Review, Undaunted

Booklist: Review of Undaunted by Carol Haggas, May 15, 2023

May 15, 2023

Undaunted: How Women Changed American Journalism.

By Brooke Kroeger

May 2023. 592p. Knopf, $35 (9780525659143). 070.4082

Since the nation’s inception, wise women have been pursuing the decidedly difficult goal of making their voices heard through the public record. Writers such as Ida Tarbell in the nineteenth century and Fannie Hurst in the early twentieth paved the way for such intrepid wartime correspondents as Martha Gellhorn and Marguerite Higgins in the later twentieth. They, in turn, provided the foundation for contemporary reporters such as Nikole Hannah-Jones and Jill Abramson. Kroeger, a journalism professor, biographer, reporter, and editor, chronicles their stores and those of dozens of other trailblazing women journalists who prevailed in a traditionally male-dominated industry. While their numbers may have waxed and waned over the years, their influence remains unwavering. Battling the sexism of their colleagues and publishers, they endeavored to break a ceiling made not of glass but of newsprint and Nielsen ratings. Kroeger’s immersive history examines the myriad challenges they faced professionally and from society writ large and celebrates the ingenuity, valor, and integrity with which they pursued their goals. Merging feminist struggles with journalistic triumphs, Kroeger sheds an important light on both spheres.— Carol Haggas