mark hertsgaard

Independent Journalist & Author


I Got Shot in New Orleans

I was attending a “second line” street parade in New Orleans on Mother’s Day when pistol shots rang out just a few feet behind me and the crowd quickly scattered. The shootings sent 20 people to the hospital. I was lucky: I only got shot in the leg, and since the bullet miraculously didn’t hit any arteries, veins, nerves or bone, the doctor decided to leave it in there. Alas, another journalist, Deborah Cotton of the local weekly paper, “The Gambit,” was much more seriously wounded, eventually losing a kidney in surgery. But I refuse to allow this deplorable incident to turn me against the magical, essential city of New Orleans. And, as I argue in this piece for The Nation, you shouldn’t make that mistake either. America needs a New Orleans that works…. Read more


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The BP Oil Spill Cover-up

On the third anniversary of the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster, Newsweek (and equivalent publications overseas) releases my investigative expose of how BP covered up the full extent of its crimes. Never-before-published information reveals that BP knowingly sacrificed the health of clean-up workers, coastal residents and the Gulf ecosystem for its public relations goal of making the oil spill disappear, at least from the world’s TV screens:… Read more

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Climate Lessons of “The Year Without Summer”

My review of the new book, The Year Without Summer, explores the lessons offered by the extraordinary developments of 1816, when a massive volcano spewed enough sunlight-blocking detritus into the sky to plunge much of the Northern Hemisphere into chilly darkness:… Read more

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The New Yorker and Climate Adaptation

A recent article in The New Yorker about how New York City can better prepare for climate change in the wake of Hurricane Sandy made some useful observations but unfortunately missed most of the larger point, I argue in this Letter to the Editor:… Read more



Climate Activists Demand More in Obama’s Second Term

With climate change arriving sooner and nastier than even the most worried scientists had projected, activists in the US will be pressing Obama harder than ever to show real leadership. Two big demonstrations planned for the Spring in Washington, D.C., will frame 100 days of action. Read more in this special issue of The Nation about Obama’s second term:… Read more


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Ignoring the (Winning) US Climate Movement

Why do so many people, including those who should know better, talk and write as if there is no mass movement against climate change in the United States? A movement that, by the way, has won major victories in the past few years? Hint: Inside-the-Beltway tunnel vision does not affect only the mainstream political class. Read more in Grist:… Read more


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Latest Book


By now, almost everyone knows what Edward Snowden did: leak top secret documents revealing that the US government was spying on hundreds of millions of people around the world. But if you want to know why Snowden did it, the way he did it, you need to know the stories of two other men.

The first is Thomas Drake, who blew the whistle on the very same surveillance ten years before Snowden did and got crushed. The other is The Third Man, a former senior Pentagon official who comes forward in this book for the first time to describe how his superiors repeatedly broke the law to punish Drakeā€”and unwittingly taught Snowden how to evade their clutches.

Pick up your copy at: | Barnes & Noble

About Mark

Independent journalist Mark Hertsgaard is the author of seven books that have been translated into sixteen languages, including Bravehearts: Whistle Blowing in the Age of Snowden; HOT: Living Through the Next Fifty Years on Earth; and A Day in the Life: The Music and Artistry of the Beatles. He has reported from twenty-five countries about politics, culture and the environment for leading outlets, including The Guardian, Der Spiegel, Vanity Fair, The New Yorker, Time, Mother Jones, NPR, the BBC and The Nation, where is the environment correspondent. He lives in San Francisco.