Academic journal article Journalism History

The Muckrakers: Evangelical Crusaders

Academic journal article Journalism History

The Muckrakers: Evangelical Crusaders

Article excerpt

Miraldi, Robert, ed. The Muckrakers: Evangelical Crusaders. Westport, Conn.: Praeger, 2000.164 pp. $65.

The Muckrakers is not a book for everyone. If you do not know anything about the historical phenomenon called muckraking, a time when investigative journalists wrote amazing exposes, mainly in courageous national magazines at the start of the twentieth century, then Robert Miraldi's new book, a collection of essays, would not be a good place to start. The better alternatives are books by Louis Filler or Arthur and Lily Weinberg, both entitled The Muckrakers. These historians provide more comprehensive books that offer a muckraking primer. Filler and the Weinbergs include lengthy excerpts in their books that show what muckraking was about.

But if you are already conversant with muckraking then Miraldi's book is designed for you. If you know, for instance, how muckrakers acted as "preachers, detectives, social workers, educators and even entertainers," and wrote stories that shook up the reading public, but now you want to know what made muckrakers tick, this book provides useful insights. Miraldi has edited seven essays that engage in a variety of debate, psychoanalysis, and study of the heart and soul of the muckrakers.

Bruce J. Evensen of DuPaul University says, for instance, that the muckrakers were evangelicals, motivated by religious zeal. Stephen Whitfield, of Brandeis University, argues that at least one muckraker, Lincoln Steffens, was a walking contradiction. He was a liberal democrat, who was suspicious of common people, a bourgeois communist, and a cultivated, highly educated gentleman who became a born-again Christian, and wanted the strong to rule, not necessarily the good A large group of muckrakers were women who were spearheading a national municipal housekeeping movement, says Agnes Hooper Gottleib of Seton Hall University. …

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