Storm Lake: A Chronicle of Change, Resilience, and Hope from a Heartland Newspaper

Art Cullen. Viking, $28 (336p) ISBN 978-0-525-55887-3
Pulitzer Prize–winning editor Cullen reflects on his 28 years chronicling small-town Iowa for the Storm Lake Times (which he co-owns) in this memoir that gracefully illuminates the challenges facing the American heartland. Composed of political history, tales of civic controversies, and human interest stories, the subject matter is elevated by Cullen’s passion into parables relevant to all Americans. The changing demographics of Storm Lake and agricultural decline serve as primary points of tension (“The wrench of efficiency turns and squeezes and turns. Every year farms grow larger and people fewer”). Cullen shows compassion for newly arrived immigrants (“Back when Latinos were starting to arrive, a bunch of good-hearted people in town set up a community get-to-know-you potluck”) and longtime residents that transcends partisanship, although he demonstrates a clear disdain for Republican congressman Steve King, “who had an uncanny way of getting his zany views of history and European (read that white) culture on national television.” At times Cullen dives too deeply into the minutiae of Storm Lake’s history, but he nevertheless remains informative. Journalism buffs will understand the struggles he faces of keeping a small publication in print with a circulation of just 3,000 and will marvel at his resourcefulness. Cullen’s portrayal of the daily livelihood of Midwesterners gives a window into small-town America. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 08/06/2018
Release date: 10/02/2018
Genre: Nonfiction
Ebook - 978-0-525-55888-0
Paperback - 336 pages - 978-0-525-55889-7
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Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio
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