Review, Undaunted


November 7, 2023

“Compendious and lively . . . Deeply researched and encyclopedic in the best sense, the book attempts to create a broad new canon of unforgettables.” — Jane Kamensky, The New York Times

“Terrific . . . In a masterly work of broad research and elegant synthesis, Kroeger writes a lively, fast-paced account spanning 150 years in newspapers, magazines, and television news. Cataloging a dizzying array of characters in complex and unconventional exploits, Kroeger conveys both the glory and the sexist humiliation and roadblocks these talented, driven women experienced.” — Clara Bingham, The Guardian

“We all owe a debt to the brave women reporters Kroeger profiles here, from some household names to others who should be.” People “Best New Books”

“A fascinating history of women in American journalism.” Tina Jordan, Deputy Book Editor, The New York Times Books Newsletter

“This book is a timely reminder that while women have come a long way in journalism, their gains can’t be taken for granted . . .  Kroeger is well equipped to take us through generations of determined, tenacious women.”—Janet Hook, Los Angeles Times

“Eye-opening . . . For nearly 100 years, no new book for a wide audience had been published documenting the contributions of women to journalism. It was certainly time for an update . . . In addition to getting into major transformation in the field of journalism, Undaunted is also a delight for the many personal stories it relates.” Veronica Esposito, The Guardian

“[Undaunted] is packed with the stories of women who have taken part in writing the first draft of history . . . [Written] with refreshing positivity . . . Kroeger is a great champion of women, and she is a preserver of the long, rich historical record.”—Meghan Cox Gurdon, The Wall Street Journal

“Monumental . . . A substantial work of research on women journalists over the last 180 years, underscoring both sexist hurdles and tremendous breakthroughs . . . A tour de force that should be in every library and school in the country.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“Not since Ishbel Ross’ 1936 Ladies of the Press has such a comprehensive and essential text looked at women’s journalism history. … Undaunted is a true triumph and an authoritative text.  . . .  At 568 pages—approximately 140 of which are references—this book is encyclopedic and should serve as a reference for scholars and graduate students studying journalism and American history.  . . . Overall, Kroeger tells a history more complete than we have ever seen before. I expect that few if any scholars will recognize all the names in Undaunted, and that, after reading, even fewer will forget their stories.” Ashley Walter, Ph.D., American Journalism

“A sweeping history . . .  Kroeger more than proves that women have ‘faced down and overcome all manner of impediment to become integral to this enterprise’ . . . a solidly researched and fluidly written overview of an important chapter in women’s history.” — Publishers Weekly

“Women’s increasing numbers in, and influence on, American journalism — the recent elevation of two female execs at CNN meant that women now direct or co-direct every major U.S. news network — is the whole point of Undaunted . . .” David Alpern, East Hampton Star

“I wish I had known all this when I made my unsuccessful foray into journalism in 1967.  After six months working as a writer and photographer for a community newspaper I walked into the offices of four of Chicago’s five daily newspapers.  When I asked the front desk about joining the staff I was practically laughed out the door.  No one even looked at my carefully prepared portfolio of stories and photographs.  I was told that women couldn’t work for their newspapers  because “women can’t cover riots.”  If I had read Undaunted before I heard this, I could have replied that women have covered wars at least since the Civil War. . . . [Kroeger’s] own years as a journalist shine through in her writing. Undaunted is a good read.” Jo Freeman, Senior Women Web

“A very well documented book that reviews the great contributions of notable American reporters in the last two centuries.” Guadalupe Treibel, Pagina 12 (Buenos Aires)

“Kroeger’s immersive history examines the myriad challenges [women journalists] 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.” — Booklist

“After her sharp, smart biographies of pathbreaking women writers like Fannie Hurst and Nellie Bly . . .  Kroeger extends her vision and now chronicles the full sweep of female reporters . . . Kroeger’s powerful history is a way to consider the continually winding road toward equality for women.” National Book Review, “5 Hot Books”

“Significant . . . in useful and engaging detail [Undaunted illustrates] how acceptance of women reporters and editors was glacial and incremental, how deeply entrenched newsroom sexism has been, and the degree to which those factors affected the way news consumers thought and think about life in the United States. [A] principal contribution has been the breadth of her catalog and how up to date it is, including events as late as mid-2022, and her welcome documentation of the way women journalists were change agents for their profession.” — Sheila Gibbons, Media Report to Women, Winter 2023

“A captivating and inspiring history of American women in journalism . . . an essential read for anyone interested in journalism or women’s history, and it’s a reminder that even in the face of adversity, women have always been undaunted in their pursuit of excellence.” BooksWorld, “47+ Best History Books”

“From Margaret Fuller to Nellie Bly, Ida Tarbell, and Ida B. Wells to the women who reported major news from the Civil War, World War II, and beyond to more recent stars like Joan Didion, Cokie Roberts, Charlayne Hunter-Gault, and those following the #MeToo movement, veteran journalist Kroeger sweepingly chronicles the women who have shaped journalism in the United States.” Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal Pre-Pub Alert

“Kroeger shines a light on her foremothers and colleagues, women who have worked in U.S. journalism for decades without much recognition. . . . An important book that will hopefully inspire more histories of women in journalism.” Bethanne Patrick, CultureWag

An important book that will “I honestly don’t believe I’ve met this author, but I must have because she had to have written this book specifically for me. It is exactly the kind of nonfiction I love. Feminist. Journalist. Historical. Powerful. Insightful.” Bookstagram @kelly_hunsaker_reads     “Undaunted is proof that no every patriotic hero bore a gun or wore pants. Historically, most of the women who poured their souls into the Fourth Estate were treated like witnesses to their own execution. Everyone got to make a speech about them but them. Now their story is told by one of their own, with the forthright candor and superbe journalistic skill for which Brooke Kroeger is known. The pioneers in this tome were foot soldiers of justice and imagination. Their presence in newsrooms challenged the very nature of journalism, which by its nature, lives in a language dipped in the subtle but charged effective strength of male prejudice For all their talent and skill, these women had no voice in history. Now, thanks to Kroeger, they have one.  James McBride, author of The Heaven and Earth Grocery Store.

“Brooke Kroeger here offers an invaluable accounting of two centuries of achievement. Full of surprising stories, Undaunted masterfully charts individual breakthroughs while building the larger narrative of female journalists in America. While it can be disheartening to watch the same issues come back decade after decade, it is impossible to read this record of journalistic innovation without a sense of triumph.” —Kim Todd, author of Sensational: The Hidden History of America’s “Girl Stunt Reporters.” @arden4est

“For too long the contributions of women to American journalism have been devalued or overlooked. Fortunately, Brooke Kroeger has retrieved many of their inspiring tales from the wastebin of history to show how women forever changed the field. An overdue collective history of generations of intrepid female journalists.”—Pamela Newkirk, Ph.D., NYU Professor of Journalism, author of Diversity, Inc., and Within the Veil: Black Journalists, White Media @ptnewkirk

“Editors confined them to the women’s section, and thought them too emotional for wider duty. Bosses insisted they could not go out at night without a male escort. Professional societies would not let them in. Historians of journalism wiped them from the story. Newspapers mercilessly underpaid them. And everyone seemed to observe upon their “nature,” said to be ill-suited for journalism’s toughest tasks. The gradual overcoming of these barriers is the grand theme of Brooke Kroeger’s Undaunted, a phenomenal work of research with a simple point to make. Women are half the public. Making them equal in the newsroom is not an option but a necessity.” —Jay Rosen, media critic, NYU Associate Professor of Journalism, author of What Are Journalists For? @jayrosen_nyu

“With unprecedented scope, Brooke Kroeger has created a fast-paced beautifully written account of fearless women journalists across America whose inspiring, relentless determination overcame pernicious behavior and persistent barriers. Undaunted is a heavy dose of inspiration for today’s women working in journalism and all women still knocking down gender barriers.” —Jennifer Preston, Senior Fellow, Shorenstein Center for Media, Politics, and Policy @jenniferpreston

“In the no-stone-unturned style of the reporters whose exploits she retells, Brooke Kroeger documents how tenacious pioneers from Nellie Bly to Nikole Hannah-Jones blasted through the walls of journalism, exposed topics previously ignored, and built a home for women in America’s most controversial profession even as newsrooms fought for survival. Kroeger leaves no doubt that enterprising women have long narrated America’s real story.”—Elizabeth Cobbs, author of Fearless Women: Feminist Patriots from Abigail Adams to Beyoncé @Elizabeth_Cobbs