Since leaving the Dallas Observer a few years back, former staff writer Adam Pitluk has graduated from the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism, turned one of the articles he wrote here into a book, been the features editor for Boys’ Life magazine and landed a teaching spot at the University of Texas at Arlington. He also writes for Time, is an editor at Southwest Airline’s Spirit magazine and has just finished his second book. The dude don’t sleep.
His latest book, Damned to Eternity: The Story of the Man Who They Say Caused the Flood, began with an article Pitluk wrote in 1998 as a student-reporter with the Columbia Missourian and a subsequent cover story he wrote for The Riverfront Times, a St. Louis paper in the Village Voice Media chain, which also owns the paper version of Unfair Park.
Damned to Eternity, due in stores in two weeks, is the story of James Scott, a 24-year-old fast food employee who was assisting in relief efforts along the Mississippi River when a levee on which he was working broke. Authorities claimed he destroyed the levee on purpose in order to go drinking with his friends on one side of the ensuing flood and strand his wife on the other. The flood ruined more than 14,000 acres of farmland and impacted more than 30,000 people.
Scott was subsequently convicted of Intentionally Causing a Catastrophe, a Class A felony, and sentenced to life in prison. He will not be eligible for parole until 2023.
Scott maintains his innocence. The book’s central question is whether he knowingly caused the flood or if he was the victim of overzealous prosecutors. No less an authority than Mike Sager, an Esquire writer-at-large, calls the book “a gripping read.” (Pitluk also wrote about Scott in June for The Huffington Post.)
Nice work, Pitluk. Now get some sleep. --Jesse Hyde
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