Storm Lake: A Chronicle of Change, Resilience, and Hope from a Heartland Newspaper Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
"A reminder that even the smallest newspapers can hold the most powerful among us accountable." (The New York Times Book Review)
Iowa plays an outsize role in national politics. Iowa introduced Barack Obama and voted bigly for Donald Trump. But is it a bellwether for America, a harbinger of its future? Art Cullen’s answer is complicated and honest.
In truth, Iowa is losing ground. The Trump trade wars are hammering farmers and manufacturers. Health insurance premiums and drug prices are soaring. That’s what Iowans are dealing with, and the problems they face are the problems of the heartland.
In this candid and timely audiobook, Art Cullen - the Storm Lake Times newspaperman who won a Pulitzer Prize for taking on big corporate agri-industry and its poisoning of local rivers - describes how the heartland has changed dramatically over his career. In a story where politics, agriculture, the environment, and immigration all converge, Cullen offers an unsentimental ode to rural America and to the resilient people of a vibrant community of 15,000 in Northwest Iowa, as much survivors as their town.
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|Listening Length||10 hours and 37 minutes|
|Narrator||Chris Henry Coffey|
|Audible.ca Release Date||October 02 2018|
|Best Sellers Rank|| #262,566 in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals) |
#265 in Ecology of Aquatic Life (Books)
#273 in Lake & Pond Ecosystems
#703 in Rural Communities
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The autobiographical writing is hugely interesting, and the passages about local Iowans are laced with insight and humor. The politics are deftly implied, except in the fearsome explanation of the political water-rights battle that Art and his paper exposed. The general theme of the book is stewardship of the land and water that make up Iowa, and the environmental and societal impact of rapidly changing farming ownership and methodology. Art comes down on the side of the small lakes and rivers that define the Storm Lake, of course. He also extolls the literal groundbreaking science of sustainable agriculture in a way anyone can read and understand. Less is more, sometimes.
We get to meet the immigrants that have come to Storm Lake and made their homes there. We also meet Congressman Steve King, (R-Iowa) who would like to send them all back to places where they were starving, brutalized and disenfranchised. The argument for the immigrants coming to Storm Lake is powerful. They are really not that different than the whiter people that originally settled Storm Lake. They do the jobs softer white Americans won't do. They run for office! Sometimes they win!
As the Pulitzer signals, the writing is graceful and sharp at the same time. Cullen has paid his dues as a newspaperman, but this book is the work of a skilled long-form writer. Still, the very best passages are lifted from the newspaper column Art publishes without fail every Tuesday in his family's newspaper. Iowans will recognize the political figures he aims at. Outsiders will love the intrigue even if they know nothing about the actual people.
Storm Lake is a beautiful read. It borders on the poetic, without losing narrative. It tells an internationally important story by focusing on the local drama of everyday life.
You should buy and read this book. You'll be glad you did.
This book is for you if:
* You care about the water you drink, the food you eat, and the planet you inhabit.
* You care about corporate influence on your life and the lives of your family, friends and neighbors.
* You care about immigration.
* You want to hear about a small town that has been wonderfully transformed by the influx of new residents from all over the world.
* You love really good writing....not formulaic writing, but writing that will remind you of the stylized writing of some of the great writers like Twain and Keillor.
* You love a good story well told.
* You care about family and like reading about others and their family stories.
* You love to pull for the underdog.
* You care about good journalism and you don’t think that the news media are the “enemy of the people.”
Cullen’s book is a gift to America, a gift that will inform you, entertain you, and pull at your heartstrings. If you are afflicted, it will comfort you. Buy it. Read it. Tell your friends about it.
I couldn't put the book down.
Mr. Cullen's writing style is easy and flowing. I felt like I was sitting at a Storm Lake coffee shop listening to him talk about his life and the lives of some of the immigrants who have helped rejuvenate the city (and some of the harrowing stories about their lives pre-Storm Lake).
I also learned a lot about how farming has changed and the rise of Big Ag. I knew this but hadn't really thought about how it affects our food supply. It's a hard lesson, and it's tough to read about politicians who are more concerned about the mighty dollar than the world we are leaving to our kids.
Mr. Cullen also makes it clear how important local newspapers are for their communities and how difficult it has been to sustain "The Storm Lake Times" in this social-media news climate.