100 books like Infamous Scribblers

By Ric Burns,

Here are 100 books that Infamous Scribblers fans have personally recommended if you like Infamous Scribblers. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of The Paper: The Life and Death of the New York Herald Tribune

Robert W. Merry Author Of A Country of Vast Designs: James K. Polk, the Mexican War and the Conquest of the American Continent

From my list on the triumphs and struggles of American journalism.

Why am I passionate about this?

From my early teens I aspired to a career in journalism and publishing, manifest in my being editor of my junior high newspaper, my high school paper, and my college paper. After the army and grad school, I pursued my dream, covering Washington, D.C., for the Wall Street Journal for a dozen years and becoming an executive at Congressional Quarterly for 22 years, including 12 years as CEO. The great triumphs and struggles of the news business as it grew and evolved have stirred my consciousness throughout my life, and these five books provide some of the best narrative treatments on the topic that I have encountered throughout a lifetime in the publishing business.

Robert's book list on the triumphs and struggles of American journalism

Robert W. Merry Why did Robert love this book?

This is primarily the story of three newspapers--James Gordon Bennett’s New York Herald, Horace Greeley’s New York Tribune, and the merged paper under the ownership of diplomat and politician Whitelaw Reid and his heirs, including his daughter-in-law, Helen Rogers Reid, a firecracker of an executive and woman about town. But it is also a comprehensive story of New York newspapering from the 1830s to the 1960s and about the city and country that served as the focus for news coverage during those decades. It is a poignant tale of soaring triumphs and ultimate decline as new challenges beset the newspaper business and even large cities could no longer support multiple papers.

By Richard Kluger,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Paper as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Why did the newspaper with better writing and graphics than any other American daily go to an early grave?

Few American newspapers - and perhapsnone at all in the view of somestudents of the craft - have matched the many excellences of the New York Herald Tribune. In the crispness of its writing and editing, the bite of its criticsand commentators, the range of its coverage, and the clarity ofitstypography, the "Trib" (as media people and many of itsreadersaffectionately called it) raised newspapering to an art form. Ithad aninfluence and importance out of all proportion to itscirculation.Abraham Lincoln valued its…


Book cover of The Great American Magazine: An Inside History of LIFE

Robert W. Merry Author Of A Country of Vast Designs: James K. Polk, the Mexican War and the Conquest of the American Continent

From my list on the triumphs and struggles of American journalism.

Why am I passionate about this?

From my early teens I aspired to a career in journalism and publishing, manifest in my being editor of my junior high newspaper, my high school paper, and my college paper. After the army and grad school, I pursued my dream, covering Washington, D.C., for the Wall Street Journal for a dozen years and becoming an executive at Congressional Quarterly for 22 years, including 12 years as CEO. The great triumphs and struggles of the news business as it grew and evolved have stirred my consciousness throughout my life, and these five books provide some of the best narrative treatments on the topic that I have encountered throughout a lifetime in the publishing business.

Robert's book list on the triumphs and struggles of American journalism

Robert W. Merry Why did Robert love this book?

No other magazine ever burst upon the national scene with as much financial and editorial force as Life, founded by Henry Luce in 1936 to exploit the new technology of high-shutter-speed cameras that could capture events and activities like never before. Luce’s vision (actually, it came initially from his future wife, Clare Boothe Luce) was to stir the human spirit with photos of sports stars in action, the magnitude of huge structures such as the Grand Coulee Dam, a baby being born, the agony of war. With such photography mixed with probing and discursive long-form journalism, Luce transformed American magazine journalism--and got very, very rich in the process.

By Loudon Wainwright,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Great American Magazine as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The well-known columnist blends personal reminiscence, historical reportage, interviews, and social analysis in an authoritative history of "Life" magazine and its unique thirty-six-year history


Book cover of Decline and Fall: The struggle for power at a great American magazine: The Saturday Evening Post

Robert W. Merry Author Of A Country of Vast Designs: James K. Polk, the Mexican War and the Conquest of the American Continent

From my list on the triumphs and struggles of American journalism.

Why am I passionate about this?

From my early teens I aspired to a career in journalism and publishing, manifest in my being editor of my junior high newspaper, my high school paper, and my college paper. After the army and grad school, I pursued my dream, covering Washington, D.C., for the Wall Street Journal for a dozen years and becoming an executive at Congressional Quarterly for 22 years, including 12 years as CEO. The great triumphs and struggles of the news business as it grew and evolved have stirred my consciousness throughout my life, and these five books provide some of the best narrative treatments on the topic that I have encountered throughout a lifetime in the publishing business.

Robert's book list on the triumphs and struggles of American journalism

Robert W. Merry Why did Robert love this book?

Before Life there was the Saturday Evening Post, a roaring success capturing the spirit of Middle America at a time when Middle America defined the cultural ethos of the nation. But by the late 1950s the potent reach of television advertising undermined the general-interest magazine business model, and the Post slipped into an inexorable spiral of decline that its top executives could never quite handle or even understand. There’s plenty of pathos and human drama as they struggle with forces beyond their control. 

By Otto Friedrich,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Decline and Fall as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Uncorrected Proof Copy


Book cover of Paper Losses: A Modern Epic of Greed and Betrayal at America's Two Largest Newspaper Companies

Robert W. Merry Author Of A Country of Vast Designs: James K. Polk, the Mexican War and the Conquest of the American Continent

From my list on the triumphs and struggles of American journalism.

Why am I passionate about this?

From my early teens I aspired to a career in journalism and publishing, manifest in my being editor of my junior high newspaper, my high school paper, and my college paper. After the army and grad school, I pursued my dream, covering Washington, D.C., for the Wall Street Journal for a dozen years and becoming an executive at Congressional Quarterly for 22 years, including 12 years as CEO. The great triumphs and struggles of the news business as it grew and evolved have stirred my consciousness throughout my life, and these five books provide some of the best narrative treatments on the topic that I have encountered throughout a lifetime in the publishing business.

Robert's book list on the triumphs and struggles of American journalism

Robert W. Merry Why did Robert love this book?

The big Detroit newspaper market eventually narrowed down to two newspapers--the News and Free Press--neither of which could knock out the other while neither could turn a profit in a competitive market. This is the story of the struggle of the two greatest newspaper chains--Gannett and Knight-Ridder--to forge a “joint operating agreement” allowing them to merge production and business efforts while retaining separate newsrooms. Few participants cared much about editorial standards as the rush for huge profits drove the process. In the end, it all came a cropper. It’s a sordid tale in many ways but a riveting one.

By Bryan Gruley,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Paper Losses as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Gruley writes of the 25-year struggle between the Detroit News and the Detroit Free Press--two proud, family-owned newspapers that became pawns in the hands of the largest newspaper chains of our time, Gannett and Knight-Ridder. A tale of greed and power, of Wall Street and the courts.


Book cover of Last Call at the Hotel Imperial: The Reporters Who Took On a World at War

Susan Blumberg-Kason Author Of Good Chinese Wife: A Love Affair with China Gone Wrong

From my list on rediscovered women's history with badass book covers.

Why am I passionate about this?

My name is Susan Blumberg-Kason and I write books about strong women who have a strong sense of place. I think we are all partly defined by where we live and I enjoy examining how our environment informs our choices. My first book centers around someone I know very well—me! My memoir, Good Chinese Wife, takes place in my favorite city—Hong Kong—the place where I came of age and married for the first time, as well as China and a few cities in the US. I’m also a sucker for a good cover and I absolutely love my Good Chinese Wife cover!

Susan's book list on rediscovered women's history with badass book covers

Susan Blumberg-Kason Why did Susan love this book?

This cover completely drew me in because the typewriter, cityscape, and WWII airplanes all show an urgency and a story just waiting to be told. Cohen writes about prominent WWII foreign correspondents, including Dorothy Thompson and Frances Fineman, who travel the world in search of the latest war update. It was certainly not as easy to get from country to country back then—especially across vast oceans—so I really appreciated their determination to travel. 

By Deborah Cohen,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Last Call at the Hotel Imperial as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NEW YORK TIMES EDITORS’ CHOICE • A prize-winning historian’s “effervescent” (The New Yorker) account of a close-knit band of wildly famous American reporters who, in the run-up to World War II, took on dictators and rewrote the rules of modern journalism

“High-speed, four-lane storytelling . . . Cohen’s all-action narrative bursts with colour and incident.”—Financial Times

ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR: The New Yorker, NPR, BookPage

They were an astonishing group: glamorous, gutsy, and irreverent to the bone. As cub reporters in the 1920s, they roamed across a war-ravaged world, sometimes perched atop mules on wooden saddles,…


Book cover of All Four Stars

Leila Sales Author Of The Museum of Lost and Found

From my list on kids doing things only grown-ups could do.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m the author of a number of books for kids and teens, many of which imagine young characters having more influence than you might expect. My book The Museum of Lost and Found is about an 11-year-old girl who secretly curates a museum. The Campaign is about a 12-year-old who runs her babysitter’s campaign to become mayor of their town. And This Song Will Save Your Life is about a 16-year-old who secretly becomes an underground DJ. These characters have realistic and relatable kid problems, emotions, and relationships—but they also get to have responsibilities and power well beyond their years. 

Leila's book list on kids doing things only grown-ups could do

Leila Sales Why did Leila love this book?

One of the things I like about this type of book is that the main characters often have a secret identity.

To their classmates or teachers or parents, they’re just an ordinary kid—but when they’re not being watched, they’re doing something important and impactful. I love the tension of worrying that their secret identity might get found out. In this series, the main character’s secret identity is that she’s an accomplished and influential restaurant critic and no one knows, not even her parents. 

By Tara Dairman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked All Four Stars as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

“A scrumptious gem of a story!”—Jennifer A. Nielsen, New York Times bestselling author of The False Prince
 
Meet Gladys Gatsby: New York’s toughest restaurant critic. (Just don’t tell anyone that she’s in sixth grade.)
 
Gladys Gatsby has been cooking gourmet dishes since the age of seven, only her fast-food-loving parents have no idea! Now she’s eleven, and after a crème brûlée accident (just a small fire), Gladys is cut off from the kitchen (and her allowance). She’s devastated but soon finds just the right opportunity to pay her parents back when she’s mistakenly contacted to write a restaurant review for…


Book cover of True Story: Murder, Memoir, Mea Culpa

J.T. Hunter Author Of Devil in the Darkness: The True Story of Serial Killer Israel Keyes

From my list on true crime and the dark side of human nature.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have always been fascinated by the dark side of human nature and the socio-psychological aspects of criminal behavior, especially those of serial killers, and my legal training and experience afforded me apt tools for exploring and writing about true crime. I have been interviewed and appeared on a wide range of podcasts, radio, and TV shows about true crime for nearly a decade.

J.T.'s book list on true crime and the dark side of human nature

J.T. Hunter Why did J.T. love this book?

This book explores the relationship between writer and subject and provides a lesson on the lengths one should go in exercising one’s craft. An ironic twist comes in the form of Finkel himself being a victim of a crime, which gives rise to the thrust of this story. As a fan of memoirs and true crime, this book kept my interest all of the way through.

By Michael Finkel,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked True Story as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Michael Finkel was a top New York Times Magazine journalist publicly fired and disgraced for making up a composite character for a big investigative news piece about Africa. This book is about how this brilliant, high achieving journalist found himself at that point in his life. But in parallel it's also about Christian Longo, a man accused of the multiple murder of his own wife and three children.

After the deaths, Longo fled to Mexico, where he passed himself off as Michael Finkel, New York Times journalist. These two weird stories come together as Finkel in turn becomes fascinated (perhaps…


Book cover of Challenging the News: The Journalism of Alternative and Community Media

Tony Harcup Author Of Journalism: Principles and Practice

From my list on journalists as heroes.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve worked in and around journalism long enough to know that not all journalists are heroes. Few even aspire to be. But there is something quietly heroic about the daily task of holding the powerful to account, even in democracies where the risk of imprisonment or assassination is less than in more authoritarian states. Here is my selection of books to remind all of us about some of these more heroic aspects of the journalism trade. I hope you find reading them enjoyable and maybe even inspiring.

Tony's book list on journalists as heroes

Tony Harcup Why did Tony love this book?

Journalism takes many forms, and this readable study by a journalist-turned-academic examines some of the more alternative styles and outlets that operate beyond the corporate mainstream media industries. Alternative they may be, but the projects studied by Forde produce proper journalism rather than the uninformed commentary or aggressive shouting adopted by some who like to style themselves as ‘alternative media.’ None of the journalists she interviews would see themselves as heroes but, by defying the odds to produce independent reporting in the cause of social justice around the world, they engage in countless small acts of heroism every day. 

By Susan Forde,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Challenging the News as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Community media journalists are, in essence, 'filling in the gaps' left by mainstream news outlets. Forde's extensive 10 year study now develops an understanding of the journalistic practices at work in independent and community news organisations. Alternative media has never been so widely written about until now.


Book cover of The View from the Ground

Sara Wheeler Author Of Glowing Still: A Woman's Life on the Road

From my list on travel by women to inspire a journey of your own.

Why am I passionate about this?

Over the course of my so-called career as a travel writer, the ‘I’ve-Got-A Big-One’ school favoured by the male of the species has ceded ground. Women, less interested in ‘conquering,’ have pioneered a kind of creative non-fiction that suits the travel genre. I prefer it to the blokeish business of seeing how dead you can get. It notices more. As the decades unfurled – Pole to Pole, via Poland – I realised, more and more, the debt I owe to the other women who not only set sail but also unsparingly observed the world that turns within each self. 

Sara's book list on travel by women to inspire a journey of your own

Sara Wheeler Why did Sara love this book?

Martha Gellhorn’s blend of reportage and imagination ensnared me when I was barely out of my teens, and her preferred form has come of age in my working life.

Not only do I think Gellhorn is a marvellous writer – at her best, one of the best – but I also identify with Gellhorn the woman. "The open road," she wrote, was "my first, oldest and strongest love." She lived from 1908 to 1998 and was writing the fighting for six decades, and although each conflict was different, her message remained the same: ‘There is neither victory nor defeat; there is only catastrophe." 

Book cover of The Journalist and the Murderer

David Wilson Author Of A History Of British Serial Killing: The Shocking Account of Jack the Ripper, Harold Shipman and Beyond

From my list on true crime about murder and serial murder.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a former Prison Governor who has had to work with a number of murderers and serial murderers – and who now writes about them as Emeritus Professor of Criminology – my professional life has inevitably been dominated by violent men. As they might say in the United States, I have “walked the walk” before doing my talking and I try and bring this applied dimension into my written and more academic work.

David's book list on true crime about murder and serial murder

David Wilson Why did David love this book?

First published in 1990 – based on a series of articles originally written for The New Yorker, this book is a warning to true crime authors the world over about the morality of reaching out and writing with and about murderers. 

The journalist in question is Joe McGinniss and the murderer is the former Special Forces Captain Dr Jeffrey MacDonald who became the subject of McGinniss’s 1983 book Fatal Vision. Is it ethical to collaborate with someone who has been accused of murder? What are the pitfalls that need to be managed? And, at the end of the day, who is conning who – the journalist or the murderer?

By Janet Malcolm,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Journalist and the Murderer as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Every journalist who is not too stupid or too full of himself to notice what is going on knows that what he does is morally indefensible'

In equal measure famous and infamous, Janet Malcolm's book charts the true story of a lawsuit between Jeffrey MacDonald, a convicted murderer, and Joe McGinniss, the author of a book about the crime. Lauded as one of the Modern Libraries "100 Best Works of Nonfiction", The Journalist and the Murderer is fascinating and controversial, a contemporary classic of reportage.


5 book lists we think you will like!

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