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Undaunted: How Women Changed American Journalism (Hardcover)
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An essential history of women in American journalism, showcasing exceptional careers from 1840 to the present
Undaunted is a representative history of the American women who surmounted every impediment put in their way to do journalism’s most valued work. From Margaret Fuller’s improbable success to the highly paid reporters of the mid-nineteenth century to the breakthrough investigative triumphs of Nellie Bly, Ida Tarbell, and Ida B. Wells, Brooke Kroeger examines the lives of the best-remembered and long-forgotten woman journalists. She explores the careers of standout woman reporters who covered the major news stories and every conflict at home and abroad since before the Civil War, and she celebrates those exceptional careers up to the present, including those of Martha Gellhorn, Rachel Carson, Janet Malcolm, Joan Didion, Cokie Roberts, and Charlayne Hunter-Gault.
As Kroeger chronicles the lives of journalists and newsroom leaders in every medium, a larger story develops: the nearly two-centuries-old struggle for women’s rights. Here as well is the collective fight for equity from the gentle stirrings of the late 1800s through the legal battles of the 1970s to the #MeToo movement and today’s racial and gender disparities.
Undaunted unveils the huge and singular impact women have had on a vital profession still dominated by men.
About the Author
BROOKE KROEGER is a professor emerita at New York University, where she was the founding director of the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute and taught from 1998 to 2021. She was UN correspondent for Newsday, deputy metropolitan editor at New York Newsday, and for more than a decade a correspondent, editor, and bureau and division chief for United Press International at home and abroad. She serves on the editorial board of American Journalism: A Journal of Media History. Undaunted is her sixth book. She lives in New York.
“Compendious and lively . . . Deeply researched and encyclopedic in the best sense, the book attempts to create a broad new canon of unforgettables.”—Jane Kamensky, The New York Times
“This book is a timely reminder that while women have come a long way in journalism, their gains can’t be taken for granted. . . . Kroeger is well equipped to take us through generations of determined, tenacious women.”—Janet Hook, Los Angeles Times
“Eye-opening . . . For nearly 100 years, no new book for a wide audience had been published documenting the contributions of women to journalism. It was certainly time for an update. . . . In addition to getting into major transformation in the field of journalism, Undaunted is also a delight for the many personal stories it relates.”—Veronica Esposito, The Guardian
“[Undaunted] is packed with the stories of women who have taken part in writing the ﬁrst draft of history. . . . [Written] with refreshing positivity . . . Kroeger is a great champion of women, and she is a preserver of the long, rich historical record.”—Meghan Cox Gurdon, The Wall Street Journal
“Monumental . . . A substantial work of research on women journalists over the last 180 years, underscoring both sexist hurdles and tremendous breakthroughs . . . A tour de force that should be in every library and school in the country.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“A sweeping history . . . A solidly researched and fluidly written overview of an important chapter in women’s history.”—Publishers Weekly
“Terrific . . . In a masterly work of broad research and elegant synthesis, Kroeger writes a lively, fast-paced account spanning 150 years in newspapers, magazines and television news. Cataloging a dizzying array of characters in complex and unconventional exploits, Kroeger conveys both the glory and the sexist humiliation and roadblocks these talented, driven women experienced.”—Clara Bingham, The Guardian
“Kroeger’s immersive history examines the myriad challenges [women journalists] faced professionally and from society writ large and celebrates the ingenuity, valor, and integrity with which they pursued their goals. Merging feminist struggles with journalistic triumphs, Kroeger sheds an important light on both spheres.”—Booklist
“Brooke Kroeger has produced a significant reference work on women in American journalism, an encyclopedia of individuals with the key moments of their professional lives brought to life with useful and engaging detail. . . . Kroeger’s principal contribution has been the breadth of her catalog and how up to date it is.”—Sheila Gibbons, Media Report to Women
“After her sharp, smart biographies of pathbreaking women writers Fannie Hurst and Nellie Bly . . . Kroeger extends her vision and now chronicles the full sweep of female reporters. . . . Kroeger’s powerful history is a way to consider the continually winding road toward equality for women.”—The National Book Review, “5 Hot Books”
“Undaunted is proof that not every patriotic hero bore a gun and wore pants. Historically, most of the women who poured their souls into the Fourth Estate were treated like witnesses to their own execution: Everyone got to make a speech about them — but them. Now their story is told by one of their own, with the forthright candor and superb journalistic skill for which Brooke Kroeger is known. The pioneers in this tome were foot soldiers of justice and imagination. Their presence in newsrooms challenged the very nature of journalism, which by its nature, lives in a language dipped in the subtle but charged, effective strength of male prejudice. For all their talent and skill, these women had no voice in history. Now, thanks to Kroeger, they have one.”—James McBride, author of Deacon King Kong
“Editors confined them to the women's section, and thought them too emotional for wider duty. Bosses insisted they could not go out at night without a male escort. Professional societies would not let them in. Historians of journalism wiped them from the story. Newspapers mercilessly underpaid them. And everyone seemed to observe upon their ‘nature,’ said to be ill-suited for journalism's toughest tasks. The gradual overcoming of these barriers is the grand theme of Brooke Kroeger's Undaunted, a phenomenal work of research with a simple point to make. Women are half the public. Making them equals in the newsroom is not an option but a necessity.”—Jay Rosen, author of What Are Journalists For?
“Brooke Kroeger here offers an invaluable accounting of two centuries of achievement. Full of surprising stories, Undaunted masterfully charts individual breakthroughs while building the larger narrative of female journalists in America. While it can be disheartening to watch the same issues come back decade after decade, it is impossible to read this record of journalistic innovation without a sense of triumph.”—Kim Todd, author of Sensational: The Hidden History of America’s “Girl Stunt Reporters”
“For too long the contributions of women to American journalism have been devalued or overlooked. Fortunately, Brooke Kroeger has retrieved many of their inspiring tales from the waste bin of history to show how women forever changed the field. An overdue collective history of generations of intrepid female journalists.”—Pamela Newkirk, author of Within the Veil: Black Journalists, White Media
“With unprecedented scope, Brooke Kroeger has created a fast-paced, beautifully written account of fearless women journalists across America whose inspiring, relentless determination overcame pernicious behavior and persistent barriers. Undaunted is a heavy dose of inspiration for today’s women working in journalism and all women still knocking down gender barriers.”—Jennifer Preston, Senior Fellow, Shorenstein Center for Media, Politics, and Public Policy
“In the no-stone-unturned style of the reporters whose exploits she retells, Brooke Kroeger documents how tenacious pioneers from Nellie Bly to Nikole Hannah-Jones blasted through the walls of journalism, exposed topics previously ignored, and built a home for women in America’s most controversial profession even as newsrooms fought for survival. Kroeger leaves no doubt that enterprising women have long narrated America’s real story.”—Elizabeth Cobbs, author of Fearless Women: Feminist Patriots from Abigail Adams to Beyoncé