Stories from The Times
“THE MORGUE” IS AN OLD NEWSPAPER TERM that to journalists of a certain age refers to the mildew-scented repository of dead stories — the clip files. Today it’s more likely to be called the editorial library. Of course, in the electronic age there’s no longer a place for actual paper clippings. But progress has advantages. Stories are no longer logged away in those musty drawers and lost to easy access. Here’s a digital sampling of timeless stories from the author’s byline collection, retrieved from the printed pages of the L.A. Times:
RACING TO AMERICA — One rust-bucket of an old ship and its passenger manifest filled with “undesirable aliens” defies a stormy Atlantic and swelling anti-immigrant sentiment in the U.S. to beat out richer and more acceptable migrants in the great Quota Race of 1923. It’s a time much like today with raging debate against foreigners and the political forces trying to stem their influx. Among those 1920s “undesirables” are displaced Eastern Europeans, Armenians, Greeks, Russians, Jews, pacifist Mennonites…and the author’s family.
IRANIAN SPIES, ASSASSINS — He was Iran’s prime minister when the Islamic revolution forced him from office and into exile in Paris. For the next decade Shapour Bakhtiar uses France as his sanctuary and platform from which to wage a public relations war against religious hardliners. His brutal murder by Iranian government assassins exposes a network of spies and assassins deployed against Tehran’s critics around the world. A story based on rare access to French investigative reports may also help explain some of the West’s continuing distrust of Tehran’s regime.
TERROR IN NEW YORK CITY — After a devastating terrorist blast, how do federal bomb investigators piece together bits and fragments of seemingly worthless rubble to find markers that identify who did it? The author gains special access to the crack ATF forensics team that had swiftly unraveled just such a mystery — the deadly World Trade Center bombing of 1993.
ARIZONA PRISON BREAK — Three kids break their father out of the state penitentiary in hopes of staging a family reunion across the border in Mexico. Their audacious plot is carried out in broad daylight without firing a shot and no one gets hurt. Not at first. Could this true crime story be the stuff of legends? The author explores the dark side of family love and loyalty in exclusive interviews with the boys’ mother.