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Review: ‘Busted’ by Wendy Ruderman and Barbara Laker

Title: Busted: A Tale of Corruption and Betrayal in the City of Brotherly Love
Author: Wendy Ruderman and Barbara Laker
Genre: Nonfiction
Year: 2014
Publisher: Harpber
Acquired: From the publisher via Edelweiss for review consideration
Rating: ★★★★½

Review: On a cold but sunny morning in December 2008, Benny Martinez walked into the office of the Philadelphia Daily News and asked for reporter Wendy Ruderman. In a small meeting room in the newspaper office, Martinez related “a Shakespearean tale of trust, betrayal and revenge” involving a member of the Philadelphia Police Department’s narcotics squad.

As Ruderman and her colleague, Barbara Laker, dug deeper into Martinez’s story, they uncovered a web of corruption centered around several members of the city’s narcotics squad. Their perseverance, which uncovered falsified search warrants, thefts from immigrant-owned businesses, and accusation of sexual assaults — eventually won them a Pulitzer Prize in investigative reporting. 

I suppose it’s not much of a surprise that I’d be excited to read a book like this one. I love stories by and about journalists, especially stories that highlight the work and luck it takes to be successful in our business. Laker and Ruderman are the sort of confident, empathetic and tenacious reporters that I admire most and love to read about.

In addition, Busted is an interesting look both at what it takes to be a mother and a journalist, and what it was like to work at a regional newspaper in the midst of the crisis that hit journalism in the last 2000s. These explorations of their personal lives and the the challenges to the systems that make good journalism happen gave this book a different spin than I was expecting.

Busted is also a surprisingly quick read. I felt like I flew through it, mostly because the style is straight-forward and conversational. If you like stories with passionate reporting that exposes wrongdoing and abuses of power, then Busted will be right up your alley.

Other Reviews: Kirkus Reviews | Publishers Weekly |

If you have reviewed this book, please leave a link to the review in the comments and I will add your review to the main post. All I ask is for you to do the same to mine — thanks!

{ 8 comments… add one }

  • bermudaonion (Kathy) March 11, 2014, 7:00 am

    This sounds like a book I’d love too!

  • Trisha March 11, 2014, 5:46 pm

    It takes serious moxy to do something like this.

    • Kim March 12, 2014, 6:59 pm

      Moxy is a great word for it!

  • Jennine G. March 12, 2014, 7:42 am

    That’s crazy – sounds like the plot to a movie. Amazing the things that go on and no one knows.

    • Kim March 12, 2014, 7:00 pm

      I could not believe some of the things these cops were doing and getting away with! It’s seems totally insane to me that people wold know this is happening and just ignore it.

  • Christy March 12, 2014, 8:29 pm

    As much as there’s some aspects about the media that annoy me, like when they spin themselves up over nothing, I love hearing about when journalists are able to fulfill the higher purpose of the free press, which is to keep authorities of all sorts accountable. I will add this book to my to-read list.

    • Kim March 16, 2014, 8:36 pm

      Yes, I like that too :)

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