Seth Rosenfeld is an award-winning investigative journalist, book author and expert on public access to government records. His first book, SUBVERSIVES: The FBI’s War on Student Radicals, and Reagan’s Rise to Power, was published in hardback in 2012 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, and in paperback in 2013 by Picador, and became a New York Times best-seller.
SUBVERSIVES traces the FBI’s secret involvement with three iconic figures who clashed at Berkeley during the 1960s: the ambitious neophyte politician Ronald Reagan, the fierce but fragile student radical Mario Savio, and the liberal University of California president Clark Kerr. Through these converging narratives, Rosenfeld tells a dramatic and disturbing story of FBI surveillance, illegal break-ins, infiltration, planted news stories, poison-pen letters and secret detention lists. He reveals how the FBI’s covert operations — led by Reagan’s friend J. Edgar Hoover — helped ignite an era of student protest, undermine the Democrats, and benefit Reagan personally and politically. SUBVERSIVES provides a fresh look at the legacy of the sixties, sheds new light on one of America’s most popular presidents, and tells a timely cautionary tale about the dangers of secrecy and unchecked power.
Rosenfeld began the research that would lead to SUBVERSIVES in 1981, while a journalism student at UC Berkeley writing for the campus newspaper. Little did he know he was embarking on what would become a three-decade legal odyssey into the FBI’s covert campus activities; that he would bring five lawsuits under the Freedom of Information Act in a precedent-setting legal fight; and that seven federal judges would order the FBI to release more than 300,000 pages of once-secret files and pay his pro-bono attorney’s fees of more than $1 million. These cases revealed the bureau’s covert operations at one of the nation’s preeminent public universities and strengthened the public’s right to know. The New York Times Book Review called SUBVERSIVES “electrifying.” NPR’s On the Media cited its “stunning revelations,” and Bookforum described it as “a masterpiece of historical reconstruction and narrative propulsion.”
Rosenfeld was a staff reporter for the San Francisco Examiner and San Francisco Chronicle for nearly 25 years, focusing on legal affairs and law enforcement. His stories exposing Dow Corning Corporation’s cover-up of manufacturing defects in silicone gel breast implants that caused women to undergo avoidable surgery led the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to restrict the use of implants, and won a George Polk Award for Health Reporting. Rosenfeld’s articles have also won honors from the Society of Professional Journalists; Investigative Reporters and Editors, Inc.; the American Association of University Professors; and Harvard University’s Goldsmith Award for Investigative Reporting.
Rosenfeld has been featured on National Public Radio and other national and local broadcasts, and has given many talks. His topics include the conflicts between civil liberties and national security; the Freedom of Information Act, excessive government secrecy and the role of the press in democracy; Ronald Reagan’s hidden relationship with the FBI in the years before he became president; and the secret history of the FBI’s activities during the sixties and how they affected individuals, institutions, and politics.
Journalist Dennis McDougal (Los Angeles Times, New York Times, TV Guide, etc.) is the bestselling author of twelve books, including most recently DYLAN: The Biography released by Turner Publishing in May of 2014. In a career dating to the 1970s, he has also authored hundreds of newspaper and magazine articles and produced award-winning TV documentaries.
Before he began covering movies and media as a staff writer for the Los Angeles Times in the 1980s, McDougal reported for dailies in Riverside and Long Beach, California. He earned a B.A. and M.A. in journalism at UCLA and won a John S. Knight Fellowship in 1981, spending a year teaching and studying psychology and law at Stanford University. A producer for CNN during the murder trial of O.J. Simpson, McDougal has won more than fifty honors, including a George Foster Peabody Award. He is the award-winning biographer of Jack Nicholson, Bob Dylan, Universal Studios chieftain Lew Wasserman and the Los Angeles Times’ Otis Chandler. McDougal was featured in the 2009 PBS documentary that he co-produced about the late Los Angeles Times publisher, “Inventing LA: The Chandlers and Their Times.” He has lectured in journalism and creative writing at UCLA, Stanford, Cal State Fullerton, and Cal State Long Beach. He and his wife Sharon live near Memphis, Tennessee.
Linda Marsa is an award-winning investigative journalist and a contributing editor at Discover who has covered medicine, science, health and the environment for more than two decades. She is a former Los Angeles Times reporter and author of FEVERED: Why a Hotter Planet Will Harm Our Health and How We Can Save Ourselves (Rodale, 2013), which the New York Times called “gripping to read.” FEVERED won an honorable mention as best general nonfiction book of the year from the American Society of Journalists and Authors. She has also written for U.S. News & World Report, Aeon, Popular Science, The Daily Beast and Pacific Standard, among numerous others.
A popular speaker, Linda has lectured widely on climate change at major universities, leading environmental organizations, public health institutes and for general audiences, speaking at venues like George Washington University, Emory University, UC Irvine, University of Colorado and the Public Health Institute in Oakland. She has also been an instructor at The Writer’s Program at UCLA Extension for more than two decades and was named Teacher of the Year in 1999.
William Knoedelseder is a veteran journalist, best-selling author and television news executive who honed his investigative and narrative skills during 12 years as a staff writer at The Los Angeles Times, where his ground breaking coverage of the entertainment industry produced a long string of exposes. His two-year investigation of payola and other corrupt practices in the record business sparked five federal grand jury investigations across the country, led to the arrest and conviction of a score of organized figures, and formed the basis of his first best-selling book, Stiffed: A True Story of MCA, the Music Business and the Mafia (Harper Collins). Stiffed was named Best Non-Fiction work of 1993 by Entertainment Weekly, which called it “the scariest book of the year…and the funniest.” Two of the book’s main characters—New Jersey crime boss Gaetano “Corky” Vastola and Roulette Records founder Morris Levy–later served as the models for HBO’s Tony Soprano and his music mogul advisor, Herman “Hesh” Rabkin.
In a subsequent 13-year television career, Knoedelseder served as the executive producer and creator of news programs and documentaries for Fox Television, Disney, Knight Ridder and USA Broadcasting. For six of those years, he worked closely with Barry Diller, first at Fox and then at USA, where, as Vice President of News, he created an innovative nightly news program in Miami called The Times, which The Miami Herald praised as “a daring blend of newsmagazine-style exploratory journalism with irreverence, humor, dollops of opinion and a wink-of-the-eye attitude.” Miami’s New Times named it “Best Newscast in South Florida.”
Knoedelseder also produced two nationally televised documentaries. Marilyn: Something’s Got to Give, a critically acclaimed two-hour special about the making Marilyn Monroe’s last unfinished film during the final few months of her life, set a primetime ratings record for Fox. All the Presidents’ Movies, a three-hour special for Bravo, examined the movie viewing habits of the modern U.S. Presidents—what they watched, when, with whom, and how it connected to world events—based on the never-before-seen private logs of the official White House movie projectionist from 1953 to 1986. Aired over three nights, the special was narrated by Martin Sheen.
Since 2000, Knoedelseder has written three more books. In Eddie’s Name (Farrar, Straus & Giroux) chronicles the brutal murder of a Philadelphia teenager that made national headlines when Knoedelseder, as executive producer of the Knight Ridder news program Inquirer News Tonight,pressured the city to make public the content of 911 tapes recorded the night of the killing, which ultimately revealed a complete breakdown of Philadelphia’s emergency response system. I’m Dying Up Here: Heartbreak and High Times in Standup Comedy’s Golden Era (Public Affairs/Perseus) recounts Knoedelseder’s time as cub reporter covering the L.A. comedy club scene when David Letterman, Jay Leno, Robin Williams and Andy Kaufman were young and undiscovered. Film/TV rights have been acquired by actor Jim Carrey and the project is in development as a TV series. Knoedelseder’s latest, Bitter Brew: the Rise and Fall of Anhueser-Busch and America’s Kings of Beer, tells the riveting story of one of our nation’s most colorful and longest lasting business dynasties. Called “intoxicating reading,” by The Wall Street Journal, the book became a New York Times best seller and film rights were optioned by Lionsgate Television in association with Michael London, the Oscar-nominated producer of Sideways.
Knoedelseder is currently at work on his third book for Harper Collins, Fins, about the visionary car designer Harley Earl and his role in the phenomenal rise of General Motors.
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