Author: Edited by Patsy Sims Category:

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THE STORIES WE TELL: Classic True Tales by America’s Greatest Women Journalists.

“The caliber of work makes this collection a master class in long-form journalism.”
Kirkus Reviews

The Stories We Tell celebrates the work of twenty women who have made major contributions to the canon of American magazine writing.

While each has her own style, the women in these pages share the attributes of all good writers: meticulous research and reporting, attention to detail, a talent for choosing the perfect word. Above all, they are astute observers and sticklers for accuracy. Over the years, they have been both prolific and versatile, writing about a wide range of topics, including Joan Didion’s landmark story about a suburban California woman convicted of burning her husband to death in their family Volkswagen, Susan Orlean’s profile of a female bullfighter, Lillian Ross’s stylish Talk of the Town pieces, Janet Malcolm’s profile of the brilliant young pianist Yuja Wang, Gloria Steinem’s memorable piece about Jackie Kennedy after the death of her husband, President John F. Kennedy, and Robin Marantz Henig’s poignant account of the determination of one Alzheimer’s victim to end her life on her own terms.

Stories by: Madeleine Blais, E. Jean Carroll, Joan Didion, Melissa Fay Greene, Lis Harris, Robin Marantz Henig, Gerri Hirshey, Elizabeth Kaye, Jeanne Marie Laskas, Adrian Nicole LeBlanc, Jill Lepore, Suzannah Lessard, Janet Malcolm, Susan Orlean, Lillian Ross, Susan Sheehan, Gloria Steinem, Mimi Swartz, Joyce Wadler, Isabel Wilkerson.

 The Stories We Tell is part of The Sager Group’s  Women in Journalism series, which honors the contributions women have made (and continue to make) to the evolution of graceful literary reportage  in America and around the world.

About the editor: Patsy Sims is an award-winning journalist and the author of three books. She is the past director of Goucher College’s MFA program in creative nonfiction.


Constance Hale, who teaches writing and editing at Harvard University and the University of California at Berkeley, has placed The Stories We Tell first on her list of Anthologies of Narrative Journalism, above Best American Writing, The Princeton Anthology of Writing, Poynter’s Best Newspaper Writing and others.     Read the entire post here:

“It only took 50 years for the women of long-form journalism to really get their due in an anthology, the newly published The Stories We Tell: Classic Tales by America’s Greatest Women Journalists. . . The anthology is a feast of great writing by 20 journalists at the top of their game.”
Harvard’s Neiman Storyboard

“What a treasure trove! The fact that these stories are all written by women makes this book even more intriguing. How wonderful to be part of this vibrant and beautiful anthology.”
Susan Orlean, author of eight books, including The Orchid Thief.

 “This is the collection I wish I’d had when I was starting out as a writer. Back then, non-fiction was the purview of men; here’s an unequivocal affirmation that it no longer is.”
Elizabeth Kaye, author of six books, including Lifeboat No. 8.



An anthology of landmark long-form articles written by female journalists.

“Sims, herself a published journalist, has put together an anthology of magazine pieces by female writers. Some of the names will be well-known to readers—Joan Didion, Susan Orlean, Gloria Steinem. The essays contrast with each other in meaningful ways: murderers and survivors of murder attempts, famous and little-known figures in American history, high school students and a woman dying of Alzheimer’s. The caliber of work makes this collection a master class in the sort of long-form journalism that is published in magazines like the New Yorker and Vanity Fair, where many of these pieces were first seen. The diversity of subjects illustrates the breadth of work that is done by female journalists; it includes subjects and topics that historically might have been assigned to male journalists (such as “Soul Survivor,” Isabel Wilkerson’s profile of Black Power activist Kwame Ture, formerly known as Stokely Carmichael). There is a helpful table of contents with summaries of the stories, and short biographies of the writers precede each piece. Some essays were published recently, like “Yuja Wang and the Art of Performance,” Janet Malcolm’s profile of the young concert pianist from 2016, and others are older, like “Mrs. Kennedy at the Moment,” Gloria Steinem’s profile of Jacqueline Kennedy’s life after JFK’s assassination, which ran in 1964. (It would have been helpful if the book listed where and when each piece originally ran.) Standout stories aside from those already mentioned include “The Last Day,” Robin Marantz Henig’s story of a woman determined to end her own life after being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, and “The Cheerleaders” by E. Jean Carroll, a heartbreaking account of a connected series of murders and suicides in Dryden, New York. Particularly wrenching is the description of a young survivor who yelled into the author’s tape recorder, “This is reality, people! This really happened, OK?” It brings the emotional work these writers do sharply into focus.

“An engrossing anthology of work, full of intimate details, from veterans of magazine journalism.”

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 2017
Publisher: The Sager Group
Review Posted Online: July 28th, 2017


“One of the many beauties of nonfiction as a genre is that it invites diversity in the stories it seeks to tell and, by extension, in the practitioners who tell those stories.  At long last, the contributions of women as leaders in this field are being fully acknowledged.”
– Madeleine Blais, author of  To the New Owners.

“Here’s the book you’ve been missing, the only one you’ll need for the next week or two, brimming with tall tales, hairpin turns, and poignant moments, all of them true, and with deftly-captured personalities brought vividly to life in these pages.
– Melissa Fay Greene, author of Praying for Sheetrock.

“This is an amazing collection of journalists who just happen to be female–it’s a must read for any and all young writers, a much-needed road map for how to report, write, and think about stories.
Mimi Swartz, author, editor and two-time National Magazine Award winner.

“I’m so honored to be included in these pages with some of the true masters of our genre. I’ve been waiting for a book like this for longest time. The Stories We Tell belongs in the permanent collection of anyone who loves reading and writing reported stories and essays.”
– Jeanne Marie Laskas, author of Concussion.

“I won’t be here to witness it, but won’t it be a fine day when anthology specifically focused on women journalists won’t make any sense?”
– Adrian LeBlanc, author of Random Family.