Roots of Steel: Boom & Bust in an American Mill Town (Pantheon, 2010)
When Deborah Rudacille was a child growing up in the working class town of Dundalk, Maryland, a worker at the local Sparrows Point steel mill made more than enough to comfortably support a family. But in the decades since, the decline of American manufacturing has put tens of thousands out of work and left the people of Dundalk pondering the broken promise of the American dream. In Roots of Steel, Rudacille combines personal narrative, interviews with workers, and extensive research to capture the character and history of this once-prosperous community. She takes us from Sparrows Point's nineteenth-century origins to its height in the twentieth century as one of the largest producers of steel in the world, providing the material that built America's bridges, skyscrapers, and battleships. Throughout, Rudacille dissects the complicated racial, class and gender politics that played out in the mill and its neighboring towns, and details both the arduous and dangerous work at the plant and the environmental cost of industrial progress to the air and waterways of the Maryland shore. Powerful, candid, and eye-opening, Roots of Steel is a timely reminder, as the American economy seeks to restructure itself, of the people who inevitably have been left behind.
The Riddle of Gender: Science, Activism and Transgender Rights (Pantheon, 2005)
In 2000, when Deborah Rudacille learned that a close friend had decided to transition from female to male, she felt compelled to try to understand the reasons for her friend's decision to inject testosterone and live as a man. At the time there was little information available to help cisgender people understand and support the choices of their their trans friends and family members. Published nearly 14 years ago, and a finalist for a Lambda Literary Award, The Riddle of Gender was one of the first books by a cisgender person to compassionately address the unique challenges encountered by gender non-conforming people throughout Western history. Coming at the subject from several angles--historical, sociological, psychological, medical--Rudacille discovered that gender non-conformity is anything but new, that changing one's gender (or living between genders) has been met with both acceptance and hostility through the years, and that gender identity, like sexual orientation, appears to be inborn. Informed not only by meticulous research but also by the author's interviews with prominent members of the transgender community, including historian and activist Susan Stryker, neuroscientist Ben Barres (now deceased), and pioneering trans actress Aleshia Brevard, The Riddle of Gender remains a landmark publication in the still-evolving fight for transgender rights.
The Scalpel and The Butterfly: The War Between Animal Research and Animal Protection (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2000)
Is any amount of animal distress justified to save or enhance human life? Is it ethically permissible to use animals for research--whether to test new drugs, for organ transplants, or as genetically altered suppliers of spare parts for human beings? In this sweeping history of animal research and protection, Deborah Rudacille shows how such questions, and the answers provided by both scientists and antivivisectionists over the past 150 years, have shaped contemporary society. From Pasteur's experiments with anthrax and rabies to Wilmut and Campbell's cloning of Dolly, Rudacille describes a remarkable trajectory of scientific progress, one that has been accompanied by vocal, if not virulent, opposition. Brilliantly written, far-ranging in its research, and remarkable for balancing--with empathy and insight--radically opposed viewpoints, The Scalpel and The Butterfly stands as a first-rate work of investigative science journalism.