Adam L. Penenberg
Adam L. Penenberg is a journalism professor at New York University who has written for Fast Company, Forbes, the New York Times, the Washington Post, Wired, Slate, Playboy, and the Economist. A former senior editor at Forbes and a reporter for Forbes.com, Penenberg garnered national attention in 1998 for unmasking serial fabricator Stephen Glass of the New Republic. Penenberg’s story was a watershed for online investigative journalism and portrayed in the film Shattered Glass (Steve Zahn plays Penenberg).
Penenberg has published several books that have been optioned for film and serialized in the New York Times Magazine, Wired UK, and the Financial Times, and won a Deadline Club Award for feature reporting for his Fast Company story “Revenge of the Nerds,” which looked at the future of movie-making. He has appeared on NBC’s The Today Show as well as on CNN and all the major news networks, and has been quoted about media and technology in the Washington Post, the Christian Science Monitor, USA Today, Wired News, Ad Age, Marketwatch, and Politico.
Publishers Weekly: In a stinging invective, journalist Penenberg outlines the ethical failures and calculated improprieties of two principal automotive-industry companies, along with the struggle of attorney Tab Turner to hold them accountable. Already an established consumer-rights lawyer, Turner began to focus on Ford Explorers equipped with Firestone Wilderness tires in the mid to late 1990s, when the number of cases in which the tread separated from a tire and resulted in an often fatal rollover accident began to become significant. … Penenberg… offers extensive endnotes from an array of sources to back up his claims… . It’s a comprehensive and disturbing book … .
Booklist: Following closely on Keith Bradsher’s High and Mighty, this latest indictment of sport utility vehicle (SUV) safety may portend the start of a new movement against these popular vehicles based on the threat they pose to the safety of all motorists. Business journalist Penenberg’s work focuses on the Ford/Firestone tire debacle, which was a major news story, and the work of an attorney who repeatedly took on two of the most powerful corporations in the world. The book offers a comprehensive look at a notorious corporate scandal and a courtroom drama and investigation that ends in triumph for the many victims.
Boston Globe: Corporate greed is the target of [Blood Highways], a dramatic account of problems with Ford’s popular Bronco and Explorer sport utility vehicles and the Firestone Wilderness AT and ATX tires. Penenberg’s book argues persuasively–and sadly–that in this country, corporate accord and profit seem far more important than safety and conscience.
USA Today … Adam Penenberg, an investigative reporter who exposed a fabricated New Republic story by journalist Stephen Glass in 1998, has clearly done his own exhaustive reporting. He even boasts at the start: ‘All the characters and events depicted in these pages are real.’ So are the truths revealed in these pages. At times, you wish they weren’t. Penenberg meticulously marches the reader through a human and journalistic drama punctuated by deadly engineering flaws and corporate arrogance that resulted in lives being lost and ruined in the insatiable quest for profits. This is a book about one lawyer’s battle and one woman’s struggle for survival and justice as billed. But it is far deeper. These two stories intertwine to lead us through the blinding maze of suits and countersuits, whistle-blowers, politicians, consumer advocates, journalists, engineers and corporate executives. The only way out: Build safer cars. Penenberg invites you to feel the sweat, the exhaustion, the fear, the frustration and the pain of all concerned. That’s good storytelling, and Penenberg lands the details gracefully.
San Francisco Chronicle: In a swift, dramatic account, Penenberg unspins the convoluted political and legal history of the dangerous automotive pairing. Around Bailey’s 10-month odyssey–from the accident on March 10, 2000, to her $27 million settlements with Firestone and Ford in January 2001–he weaves the broader, disastrous stories of both car and tire, and of the various struggles to remove them from American roads. Penenberg tracks Ford’s Explorer stability problems back to a May 1987 engineers’ report; he digs back to the 1988 Bridgestone-Firestone merger–and a subsequent aggressive cost-cutting spree that reduced the amount of rubber in each tire–to find the root of the ATX and Wilderness tires’ fatal flaws. (Along the way, he accumulates an exhaustive, 29-page endnote section.) Penenberg fills the narrative with rich, detailed characters: safety advocates and car investigators, victims and executives, lawyers and journalists. … [H]owever, the real hero in Penenberg’s tale is not Bailey, the bed-bound victim whose case cracked the industry, but Turner, who comes off as a prince among sharp-toothed plaintiffs’ attorneys.
New York Law Journal: [Blood Highways is] a gripping story, and Penenberg tells it well, deftly weaving together the narratives of victims, lawyers and corporate officers alike … [His] comprehensive investigation into the SUV industry unearths problems that go beyond the Firestone debacle. It shows how institutions put in place to protect consumers have been co-opted by the industries they were created to watch … SUVs are still not subject to substantial safety regulations, and Americans continue to buy SUVs under the false impression that they are safer than ordinary cars. Penenberg’s book begs the question, just who is watching out for our safety?
(These reviews refer to an earlier edition of this book, published as Tragic Indifference by HarperCollins, 2003.)
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