|Digging Deep into the American Heart of Darkness
Judy Pasternak is an award-winning investigative reporter and author whose
celebrated book, Yellow Dirt, tells the story of Navajo uranium miners and
their families, and exposes the government and industry negligence that
exposed them to deadly toxics and radiation.
Yellow Dirt was named one of the best books of 2010 by both The Christian
Science Monitor and Publishers Weekly. The Washington Post called it “eyeopening
and riveting,” adding, “while Pasternak cites a wide array of
specialists in fields ranging from geology to nuclear physics, the story
unfolds like true crime, where real-life heroes and villains play dynamic roles
in a drama that escalates page by page.
Yellow Dirt gives a sobering glimpse into our atomic past and adds a critical voice to the debate about
resurrecting America’s nuclear industry.”
Washington Monthly notes “As newspaper and magazine budgets for ambitious, deeply researched, morally
alert reporting like Pasternak’s continue to dwindle, we should celebrate the examples we have. Pasternak has
done so much to uncover and weave together such a compelling indictment of governmental neglect. She
implicitly contrasts the speed and effectiveness with which the U.S. can mobilize its resources to address an
issue deemed to be a national priority, with the bureaucratic inertia and delay that too often characterize
government on behalf of our society’s least powerful members.”
Booklist calls Pasternak’s work “a stunning look at a shameful chapter in American history with long-lasting
implications for all Americans concerned with environmental justice.”
According to The Los Angeles Times, “Pasternak’s scarifying account of uranium mining’s disastrous
consequences... does justice to the ethical and historical ambiguities while crafting a narrative of exemplary
The book expands on a series she wrote for the Los Angeles Times that led to a Congressional hearing and a
five-year federal cleanup plan for the nation’s largest tribal homeland, which covers parts of Arizona, Utah and
Pasternak has written extensively about energy and the environment for the Times, where she spent 24 years as
an enterprise and investigative reporter, and for AOL News and the Investigative Reporting Workshop, among
others. Her insightful topics include the history of uranium and the Navajos, energy industry lobbying, the pros
and cons of various forms of energy, the current uranium boom, and conducting research across cultures.
She lives in Washington, D.C. with her family.