Undoubtedly, the last 100 years have seen some of the biggest upheavals in American society. It can be fascinating to read journalistic accounts of impactful political events on our culture. Here are just a few of the most influential journalistic accounts of the past century and why reading about these events can be a life-changing experience.


  1. “Angela’s Ashes” by Frank McCourt

Born in Brooklyn, NY to recent immigrants from Ireland, Frank McCourt’s account of growing up in dire poverty during the Great Depression offers a stunning glimpse of America in the throes of its greatest financial crisis. It’s also a wonderful look at the qualities that unify Americans from vastly different walks of life, but it’s McCourt’s wonderful prose that makes “Angela’s Ashes” so eminently readable and enjoyable.


  1. “All the President’s Men” by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein

Both a catalyst for and a reckoning of perhaps the biggest political scandal in American history, “All the President’s Men” is a milestone in political journalism that managed to force a sitting President to step down from his position. If you’ve ever wondered about the background of Watergate and its attendant scandals, “All the President’s Men” is a must-read. American journalism was never the same after this book.


  1. The “Russia Re-Viewed” Series by Harrison Salisbury

In a series of articles for The New York Times written during the late-1940s and early-1950s, journalist Harrison Salisbury tore back the curtain on the then-mysterious Soviet Union. Thanks to a steady stream of Soviet propaganda portraying the country as something of a utopia, most Americans at the time did not realize the extent of the horrors that had taken place under Joseph Stalin’s leadership. Salisbury’s accounts of the deeply-troubled country were a wakeup call to the world about the dangers of totalitarianism. Our understanding of dictatorships changed as the result of this series, and by reading this work, you can better recognize the manipulative nature of propaganda and how easily it is to be deceived.


  1. “The Right Stuff” by Tom Wolfe

In its earliest incarnation, the American Space Program was truly revolutionary in its approach to the concept of space travel. In this gripping book by Tom Wolfe, the astronauts who put their lives on the line to advance the cause of scientific discovery really come to life before our eyes. If you’ve ever wondered how America managed to put people on the moon, this book might be the best place to start. Even today, reading this piece can inspire and enlighten; what was once considered impossible became reality, and that truth lends itself to a promising, optimistic perspective we can benefit from.