Submersion Journalism

Reporting in the Radical First Person from Harper’s Magazine
Edited by:

Fifteen sparkling works of inside-out reportage—Harper’s own house brand of “submersion journalism”—an unapologetically aggressive approach to reporting in an age of lies

“This collection . . . makes me want to bear hug and lavish sloppy kisses on everyone at Harper’s—for not only still believing in long-form literary journalism in the Age of Twitter, but for engaging in it with such wit and purposeful mischief and, well, a sense of adventure.” —Simon Dumenco, Advertising Age

“Submersion journalism” happens when a reporter dares to see a story from the inside: to participate in the events at hand, sometimes undercover, and then to tell the tale from a distinct point of view rather than pretend to some ideal of objectivity. During the Bush years, Harper’s correspondents infiltrated the Republican machine, from its lowliest canvassing operation to its corporate and evangelical elite, and they posed as shady clients for sleazy blue-chip lobbying firms. They shot machine guns, lounged in Vegas brothels, and peered into secret tunnels in Mexicali. They terrorized art museums and touched off worldwide fads.

Here are some of the best examples of participatory reporting published in the past decade, called “brilliant work” by the Los Angeles Times.


  • Charles Bowden
  • Adam Davidson
  • Barbara Ehrenreich
  • Steve Featherstone
  • Kristoffer A. Garin
  • Gary Greenberg
  • Roger D. Hodge
  • Jay Kirk
  • Willem Marx
  • Morgan Meis
  • Jeff Sharlet
  • Jake Silverstein
  • Ken Silverstein
  • Wells Tower
  • William T. Vollmann
  • Bill Wasik
  • Topics:


    “Proof of the indelible power of . . . detailed nonfiction storytelling.”
    Washington City Paper
    “Admirable. . . . The selections are tightly and sometimes masterfully written.”
    Austin Chronicle
    “A great anthology, chock full of fantastic articles.”
    “A terrific retrospective collection.”
    “It’s always exciting to see collections like these come out, if only for the fact that they highlight some of the best, most entertaining journalism ever written.”
    The Millions
    “An often-witty and engaging collection, proof positive that there are still reporters who prod, dig and poke. Not content to be embedded or press-release-driven, these journalists exemplify what it means to be intrepid investigators and inquisitors of power, whether personal or political.”
    The Indypendent
    “This collection should be read by any student who aspires to the true art of journalism, as well as anyone who wants to learn more about what really goes on in American politics—and society—today.”
    Library Journal
    “Although these are nonfiction contributions, they often read like literature.”
    The Brooklyn Rail

    Goodreads Reviews