ADDRESSES: Home—Philadelphia, PA. Agent—c/o Author Mail, HarperCollins, 10 East 53rd St., New York, NY 10022.
CAREER: Writer, journalist.
AWARDS, HONORS: Recipient of Women in Communications Award, Society of Professional Journalists Award, Penny Missouri Award, Columbia Graduate School of Journalism Award, and two Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Awards, for outstanding coverage of the problems of the disadvantaged.
Starving in the Shadow of Plenty, Putnam (New York, NY), 1981.
Engaged to Murder: The Inside Story of the Main Line Murders, Viking (New York, NY), 1987.
(With Mary Beth Whitehead) A Mother's Story: The Truth About the Baby M Case, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1989.
The Baby Swap Conspiracy: The Shocking Truth Behind the Florida Case of Two Babies Switched at Birth, Villard Books (New York, NY), 1993.
Forsaking All Others: The Real Betty Broderick Story, Villard Books (New York, NY), 1993.
Growing Up Empty: The Hunger Epidemic in America, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2002.
SIDELIGHTS: Loretta Schwartz-Nobel wrote award-winning articles on hunger during the 1970s and Starving in the Shadow of Plenty, her book-length study of the millions of Americans who lack adequate food. Library Journal's Mark Weber said that Schwartz-Nobel's interviews with the hungry poor and elderly "give the text a richness not found in more academic treatments."
Engaged to Murder: The Inside Story of the Main Line Murders is an account of the death of English teacher Susan Reinert. Reinert was found tortured and murdered in the trunk of her car on June 22, 1979, and her children, who had been with her, were never found. Arrested were William Bradfield, a coworker in the English department of the Upper Marion High School in suburban Philadelphia, and former principal Jay Smith. Bradfield, who was married and who had many affairs with teachers and students at the school, was the beneficiary of a life insurance policy for nearly $1 million taken out by Reinert. Smith, a man fascinated by sexual perversions and death, was serving time in jail for robbing a Sears store when he was charged with the Reinert murders.
The victim's body was moved and then cremated, the remaining evidence was circumstantial, and the case dragged on for seven years before Smith was convicted of committing the murder. Bradfield received three consecutive life sentences for commissioning it. Schwartz-Nobel interviewed Bradfield in prison for three years in writing her account. Dan Crawford wrote in Armchair Detective that "as a picture of the horror and confusion of a murder case, the book is superb. Also compelling is the study of William S. Bradfield, who quickly eclipses all other persons in the story."
Schwartz-Nobel wrote A Mother's Story: The Truth about the Baby M Case with Mary Beth Whitehead. Whitehead, a woman who had married in her teens and had two children, acted as a surrogate mother to a baby girl born in 1986, then changed her mind. The Sterns, a professional couple who had contracted for the baby, were given full custody, but in 1988, the State Supreme Court gave Whitehead visiting rights.
The Sterns, according to the contract, could have ended the arrangement if the fetus were judged to be abnormal in any way, but Whitehead was not given the choice of changing her mind. Josh Greenfeld wrote in the New York Times Book Review that Whitehead and Schwartz-Nobel "have produced a most moving book, often eloquent, and one certain to touch any of us who has ever felt a maternal pain or a paternal pang. For the arguments based upon the almost-divine right of contracts and on the worldly unfitness of Ms. Whitehead economically and behaviorally to be a parent—the twin bastions upon which the Sterns and their counsels build their case—are, in the first instance, petty and insensitive, and in the second, irrelevant and immaterial."
In The Baby Swap Conspiracy: The Shocking Truth Behind the Florida Case of Two Babies Switched at Birth Schwartz-Nobel maintains that the switch that took place in a Florida hospital in 1978 was not an accident, but planned by the hospital and a wealthy donor, whose daughter, Barbara Mays, took home the healthy baby. Schwartz-Nobel claims that Regina Twigg, that baby's actual mother, was given the Mays baby, born with a defective heart. Mays, who had been unable to bear children, was diagnosed with terminal cancer soon after the birth, and later died. When her natural child also died at age nine, the true biologies became apparent during testing and investigation.
In Forsaking All Others: The Real Betty Broderick Story, Schwartz-Nobel offers an account of the subject's crime. Broderick supported her husband, Dan, through medical and law school, bore him four children, then was cast aside when at forty, Dan dismissed his now-aging wife for Linda, his twenty- year-old secretary. He then took control of all of their assets and gained custody of the children. Broderick stalked her husband and his new wife. In 1989, she murdered them. The book contains monologues by Broderick, documented by Schwartz-Nobel, who spent time with her in prison where Broderick is serving thirty-two years to life, the sentence imposed as a result of her second trial. Her first trial, during which her attorneys made the case that Broderick's husband had psychologically harassed her, resulted in a hung jury. Robert Draper, who reviewed the book in the Los Angeles Times Book Review, wrote that it's "hard not to root for this woman who challenges her powerful attorney-husband in divorce court by representing herself, and showing up to trial in four-inch heels so the men in the courtroom can't look down on her."
In Growing Up Empty: The Hunger Epidemic in America, Schwartz-Nobel shows that the number of underfed people since the writing of her first book on the subject has increased by six million. Here she names the groups who suffer most, in urban and rural areas, where she visits the homeless, the poor and the working poor. In the suburbs, the author talked to previously affluent women who, after divorce, receive so little support that they cannot afford food. Some go to extreme measures, like the former wife of a doctor who steals from her synagogue to feed her children. Schwartz-Nobel interviewed some of the thirty-six million, one third of them children under twelve, who go hungry in America. She notes that the large increase in numbers of food relief organizations have not offset the welfare reform, government cutbacks and the tendency of workers to go from the welfare roles to poverty-level jobs that offer no health insurance and prevent them from accessing food programs. A Publishers Weekly contributor wrote, "Shocking, informative, and often devastating, this is a vital report on the politics of hunger and the silent Americans who are its victims." In Mother Jones contributor Lynnell Hancock commented that "this is a book meant to stir outrage, and it is written from the heart."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Armchair Detective, winter, 1988, Dan Crawford, review of Engaged to Murder: The Inside Story of the Main Line Murders, p. 97.
Booklist, March 1, 1993, Denise Perry Donavin, review of The Baby Swap Conspiracy: The Shocking Truth behind the Florida Case of Two Babies Switched at Birth, p. 1141.
Christian Science Monitor, November 20, 2002, Marilyn Gardner, review of Growing Up Empty: The Hunger Epidemic in America.
Commonweal, June 16, 1989, Eileen P. Flynn, review of A Mother's Story: The Truth about the Baby M Case, pp. 373-374.
Kirkus Reviews, July 1, 1981, review of Starving in the Shadow of Plenty, p. 863; January 1, 1993, review of The Baby Swap Conspiracy, p. 51; September 1, 2002, review of Growing Up Empty, p. 1289.
Library Journal, August, 1981, Mark Weber, review of Starving in the Shadow of Plenty, pp. 1522-1523; February 1, 1993, Belinda Pugh, review of The Baby Swap Conspiracy, p. 98; April 1, 1993, Belinda Pugh, review of Forsaking All Others: The Real Betty Broderick Story, p. 116; October 15, 2002, Suzanne W. Wood, review of Growing Up Empty, p. 87.
Los Angeles Times Book Review, August 8, 1993, Robert Draper, review of Forsaking All Others, pp. 4, 9.
Mother Jones, November-December, 2002, Lynnell Hancock, review of Growing Up Empty.
National Catholic Reporter, March 14, 2003, C. Lincoln Johnson, review of Growing Up Empty, p. 20.
New York Times Book Review, March 1, 1987, Lucinda Franks, review of Engaged to Murder, p. 12; March 12, 1989, Josh Greenfeld, review of A Mother's Story, p. 14; January 28, 1990, George Johnson, review of A Mother's Story, p. 34; April 11, 1993, Diane Cole, review of The Baby Swap Conspiracy, p. 29.
Publishers Weekly, January 13, 1989, review of A Mother's Story, p. 83; September 9, 2002, review of Growing Up Empty, p. 50.
Time, February 23, 1987, R. Z. Sheppard, review of Engaged to Murder, p. 75.
Washington Post Book World, March 22, 1987, John Katzenbach, review of Engaged to Murder, p. 8.
Houston Chronicle, http://www.chron.com/ (January 10, 2003), Kate Shatzkin, review of Growing Up Empty.
Philadelphia Weekly, http://www.philaweekly.com/ (April 16, 2003), Katie Haegele, review of Growing Up Empty.*