For more than two decades, Joshua Prager, a former senior writer for The Wall Street Journal, has written about historical secrets. Using his “remarkable powers of investigation” (Sports Illustrated), he has revealed all from the hidden scheme that led to baseball’s most famous moment (Bobby Thomson’s “Shot Heard Round the World”) to the only-ever anonymous recipient of a Pulitzer Prize (a photographer he tracked down in Iran). His work, described by George Will as “exemplary journalistic sleuthing,” sheds new light on our cultural touchstones.
Continuing in this vein is his groundbreaking book, The Family Roe, a finalist for the 2022 Pulitzer Prize. It details the hidden lives behind Roe v. Wade, humanizing the Supreme Court’s most enduringly divisive case, and enabling us to reassess Roe, to view abortion not through politics but people – starting with the plaintiff “Jane Roe.”
Despite her famous pseudonym, no one knows the full truth about Norma McCorvey (1947–2017), whose unwanted pregnancy in 1970 opened this great fracture in American life. Drawing on a decade of research, The Family Roe reveals the woman behind “Roe.” Propelled by the crosscurrents of politics, sex and religion, gender and class, McCorvey’s life tells the complicated and shifting saga of abortion in America. Writing in novelistic detail about her personal struggles, Prager recounts her story in full for the first time, including an explosive revelation at the core of the case.
Prager spent years with McCorvey, discovering her personal papers—a previously unseen trove—and witnessing her final moments. The Family Roe chronicles her life and weaves in the stories of pro-choice and pro-life activists alike, among them three figures as important as they are unknown: feminist lawyer Linda Coffee, who filed the original Texas lawsuit yet now lives in obscurity; Curtis Boyd, a former fundamentalist Christian, today a leading provider of third-trimester abortions; and Mildred Jefferson, the first Black female Harvard Medical School graduate, who became a pro-life leader with great secrets. An epic work spanning fifty years of American history, The Family Roe will change the way we think about our enduring American divide: the right to choose or the right to life. The book was named a finalist for the National Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction and the Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction, as well as a top book of 2021 by NPR, The New York Times, and TIME.
Revealing the hidden and forgotten is the through line that has defined Prager’s work. In his memoir Half-Life: A Memoir of Walking Again, he tracked down the truck driver responsible for breaking his neck as a young man. And his book The Echoing Green: The Untold Story of Bobby Thomson, Ralph Branca and the Shot Heard Round the World, uncovered the secret cheating scandal behind the generation-defining 1951 New York Giant’s baseball pennant. Named a Best Book of the Year by The Washington Post, The New York Times Book Review called The Echoing Green “a revelation and a page turner, a group character study unequaled in baseball writing since Roger Kahn’s Boys of Summer.” Prager is also a co-author of 100 Years: Wisdom from Famous Writers on Every Year of Life, a collection of literary quotations on every age for our first hundred years. In collaboration with art design by Milton Glaser—the legendary graphic designer who created the I ♥ NY logo—Prager draws from the words of our most beloved authors, to illuminate the ebb and flow of an entire life. Fittingly, the New York Times Book Review noted, “as the pages pass, there is an increasingly wistful sense of what time takes from us.”
In his two popular TED Talks, with over three million total views, Prager probes deep questions on subjects ranging from self-deception, identity and personal transformation in the face of the catastrophic bus accident that left him a hemiplegic at the age of 19, to the life wisdom that transcends continents, cultures, and generations. Beyond TED, he has addressed audiences at Google, the MIT Lincoln Laboratory, the Baseball Hall of Fame, and the Narrative Journalism Conference in South Africa.
A former Nieman fellow at Harvard, Prager has held a Fulbright Distinguished Chair at Hebrew University. His writing has appeared in Vanity Fair, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal, where he was a senior writer for eight years. He lives in New Jersey with his wife and two daughters.
For more information on Joshua Prager, please visit him at joshuaprager.com.Download Joshua Prager's press kit here.