Monday, February 21, 2011

Pulitzer-Prize Winning Journalist, Photographer Chronicle Working Class America

CHESTERTOWN, MD—The Rose O’Neill Literary House at Washington College continues its “New Labor Journalism” series on Monday night, February 28, with a visit from the Pulitzer Prize winning collaborative team of journalist Dale Maharidge and Washington Post photographer Michael Williamson. The event begins at 7 p.m. on the LitHouse porch, 407 Washington Avenue.

Maharidge, who began his journalism career at the Cleveland Plain Dealer, started collaborating with Williamson when they met while on the staff at the Sacramento Bee. Their first book together, Journey to Nowhere: The Saga of the New Underclass, is a seminal look at the underside of American prosperity. The book inspired Bruce Springsteen, who eventually wrote an afterword to the reprint of the book, to pen two songs on The Ghost of Tom Joad: “The New Timer” and “Youngstown.”

In 1990, Maharidge and Williamson received the Pulitzer Prize in General Non-fiction for And Their Children After Them, a book that re-visits three Alabama tenant share-cropping families fifty years after they became the subjects of James Agee and Walker Evans’s Let Us Now Praise Famous Men.

Maharidge and Williamson’s collaborations continued in such recent volumes as Denison, Iowa: Searching for the Soul of American Through the Secrets of a Midwest Town (a book students are reading in both an undergraduate and a graduate class at Washington College) and their post-9/11 collection Homeland.

This spring, the University of California Press is releasing a compendium of the multi-decade collaboration between Maharidge and Williamson, Someplace Like America. The publisher describes the book as taking the reader “to the working-class heart of America, bringing to life—through shoe leather reporting, memoir, vivid stories, stunning photographs, and thoughtful analysis—the deepening crises of poverty and homelessness.”