- Hardcover: 256 pages
- Publisher: Harper; Complete Numbers Starting with 1, 1st Ed edition (March 11, 2014)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0062085441
- ISBN-13: 978-0062085443
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 138 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,006,911 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Busted: A Tale of Corruption and Betrayal in the City of Brotherly Love Hardcover – March 11, 2014
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*Starred Review* Benny Martinez had been a drug informant for narcotics cop Jeff Cudjik for seven years. The two men were so close in their successful snitch-and-bust enterprise that Jeff even rented a house next to Benny and his family. When they had a falling out, Benny was on the run, fearful of police and drug dealers who knew he’d sold them out. Benny turned to Philadelphia Daily News reporters Ruderman and Laker, giving them the background on hundreds of busts, many based on fabricated evidence. The reporters, an odd couple—Ruderman, short and pugnacious, and Laker, tall and gracious—began a 10-month series that uncovered widespread abuse in the narcotics unit, from the systematic looting of bodegas to sexual assault by one officer. The series irritated the FBI, in the midst of its own investigation of police corruption, and angered the police and their sympathizers as drug crimes took a toll on the city. Prevailing against threats, intimidation, and the impending bankruptcy of their newspaper, Ruderman and Laker delivered a powerful series on police corruption, ultimately earning the Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting. This is a gritty, true-life thriller about the intersection of policing, drug dealing, and news reporting. --Vanessa Bush
“Equal parts serious journalism and sisterly sass, Busted is a personable and fast-reading ride…a shoe-leather journalistic procedural set against the ticking clock of the failing newspaper industry.” (New York Times Book Review)
“The chick, noir version of All the President’s Men with a little Rocky… and a little almost anything with Rosalind Russell or Barbara Stanwyck.” (Washington Post)
“A riveting tale of two brave reporters who love what they do and are totally committed….engaging, down to earth and at times, very funny.” (USA Today)
“Busted is a very good book about very bad people, a great read about great injustice.…Busted is proof that journalism still lives, still matters.” (Newsweek)
“The new book Busted: A Tale of Corruption and Betrayal in the City of Brotherly Love is the chick, noir version of All the President’s Men.” (Washington Post)
“I admire Wendy Ruderman and Barbara Laker, who are not only Pulitzer-Prize winning journalists, but fearless and fascinating women. Busted reads like a turbo-charged thriller, all the more compelling because it’s true. Pick up a copy, and you won’t be able to put it down.” (Lisa Scottoline)
“A story that not only pounds at the door to come inside, but stands as a much-needed reminder that newspapers are and always have been and, as far as I know, always will be the bedrock of the art of journalism.” (Pete Dexter, journalist and author of National Book Award-winner Paris Trout)
“Busted: A Tale of Corruption and Betrayal in the City of Brotherly Love is the scorching, devastating, and action-packed story of two journalists’ journey into the dark heart of a major city.…Wendy Ruderman and Barbara Laker are true heroes…. I love this book.” (Edna Buchanan, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and bestselling author)
“Busted is a thoroughly engaging…trip into Philadelphia’s underworld, where cops prey on those they are pledged to protect…. Rich with character and incident, it’s a complete original, and a love letter to newspapers in their hour of dire need.” (Mark Bowden, author of Black Hawk Down)
“Busted is a taut, gritty story of drug dealers and corrupt cops written with passion, fury and what Philadelphians refer to as attitude (pronounced ‘atty-tood’). Ruderman and Laker have a lot of that, which is why they’re two of the best reporters in the country.” (George Anastasia, author of Blood and Honor and The Last Gangster)
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Ms. Laker and her "slime sista" colleague, Wendy Ruderman, demonstrate while we need newspapers willing to commit to investigative reporting. This fast paced, easy to read book shows that some times the only thing protecting the public from corrupt officials is reporters willing to take risks, absorb physical and mental abuse, and make sacrifices that can damage their personal lives.
Ms. Laker and Ms. Ruderman are reporters for the Philadelphia Daily News, a feisty tabloid proud to be known as The People Paper. The Daily News, and its sister broadsheet,The Philadelphia Inquirer, are struggling financially like all other big city papers. As the two work on their "Tainted Justice" series of stories, rumors abound that the papers will be sold or the Daily News shuttered or some other disaster awaits just after the next edition. They must put aside this daily dose of despair and focus on what they know how to do; follow a story wherever it takes them. And this is quite a story indeed.
It is filled with real life characters right out of Damon Runyon. There is Benny Martinez, the whining, drug-addicted police informant who garners little sympathy; Jeff Cujdik, a cop willing to bend and break the rules to raise his arrest scores; Lady Gonzalez and Dagma Rodriquez, two brave women willing to put it on the line to stop a serial sexual molester with a badge, Tom Tolstoy; and Brian Tierney, CEO of the Inquirer and Daily News, who strives to maintain local ownership of the papers. (Full disclosure, Tierney is a long-time personal friend.)
There are villians on both sides of the law in this story. Low-life drug dealers selling their merchandise near school yards and cops willing to steal from innocent shop keepers who are trying to eke out a living in some the city's worst neighborhoods.
The villains here will most likely infuriate readers, but there are heroes who will inspire.
There is Gar Joseph, who reminds me of the first city editor I had at a newspaper now long gone. There is Michael Day, Daily News editor, who is willing to commit the resources to Laker and Ruderman's work. There is "Ray," a great Philadelphia cop who despises what bad cops can do to the reputations of all police officers. There is Laker's protective neighbor Dutch, who knows the dangers she faces. And there is "Seven," Laker's dog who has to endure late feedings as she works countless hours.
The story is even more interesting as Laker and Ruderman write about the damage that journalism can do to their personal lives. Laker is recovering from the end of her 25-year-old marriage and Ruderman's husband and two sons question her priorities. (In an afterward, Ruderman notes that her marriage did end, in no small way because of her commitment to her career.)
Newspapers are wonderful places to work. I spent 17 of my younger years as a reporter and editor. Thomas Wolfe once wrote that to be a reporter on the trail of a great story is to feel rush to the cerebral cortex that is orgasmic.
The real hero of the story isThe Daily News and papers like it across the country. If our nation's newspapers die we will lose an important protection many take for granted. Without the work these two women did, a few Philadelphia cops would still be putting innocent people in jail and stealing from hard-working shopkeeprs trying to get by in the rough neighborhoods of the Philadelphia Badlands. No one would know of women sexually assaulted by a cop during drug busts.
In 2010 Laker and Ruderman won the coveted Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Journalism. It was only the third time in the paper's history that it won the highest journalistic honor. No one familiar with the challenges of journalism would deny that they deserved the award.
Today they both still work at adjoining desks at The Daily News, although Ruderman did spend a year as a police reporter for The New York Times before returning to her roots in Philadelphia. They still deal with the rumors that their paper is on the verge of joining others in the newspaper graveyard. And they are still doing what they love. Being damn good newspaper reporters.