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11 Riveting Reads by Pulitzer Prize-Winning Journalists

Eye-opening narratives by award-winning authors.

The Pulitzer Prize is a crowning achievement in the field of investigative journalism — and an excellent indicator of a must-read author. That’s why we gathered a diverse selection of celebrated reads by Pulitzer Prizewinning journalists, from gripping exposés and heartfelt profiles to dazzling adventures through our natural world.

Kaitlyn Johnston

Bad City: Peril and Power in the City of Angels

By Paul Pringle

In April 2016, an eyebrow-raising tip came across Pringle’s desk at the L.A. Times. There’d been a drug overdose at a nearby luxury hotel, and it involved Dr. Carmen Puliafito, head of the University of Southern California’s distinguished medical school. Pringle figured he was in for a few weeks of phone calls and follow-ups before he’d be ready to publish his story. Little did he know that tip would lead him to uncover a web of corruption that stretched across Greater Los Angeles, twisting through the city’s most powerful institutions. Bad City crackles with on-the-ground intensity as Pringle retraces each step of his investigation, delivering a sizzling nonfiction thriller that reads like an L.A. noir come to life.

Related: ​​Bad City Author Paul Pringle on the Power of Investigative Journalism

An Immense World

By Ed Yong

Ed Yong is a bestselling author and science writer at The Atlantic, where his reporting on the COVID-19 pandemic received the Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Reporting in 2021. In his bestselling new work, An Immense World, Yong draws on his scientific expertise and his artistry to invite us on an extraordinary journey into the sensory experiences of different creatures on Earth. From what our pet dogs smell on their morning strolls through the neighborhood to the turtles that track the planet’s magnetic fields and the inaudible insect symphonies that vibrate across the plants in your garden, Yong shows us how to look beyond our limited sensory bubble so that we might perceive the many natural wonders that surround us.

Unbelievable

By T. Christian Miller and Ken Armstrong

Both T. Christian Miller and Ken Armstrong are multi–Pulitzer Prize winners: Miller received the 2020 Pulitzer in National Reporting, while Armstrong received the 2012 Pulitzer in Investigative Reporting. In 2016, both journalists won the Pulitzer Prize in Explanatory Reporting for their exposé on the failure of law enforcement to properly investigate reports of rape. Unbelievable chronicles the pair’s powerful and prize-winning work. Their account begins with the story of an 18-year-old female near Seattle who reports being raped at knifepoint. Yet as police begin questioning her about the attack, they grow suspicious of her claims and eventually charge her with false reporting. Two years later, two detectives in Colorado team up to take down a serial rapist, uncovering a string of sexual assaults that stretch well beyond the state’s borders. Unbelievable presents a harrowing portrait of how rape allegations are investigated — and the lasting trauma that sexual-assault victims suffer from entrenched victim-blaming and doubt.

Five Days at Memorial

By Sheri Fink

The bestselling Five Days at Memorial by reporter and physician Sheri Fink expands upon the reportage that won her the Pulitzer Prize in Investigative Reporting in 2010. Fink reconstructs five days at the Memorial Medical Center in New Orleans the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, vividly depicting the chaotic environment and struggle for survival. Exhausted and up against unprecedented circumstances, caregivers began prioritizing medical care, classifying certain patients as last for rescue. Months later, several of the caregivers at Memorial Medical Center faced criminal allegations that they deliberately administered lethal doses of drugs to speed up the deaths of their patients. Five Days at Memorial compiles six years of Fink’s investigative work, confronting the darker aspects of end-of-life care and revealing just how unprepared we are to manage large-scale disasters.

Betrayal (aka Spotlight)

By By the Investigative Staff of The Boston Globe

In 2003, the investigative staff of the Boston Globe received the Pulitzer Prize in Public Service for their reporting on the sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic Church. Betrayal presents a comprehensive account of the Globe’s investigation into the systemic corruption, cover-ups, manipulation, and payoffs that went into concealing the Church’s long and reprehensible history of sexual abuse. Expertly researched and skillfully written, Betrayal is a shining example of what long-form investigative journalism and a commitment to community service can achieve.

Behind the Beautiful Forevers

By Katherine Boo

Katherine Boo’s work at The Washington Post earned the 2000 Pulitzer Prize in Public Service for its eye-opening coverage of the deplorable living conditions at group homes for the mentally disabled. In her bestselling and National Book Award–winning Behind the Beautiful Forevers, Boo guides us through the makeshift settlement of Annawadi on the outskirts of Mumbai, India. Her narrative profiles a handful of settlement residents, each hopeful and ambitious, as they strive for a better life while combating the hurdles of poverty, being ostracized, and facing societal discrimination. Based on years of careful reporting, Behind the Beautiful Forevers is told with humor and compassion, offering insight into what connects people in the face of staggering inequality.

Directorate S

By Steve Coll

Acclaimed journalist Steve Coll received the 2005 Pulitzer Prize in General Nonfiction for Ghost Wars, a searing examination of the CIA and America’s secret history in Afghanistan. In Directorate S, Coll delivers the definitive account of how America became so hopelessly entangled in South Asia. Before 9/11, the U.S. carried out small-scale operations in Afghanistan, officially working in conjunction with — though often in opposition to — Pakistani intelligence. Yet while the U.S. endeavored to neutralize extremist threats throughout the region, a top-secret extension of Pakistan’s intelligence agency, known as Directorate S, funded the Taliban in an attempt to legitimize the terrorist organization and bolster Pakistan’s power. Through in-depth reporting and vivid storytelling, Coll reveals how America’s war in Afghanistan was doomed from the start — both because of complex international tensions beyond our control and our failure to grasp what was happening right before our eyes.

Bad Blood

By John Carreyrou

Veteran journalist John Carreyrou was part of the reporting team at the Wall Street Journal that won the 2003 Pulitzer Prize in Explanatory Reporting for its coverage of corporate scandals in America. He also shared the 2015 Pulitzer Prize in Investigative Reporting with fellow Journal reporters for their “Medicare Unmasked” project and sweeping investigation into government corruption. In his national bestseller Bad Blood, Carreyrou turns his attention to the Silicon Valley scandal of Elizabeth Holmes. In 2014, Holmes was poised to become the next Steve Jobs. A Stanford dropout turned founder and CEO of Theranos, Holmes was estimated to be worth $4.5 billion. Theranos’s new technology — intended to perform a range of lab tests from just one drop of blood — promised to revolutionize the medical industry. The only catch? The technology didn’t actually work. Indeed, Theranos’s faulty testing led to misdiagnoses and put patients at serious medical risk. Yet rather than halt production, Holmes and her partner, Sunny Balwani, worked to silence dissent and keep the investment money rolling in, putting them on a crash course to disaster.

The Poisoner’s Handbook

By Deborah Blum

The Poisoner’s Handbook by science journalist Deborah Blum is a page-turning combo of true crime, history, and scientific journalism. In early-20th-century New York, jazz was king and forensic science was in its infancy. Poison made for a terribly effective murder weapon — that is, until Charles Norris was appointed chief medical examiner in 1918. Norris, along with toxicologist Alexander Gettler, changed the rules of criminal investigation with the introduction of forensic chemistry. Blum, winner of the 1992 Pulitzer Prize in Beat Reporting for her series of works on primate research, “makes science accessible and fascinating” (Publishers Weekly, starred review) in this skillful concoction of true crime and chemistry.

The Underground Girls of Kabul

By Jenny Nordberg

Award-winning author Jenny Nordberg expands upon the story she broke for The New York Times in The Underground Girls of Kabul. In Afghanistan, to be born a boy is to be celebrated; to be born a girl, however, is to face a life of misfortune. This is why the bacha posh — girls raised as boys and presented as sons have become a not uncommon cultural phenomenon. Nordberg, who was part of a New York Times team that won the Pulitzer Prize for its work on the American freight railroad system, compassionately shares the story of the bacha posh in her moving narrative, chronicling their experiences as they live for years as boys and begin establishing lives for themselves, only to be forced back into the traditionally female roles of wives and mothers.

The Forever War

By Dexter Filkins

In 2009, war correspondent Dexter Filkins was part of a team of New York Times reporters who won a Pulitzer Prize for their coverage of Afghanistan and Pakistan. In The Forever War, the veteran journalist leverages his expertise to masterful effect. The award-winning work charts the rise of Islamic fundamentalism and the Taliban through the 1990s, breaks down the terrorist attacks of September 11th, and dives into America’s interminable wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Filkins delivers his fierce narrative with unflinching honesty, “mak[ing] us see, with almost hallucinogenic immediacy, the true human meaning and consequences of the ‘war on terror’” (The New York Times).

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