Sensational: The Hidden History of America’s “Girl Stunt Reporters.”

Harper. Apr. 2021. 400p. ISBN 9780062843616. $27.99.;. BIOG
In this latest book, Todd (Sparrow) focuses on the history of stunt reporting and the remarkable careers of notable women journalists. Todd details several women, such as Nellie Bly and Ida B. Wells, who investigated and exposed political corruption and working conditions in factories. While the narrative is engaging throughout, Todd’s writing shines when telling the stories of women who are often overlooked, such as Victoria Earle Matthews, born into slavery to an enslaved mother; the author recounts how Matthews became a writer and activist. Consideration is also given to the legacy of author and suffragist Elizabeth Jordan, who reported on the trial of Lizzie Borden. Drawing on a range of primary sources, including newsletter articles and photographs, Todd clearly relays how these varied women were able to spark change, and how they went on to write books or become activists themselves in the early 20th century.
VERDICT Todd’s comprehensive account rightly sheds light on the many women who changed the face of journalism and helped jump-start the newspaper industry. Her accessible writing draws in readers from the first page.
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