Married; children: one daughter. Education: Graduate of Hampshire College.
Journalist and author. Reporter for newspapers in Texas, Arkansas, and Arizona, and for the Orange County Register in Southern California.
Pulitzer Prize for beat reporting, 1989; "Best Book of the Year," Investigative Reporters and Editors of America, 1996, for No Matter How Loud I Shout: A Year in the Life of Juvenile Court; PEN Center USA Award for Nonfiction, 1997; finalist for an Edgar Allan Poe Award from the Mystery Writers of America.
Buried Secrets: A True Story of Serial Murder, Black Magic, and Drug-Running on the U.S. Border, Dutton (New York, NY), 1991.
Murderer with a Badge: The Secret Life of a Rogue Cop, Dutton (New York, NY), 1992.
Mississippi Mud: A True Story from a Corner of the Deep South, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1994.
No Matter How Loud I Shout: A Year in the Life of Juvenile Court, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1996.
Mean Justice: A Town's Terror, a Prosecutor's Power, a Betrayal of Innocence, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1999.
Baby ER: The Heroic Doctors and Nurses Who Perform Medicine's Tiniest Miracles, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2000.
School of Dreams: Making the Grade at a Top American High School, Harcourt (Orlando, FL), 2003.
Over Here: How the G.I. Bill Transformed the American Dream, Harcourt (Orlando, FL), 2006.
Monkey Girl: Evolution, Education, Religion, and the Battle for America's Soul, Ecco (New York, NY), 2007.
True crime is the beat of Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author Edward Humes. His books include a look at ritualistic murders committed by a black-magic cult (Buried Secrets: A True Story of Serial Murder, Black Magic, and Drug-Running on the U.S. Border), the secret life of an otherwise mild-mannered traffic officer who arranged three contract killings (Murderer with a Badge: The Secret Life of a Rogue Cop), and the mystery surrounding the shooting deaths of a leading couple in Biloxi, Mississippi (Mississippi Mud: A True Story from a Corner of the Deep South).
Mississippi Mud follows the quest of a murdered couple's adult daughter to investigate the crime. The city of Biloxi is described by a Kirkus Reviews critic as one "of both graceful antebellum mansions and a sleazy zone of strip joints, whorehouses, casinos and drug dens." Into this environment came Vince and Margaret Sherry, whose professions (he was a circuit-court judge, she an anti-corruption mayoral candidate) tangled with the so-called Dixie Mafia; they had both received death threats. The threats came to pass in September 1987, when the couple was discovered shot to death in their home. But even with overwhelming evidence of a Dixie Mafia hit, Biloxi police "pursued the bizarre theory that the Sherry's son Eric had murdered his parents in a rage after discovering that he was adopted," according to the Kirkus Reviews critic. In detailing the events leading to the murders, Humes "has wisely focused on [daughter Lynne Sherry Sposito's] tenacious refusal to let the investigation sink beneath the muddy swirl of graft," wrote New York Times Book Review contributor Margaret Maron. Maron goes on to commend Humes for his "lucid and unadorned prose" that "admirably suits this complex story of venality and betrayal."
No Matter How Loud I Shout: A Year in the Life of Juvenile Court is an investigation into the juvenile-justice system in Los Angeles, California, "which is about a step away from collapsing," observed Washington Monthly writer Patricia Cohen. Following a three-year study during which he also taught writing classes at a juvenile hall, Humes profiled the cases of five children arrested for crimes ranging from gang warfare to murder. One subject, a fifteen-year-old from a middle-class home, shot dead his employers for pocket money. He was arrested but, because the boy was nine days short of his sixteenth birthday, the longest sentence he could receive was eight years: "he will be set free at [age] twenty-five no matter what," Cohen pointed out. But another youth, age sixteen when he was forced to act as accomplice during a botched robbery, could have faced life in prison with no parole, even though he did not fire a gun. Cohen described the characters in No Matter How Loud I Shout as reminiscent of a Michael Crichton thriller, from the dedicated prosecutor to the streetwise probation officer. "The supporting cast is rounded out by an army of incompetent and insensitive bureaucrats, lawyers, and judges working in an under-funded and overwhelmed system."
Mean Justice: A Town's Terror, a Prosecutor's Power, a Betrayal of Innocence shows what happens when a city's quest for "justice served" contradicts the facts of the case. In Bakersfield, California, Patrick Dunn was arrested on suspicion of the murder of his wife, Sandy. The city of Bakersfield, Humes points out, has a history of collaring innocent people to stand trial in high-profile cases (including the investigation of a child-molestation ring, in which each of the fifty-six adults charged was eventually cleared). In the Dunn case, the county sheriff and the district attorney "built a flimsy case against [Patrick], ultimately concocting false information to convict him," noted Michael Sawyer, writing in the Library Journal. Mean Justice, Sawyer continued, "hammers home the difficulty of proving one's innocence after being wrongly convicted."
In Baby ER: The Heroic Doctors and Nurses Who Perform Medicine's Tiniest Miracles, Humes writes about the year he spent visiting the neonatal intensive care unit at Miller Children's Hospital in Long Beach, California. During this time, he observed eleven critically ill premature babies, seven of whom lived. He details the dedication and skill of the doctors and of the nurses (most of whom are underpaid for the long hours they put in) in caring for these babies. Humes describes the relationships between the parents and the health professionals, the technological advances that allow the doctors to perform complicated surgery on many of the babies, and the reasons for the rise in premature births.
School of Dreams: Making the Grade at a Top American High School tells the story of how performance anxiety changed youth at the prestigious Whitney High School in Los Angeles. In the time he spent watching students at Whitney, Humes found that, while the school delivered results in the form of grades, it also demanded a heavy price from students. "School of Dreams is a book that opens a door into the best of what the future has to offer, yet Humes paints us a real picture of a distinguished school where young people and their teachers struggle daily with classroom learning under pressure," Maureen McMahon and Gwen Kaven concluded in Issues in Teacher Education. "In the end, there are many successes. As educators there is much we can learn from schools such as Whitney, and Humes offers us the first step in beginning to understand the complexities of this home for learning—especially excellent science learning."
"I'm proud to have School of Dreams published," Humes declared in an essay published on his Web site, edwardhumes.com, "a journey inside new terrain as well, the always vital and frequently astonishing world of our education system. I spent a year immersed within California's top public high school, a place of high achievement and high stress, where a culture of high expectations has attracted families from around the world to its modest campus, but where the pressure to succeed can take a heavy toll." "Although the author generally eschews analysis, he identifies key components of a successful education and looks critically at the toll that competitive college admissions and standardized testing take on life and learning," Bryan Garman wrote in Science. "The vastness of the subject prevents Humes from exploring certain topics as fully as he might, but his narrative is evocative, insightful, and sensitive." The author, wrote Vanessa Bush in Booklist, "captures the angst and yearning of highschool students who want to achieve … but who have a vague sense that they're missing out."
In Over Here: How the G.I. Bill Transformed the American Dream, Humes traces the history of one of the great socially transformative pieces of legislation of the twentieth century. In 1944, the U.S. Congress passed the Servicemen's Readjustment Act, intended to help soldiers returning from World War II to reenter society. The act, wrote a Kirkus Reviews contributor, "offer[ed] vets unemployment compensation and job-placement services, low-interest mortgages requiring no down payment and four fully paid years of college or vocational training." The result was a transformation of American society: at the end of the war, thousands of Americans who could not have aspired to good-paying jobs, advancement through college education, and owning their own homes were able to realize the American Dream. "Humes argues that postwar expansions of suburbia, universities, science, and the arts," Gilbert Taylor declared in Booklist, "are all consequences of the GI Bill."
Humes traces a modern sequel to the famous Scopes Monkey Trial of 1925 in Monkey Girl: Evolution, Education, Religion, and the Battle for America's Soul. The case of Kitzmiller v. Dover centered on the struggle by the school board of Dover, Pennsylvania, to introduce the concept of "intelligent design" into the classroom in place of Darwinian evolutionary theory. "Fundamentalist ministers and parents," wrote a Kirkus Reviews contributor, sought to expunge evolution from school texts in favor of a form of creationism "or anything else asserting that God created the earth 6,000 years ago and humankind has always existed in its present form." In 2005 Judge John Jones passed down his decision, stating that intelligent design was not, in fact, "a science," Kendrick Frazier concluded in the Skeptical Inquirer, "and the teaching of it in schools [was] a clear violation of the Constitution."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, March 15, 1996, Kathleen Hughes, review of No Matter How Loud I Shout: A Year in the Life of Juvenile Court, p. 1224; February 1, 1999, review of Mean Justice: A Town's Terror, a Prosecutor's Power, a Betrayal of Innocence, p. 948; November 15, 2000, William Beatty, review of Baby ER: The Heroic Doctors and Nurses Who Perform Medicine's Tiniest Miracles, p. 597; September 1, 2003, Vanessa Bush, review of School of Dreams: Making the Grade at a Top American High School, p. 29; January 1, 2004, review of School of Dreams, p. 778; August 1, 2006, Gilbert Taylor, review of Over Here: How the G.I. Bill Transformed the American Dream, p. 16; January 1, 2007, Ray Olson, review of Monkey Girl: Evolution, Education, Religion, and the Battle for America's Soul, p. 25.
Choice, April 1, 2004, G.E. Pawals, review of School of Dreams, p. 1524.
Contemporary Sociology, September 1, 2004, Edward Humes, review of School of Dreams, p. 624.
Economist, May 18, 1996, review of No Matter How Loud I Shout, p. S3.
Education Digest, October 1, 2003, Dudley Barlow, review of School of Dreams, p. 77.
Issues in Teacher Education, spring, 2005, Maureen McMahon, review of School of Dreams.
Kirkus Reviews, January 1, 1996, review of No Matter How Loud I Shout, p. 43; July 15, 2006, review of Over Here, p. 711; December 1, 2006, review of Monkey Girl, p. 1207.
Library Journal, February 1, 1999, Michael Sawyer, review of Mean Justice, p. 108; December 1, 1990, Sandra K. Lindheimer, review of Buried Secrets: A True Story of Serial Murder, Black Magic, and Drug-Running on the U.S. Border, p. 140; October 1, 1992, Jim Burns, review of Murderer with a Badge: The Secret Life of a Rogue Cop, p. 105; September 15, 2006, Michael C. Miller, review of Over Here, p. 72.
Los Angeles Times Book Review, April 28, 1991, "Buried Secrets," p. 7.
New York Times Book Review, February 7, 1993, Dennis J. Carroll, review of Murderer with a Badge, p. 22; October 16, 1994, Margaret Maron, review of Mississippi Mud: A True Story from a Corner of the Deep South, p. 21; May 9, 1999, "Mean Justice: A Town's Terror, a Prosecutor's Power, a Betrayal of Innocence," p. 41; December 10, 2000, Frank T. Vertosick, Jr., review of Baby ER, p. 28.
Publishers Weekly, December 14, 1990, Genevieve Stuttaford, review of Buried Secrets, p. 57; October 5, 1992, review of Murderer with a Badge, p. 61; November 8, 1993, review of Murderer with a Badge, p. 73; July 11, 1994, "Mississippi Mud: Southern Justice and the Dixie Mafia," p. 70; October 16, 2000, review of Baby ER, p. 60; July 14, 2003, review of School of Dreams, p. 66; June 12, 2006, review of Over Here, p. 39.
Reference & Research Book News, November 1, 2003, review of School of Dreams, p. 206; February 1, 2007, review of Over Here; May 1, 2007, review of Monkey Girl.
Skeptical Inquirer, May 1, 2007, Kendrick Frazier, review of Monkey Girl, p. 62.
Washington Monthly, March, 1996, Patricia Cohen, review of No Matter How Loud I Shout, p. 58.
Edward Humes Home Page,http://www.edwardhumes.com (September 9, 2007).