
In light of the Uber journalist scandal, in which a high-level Uber executive suggested hiring sleuths to dig up personal information about journalist Sarah Lacy in an effort to discredit her reporting, PEN Center USA is highlighting the Top Ten Books By or About Courageous Female Journalists.

Politkovskaya, the late Russian political journalist, may have been murdered for her reporting on the government of Vladimir Putin. She was assassinated on October 7th, 2006 in what appeared to be a contract killing. PEN International remains dedicated to holding those responsible for her death accountable in a court of law. Check out PEN International’s article to learn more. Putin’s Russia, her last book, contains some of the heroic and fearless reporting which so incensed the Russian establishment. Click here to purchase. 
Helen Thomas was the first female member of (and later president of) the White House Correspondents’ Association. She spent her almost 60 year career in journalism as a persistent thorn in the side of power, vociferously and fearlessly challenging Presidential administrations and their talking points. Click here to purchase.
 Rachel Carson’s landmark 1962 book Silent Spring is frequently credited with catalyzing the American environmental movement. This elegiac condemnation of the widespread use of pesticides shook up the American public. Carson was strongly condemned by government and chemical industry figures, but her book helped stir public support for much stronger regulations. Click here to purchase.
Molly Ivins was a humorous and tough-minded political journalist based in Texas. Her editors once felt compelled to remove her from an assignment in Dallas because she had thoroughly antagonized civic officials. Ivins flaunted her outspoken liberalism in an extremely conservative environment and forthrightly mocked political figures in her occasionally caustic writing. This biography gives a full picture of her spirited career. Click here to purchase.
Ida B. Wells was born a slave and became one of the first leading lights of the fledgling American Civil Rights Movement. She worked as an editor and journalist for several postwar black newspapers and was one of the original members of the NAACP. At enormous personal risk, she heroically chronicled the horrific rash of lynchings in the post-Reconstruction South in two books, Southern Horrors: Lynch Law in All Its Phases and A Red Record. Click here to purchase The Light of Truth.
Tsering Woeser is a Tibetan poet, fiction writer, and journalist. Her Notes from Tibet has been banned in China and her poetry websites have been shut down by the Chinese government. She is under extreme scrutiny and her freedom of movement has been highly curtailed. As one of the only Tibetan writers who writes in Mandarin, her works are an eloquent testimony about Tibetan life that the majority Han ethnic group rarely hear. Click here to purchase.
Amira Hass is a controversial journalist who has long worked for the Israeli newspaper Haaretz. The daughter of two Holocaust survivors, Hass has been detained multiple times by Israeli police for living and reporting from the West Bank. Hass has been roundly criticized by many of her compatriots and harassed by government officials for her outspoken reporting on the Palestinian people. Click here to purchase.
Lydia Cacho is a Mexican journalist known for her crusades on behalf of sexually exploited women and children. In 2006, local police arrested Cacho and threatened to rape and beat her when she implicated several prominent politicians in a child pornography ring. After winning her freedom, she was almost killed by unknown assailants who sabotaged her vehicle. Cacho has displayed a heroic and unwavering commitment to bettering the lives of Mexican sex slaves. Click here to purchase Slavery Inc.
In 2009, Ling and another journalist, Euna Lee, were detained by North Korea, one of the most despotic regimes in the world. They were sentenced to 12 years of hard labor in the notoriously violent and squalid North Korean labor camps for allegedly crossing into the country from China while filming for a story on refugees. This book, co-written with her sister, details the ordeal and the diplomatic maneuverings that eventually brought her back to the United States. Click here to purchase.
Crysdale recounts the lives of 10 female journalists who put their own health and safety on the line to pursue their craft. This is an excellent primer on some of the many female journalists who have advanced their field through their tough-minded and selfless devotion to their reporting. Click here to purchase.