Jaspin, Elliot

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Jaspin, Elliot




Home—Annapolis, MD. Office—Cox Newspapers, Washington Bureau, 400 N. Capitol St. NW, Ste. 750, Washington, DC 20001-1536.


Philadelphia Daily News, Philadelphia, PA, former reporter; Providence Journal-Bulletin, Providence, RI, former reporter; University of Missouri, former director of Missouri Institute for Computer-Assisted Reporting and associate professor of journalism; Cox Newspapers, Washington, DC, currently system editor and journalist; has also been a reporter for the Pottsville Republican. Fellow, Gannett Center for Media Studies, Columbia University, 1988-89.


Pulitzer Prize (with Gilbert M. Gaul), 1979, for local investigative specialized reporting for the Pottsville Republican; Kiplinger Distinguished Contributions to Journalism Award, National Press Foundation, 1993.


(Editor) Hans G. Egli, Jim Thorpe, Formerly, Mauch Chunk: Guide/History, H. Egli (Jim Thorpe, PA), 1977.

Buried in the Bitter Waters: The Hidden History of Racial Cleansing in America, Basic Books (New York, NY), 2007.


Buried in the Bitter Waters has been adapted as an audiobook, HighBridge Audio.


Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Elliot Jaspin is a specialist in computer-assisted reporting. He has been an assistant professor of journalism at the University of Missouri, where he established the first computer-assisted reporting program in the United States. The program was designed to train both students and practicing professional journalists how to better use computer-based resources to enhance their reporting and writing.

Jaspin is also a historian of racial issues in the United States. In Buried in the Bitter Waters: The Hidden History of Racial Cleansing in America, he examines twelve individual cases—covering 1864 through 1923 and occurring in eight different states—in which blacks were deliberately and systematically forced from their homes and out of a county. Jaspin uses the controversial term "racial cleansing" to denote the efforts of white Americans to "cleanse" their "living and working spaces to make them white-only enclaves," related Thomas J. Davis in Library Journal. Jaspin reports that although some of these cases involved violence, lynching, and riots, others were entirely nonviolent, the end result accomplished through fear and intimidation. Whites would simply deliver an ultimatum to blacks and their families: be out of town by a certain time, or violence may occur. Outnumbered and overwhelmed, black families had little choice but to comply. Jaspin recounts how mobs and vigilantes functioned within this context of racial cleansing, but he also makes it plain that whites in all aspects of their lives worked to exclude blacks from their towns. In some cases, entire black communities were disrupted and forced to flee. Jaspin also points out that not all the states in which racial cleansing occurred were in the South. Using historical recreations and featuring interviews with individuals who still remember the events, Jaspin identifies 260 towns in which blacks faced hostile whites determined to drive them away. Critics might dispute some of the author's conclusions about the "whites' motives, but Jaspin's facts are dauntingly indisputable," Davis observed.

"Jaspin's harrowing and exhaustively researched history of racial cleansing in the United States is painfully eye-opening," remarked a Publishers Weekly reviewer. Booklist critic Vanessa Bush called Jaspin's historical account a "chilling portrait of a shameful part of American history that has reshaped its racial geography."



Booklist, March 15, 2007, Vanessa Bush, review of Buried in the Bitter Waters: The Hidden History of Racial Cleansing in America, p. 8.

Book World, April 8, 2007, Kevin Boyle, "Ethnic Cleansing, American Style," review of Buried in the Bitter Waters, p. 2.

Library Journal, March 15, 2007, Thomas J. Davis, review of Buried in the Bitter Waters, p. 81.

Publishers Weekly, April 30, 2007, audiobook review of Buried in the Bitter Waters, p. 156.

Reference & Research Book News, May, 2007, review of Buried in the Bitter Waters.


Basic Books Web site,http://www.perseusbooksgroup.com/ (October 10, 2007), biography of Elliot Jaspin.

Cox Washington Web site,http://www.coxwashington.com/ (October 10, 2007), biography of Elliot Jaspin.

Creative Loafing,http://www.creativeloafing.com/ (March 7, 2007), John F. Sugg, "Whitewashed! Elliot Jaspin's Book Is the Last Thing the AJC's Editors Want You to Read," review of Buried in the Bitter Waters.

History News Network, April 2, 2007, Rick Shenkman, interview with Elliot Jaspin.