One of my pet peeves is lazy journalism, the kind that “quotes” studies without naming them, the type that simply copies someone else’s article without fact checking, the brand that presents conclusions as facts without providing the manner in which it arrived there. Luckily, Anna Clark is not a lazy journalist. The preparation for her non-fiction book “The Poisoned City” about the Flint water crisis obviously involved a lot of painstaking research supported by extensive footnotes, and her own conclusions, presented in the epilogue, are nothing if not comprehensible. Ms Clark presents a lot of facts and figures but managed to do it in an engaging manner and without resorting to playing on heartstrings too frequently (although I personally would have left out the quote by the lady whose dogs died from lead poisoning, only because someone who is smart enough to not let her family use suspicious water but thinks nothing of letting her dogs drink it is not really a sympathetic character).
“The Poisoned City” is a book about politics, chemistry, medicine, about financial (mis-)management, environmental protection, and why it is important for a community to band together when the cause requires it, because we are indeed stronger together than when we stand alone. The story of the Flint water crisis is important because its underlying problems affect all of us living in the United States today, and simply sticking your head in the sand and hoping for favorable winds isn’t going to help. It teaches lessons that we should at least be aware of, because in the end, we are all equally responsible for ensuring that our vision of democracy is put into practice in an inclusionary manner.
I very highly recommend this book to anyone, whether you’re interested in the topics mentioned above, enjoy a good fact-based thriller, or are simply a fan of great writing.
“The Poisoned City” is published by Henry Holt & Company. I received a free copy in exchange for a review via Netgalley. All opinions are my own.