Rick Bragg at the 2008 Texas Book Festival
July 26, 1959 |
Piedmont, Alabama, United States
Rick Bragg (born July 26, 1959) is an American author and journalist known for his non-fiction books, especially those on his family in Alabama. Bragg won the Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing in 1996 for his work at The New York Times.
Early life 
Bragg was born in the small city of Piedmont in northeastern Alabama and grew up in the small community of Possum Trot near Jacksonville. He credited his ability to write to listening to his family tell stories. He was raised primarily by his mother, as his father was an alcoholic and was almost never home. His relatives were also very involved in his young life, and greatly influenced his personal and emotional development.
Bragg worked at several newspapers before joining the New York Times in 1994. He covered murders and unrest in Haiti as a metro reporter, then wrote about the Oklahoma City bombing, the Jonesboro killings, the Susan Smith trial and more as a national correspondent based in Atlanta. He later became the paper's Miami bureau chief just in time for Elián González's arrival and the international controversy surrounding the Cuban boy. Bragg won the Pulitzer Prize for his work.
Bragg has authored five books: All Over But the Shoutin, Ava's Man, The Prince of Frogtown, I Am a Soldier Too: The Jessica Lynch Story, the authorized biography of American POW Jessica Lynch, and The Most They Ever Had.
Arguably his most famous book, All Over But the Shoutin tells the story of Bragg's childhood in Alabama, his rise to becoming a notable journalist, his personal struggles and the stories of the people he cares about. The book pays special attention to his struggles with his abusive alcoholic father, and the story of his mother who raised Bragg and his two brothers on her own. A powerful memoir, the book is credited with bringing Bragg his initial fame as a writer, and remains his most famous book.
For the story -- an account of Florida Gulf Coast oystermen culture he had written the year before -- Bragg relied on the reporting of a volunteer intern, J. Wes Yoder. The article ran with a dateline of Apalachicola, Florida, and began:
"The anchor is made from the crankshaft of a junked car, the hull is stained with bottom muck, but the big Johnson outboard motor is brand new. Chugging softly, it pushes the narrow oyster boat over Apalachicola Bay, gently intruding on the white egrets that slip like paper airplanes just overhead, and the jumping mullet that belly-flop with a sharp clap into steel-gray water."
The Washington Post reported that "Bragg freely admits that he sent his intern, Yoder, who was compensated only with lunch and rent money, on the boat." A review by the Times found that while Bragg "indeed visited Apalachicola briefly and wrote the article, the interviewing and reporting on the scene were done by a freelance journalist, J. Wes Yoder. The article should have carried Mr. Yoder's byline with Mr. Bragg's."
Bragg's defense — that it is common for Times correspondents to slip in and out of cities to "get the dateline" while relying on the work of stringers, researchers, interns and clerks — was contested by Times reporters, and sparked "more passionate disagreement than the clear-cut fraud and plagiarism committed by fellow reporter Jayson Blair."
Later career 
Bragg has taught writing in colleges and in newspaper newsrooms. He now works as a writing professor at the University of Alabama's journalism program in its College of Communications and Information Sciences.
His 2008 book, The Prince of Frogtown, explores his father's life in Bragg's hometown of Jacksonville, Alabama.
Besides winning a Pulitzer Prize, Bragg has received more than 50 writing awards in 20 years, including the prestigious American Society of Newspaper Editors Distinguished Writing Award twice. In 1992, he was awarded a Nieman Fellowship at Harvard University.
- Bragg, Rick (March 16, 1999). All Over But the Shoutin′. Random House Value Publishing. ISBN 0-517-36162-0.
- Bragg, Rick (November 1, 1999). Wooden Churches: A Celebration. Algonquin Books. ISBN 1-56512-233-X.
- Bragg, Rick (August 28, 2001). Somebody Told Me: The Newspaper Stories of Rick Bragg. Vintage; 1st Vintage Books edition. ISBN 0-375-72552-0.
- Bragg, Rick (August 13, 2002). Ava's Man. Vintage; 1st Vintage Books edition. ISBN 0-375-72444-3.
- Bragg, Rick (2003). I Am a Soldier, Too: The Jessica Lynch Story. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. ISBN 1-4000-4257-7.
- Bragg, Rick (May 6, 2008). The Prince of Frogtown. Random House. ISBN 978-0-7393-2796-8.
- Bragg, Rick (October 2009). The Most They Ever Had. MacAdam/Cage. ISBN 1-59692-361-X.
See also 
- Rick Bragg at Randomhouse
- Rick Bragg Bookbrowse Author Biography
- Rick Bragg at University of Alabama
- Rick Bragg articles at Byliner
- Booknotes interview with Bragg on Somebody Told Me: The Newspaper Stories of Rick Bragg, October 15, 2000.
- Howard Kurtz (May 29, 2003; Page C01). "Rick Bragg Quits At New York Times". Washington Post. Retrieved 2007-11-24.
- Rose Arce (May 29, 2003 Posted: 0433 GMT (12:33 PM HKT)). "Times accepts Pulitzer-winning reporter's resignation". CNN. Retrieved 2007-11-24.
- Steinberg, Jacques. ""Times Reporter Steps Down Amid Criticism"". New York Times.
- "Rick Bragg Quits At New York Times: Departure Follows Comments That Roiled Scandal-Shaken Newsroom" by Howard Kurtz, The Washington Post, Thursday, May 29, 2003; Page C01.