An Amazing Detective Story

2014 Pulitzer Prize in Non-Fiction
2014 Pulitzer Prize in Non-Fiction

How a group of determined citizens and scientists found the truth and prevented more deaths. 

Dan Fagin received the 2014 Pulitzer Prize in Nonfiction for his book, Toms River: A Story of Science & Salvation. He is the Director of the Science, Health and Environmental Reporting Program at New York University, has held several fellowships throughout his career and spent fourteen years at Newsday as an environmental reporter.   Toms River: A Story of Science and Salvation also won three other awards for outstanding Journalism. He also wrote Toxic Deception: How the Chemical Industry Manipulates Science, Bends the Law and Endangers Your Health   

Food For Thought & Conversation

  • Dan believes that “The obligation of Democracy is to be fully engaged– to show up and to take time to educate oneself about the complexities of the issue and to speak out.” Please share any experiences you have had doing that.
  • Scientifically proving a link between the cause of cancer and environmental toxins is difficult due to the typically small number of cases involved in “cluster cancers”.  However, dedicated scientists with a strong moral sense stayed on the case working outside their job hours and ultimately proved some specific cancers were linked to the toxic water, i.e., leukemia in girls if their mothers drank the toxic water while pregnant. Please share your reaction. Do you know of any other scientific “heroes” like those in Toms River?
  • What is your opinion of the final outcome of the legal case against the corporation?
  • Dan points out in the interview that “capitalism’s short term gain decreases long term sustainability”. Please elaborate on your thoughts about that statement.


  • Learn more about environmental racism –corporate dumping toxic waste in low income areas. What local examples do you know about? How have they been combatted or solved? Is there any action you can take to help?