Book Review Sparks Reporting Feud

By Jason Boog Comment

9780670021079L.jpgOver the weekend, journalist Dan Baum reviewed Rebecca Solnit’s new book, “A Paradise Built in Hell: The Extraordinary Communities That Arise in Disaster” for the Washington Post. At the end of the review, Baum criticized her reporting on “illegal killings” in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina. “She is right to raise the issue, but she fails to turn rumor into proof,” he wrote.

Solnit replied in a letter that began, “You slander me and my book,” disputing Baum’s points about the killings. Here’s an excerpt from her letter that sparked a nonfiction reporting feud: “The reluctance of the mainstream media to give credence to this story even in the face of substantial evidence has been one of the most shocking things about it. You owe me an apology. You owe a much bigger one to history.”

On his website, Baum replied in a post entitled, “Evidence vs. Hearsay.” If you want to read more about the city, Baum recently compiled a list of “The Best Books about New Orleans” for The Daily Beast. (Via Jesse Sunenblick) UPDATE: Solnit wrote GalleyCat, sending readers to the work of investigative reporter A. C. Thompson to support her case.