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Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn are the first husband and wife to share a Pulitzer Prize for journalism. The authors of the acclaimed, best-selling Half the Sky now issue a plea in their new book, Tightrope—told through the lives of real Americans—to address the crisis in working-class America, while focusing on solutions to mend a half century of governmental failure.
2019/20 Journalism Series Subscribers (except Students/U25 and complimentary subscriptions) receive a complimentary copy of Kristof & WuDunn’s new book, Tightrope.
With stark poignancy and political dispassion, Tightrope draws us deep into an “other America.” Kristof and WuDunn tell this story, in part, through the lives of some of the children with whom Kristof grew up, in rural Yamhill, Oregon, an area that prospered for much of the twentieth century but has been devastated in the last few decades as blue collar jobs disappeared.
About one-quarter of these children died in adulthood from drugs, alcohol, suicide, or reckless accidents. And while these particular stories unfolded in one corner of the country, they are representative of many places the authors write about, ranging from the Dakotas and Oklahoma to New York and Virginia.
But here too are stories about resurgence, among them: Annette Dove, who has devoted her life to helping the teenagers of Pine Bluff, Arkansas, as they navigate the chaotic reality of growing up poor; Daniel McDowell, of Baltimore, whose tale of opioid addiction and recovery suggests that there are viable ways to solve our nation’s drug epidemic.
Altogether, there emerges a picture of working-class families needlessly but profoundly damaged as a result of decades of policy mistakes. With their superb, nuanced reportage, Kristof and WuDunn have given us a book that is both riveting and impossible to ignore.
Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn have coauthored four previous books: A Path Appears, Half the Sky, Thunder from the East, and China Wakes. They were awarded a Pulitzer in 1990 for their coverage of China, as well as the 2009 Dayton Literary Peace Prize. Now an op-ed columnist for the New York Times, Kristof was previously bureau chief in Hong Kong, Beijing, and Tokyo. He won his second Pulitzer in 2006 for his columns on Darfur. WuDunn worked at the Times as a business editor and foreign correspondent in Tokyo and Beijing, and now works in finance and consulting. They live near New York City.