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Tarnished: The True Cost of Gold

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The cover of Pulitzer Center's newest e-book, "Tarnished: the True Cost of Gold." Image by Larry C. Price. Burkina Faso, 2013.

Over the past four years, as the price of gold surged and fell, the Pulitzer Center has commissioned eight projects on what the boom has meant for the local communities involved. The reporting covers the globe and the stories that resulted have appeared on our website and in major media outlets, from The New York Times and PBS NewsHour to Harper’s, The Philadelphia Inquirer and TIME. Now we are pleased to present in e-book form a sampler from that work, organized by key themes and drawing on the writing, photographs, and video that have made this journalism so compelling.

“Tarnished” takes you behind the scenes to show how that glittering piece of jewelry came to be, in settings far removed from Madison Avenue or Rodeo Drive or your local mall. You’ll witness Peruvian miners using their bare feet to mix toxic mercury into barrels of gold-bearing sediment. You’ll see the gnarled hands and callused feet of boy miners, old before their time in Burkina Faso. You’ll experience what it’s like, in the forests of Panama or along the coast in Turkey, to choose between desperately needed jobs and the protection of land and traditional cultures that could be lost forever.

Some of these stories are harrowing and sad but there is also much that inspires—from two feisty women mayors in small-town Bulgaria taking on multinational mining companies to the spread of fair-trade mining in southern Peru and growing support for the efforts of groups like the International Labour Organization to develop standards and get them enforced. We hope the readers of “Tarnished” will come away with the realization that when it comes to gold everyone of us is involved, as consumers and citizens. Whether this unique resource is produced in a way that is fair to all is very much up to us.

The reporting behind “Tarnished” was made possible by support from the Wallace Global Fund, the Kendeda Fund, Humanity United, and individual donors. The e-book was edited by Kem Knapp Sawyer and designed by Meghan Dhaliwal. The Pulitzer Center’s series of e-books are intended to take our journalism to new audiences, in the educational community and beyond. We also hope to generate new sources of income for the journalists who do the work that makes possible projects like “Tarnished.”

The book will be released February 19 on iTunes. The price after March 7 will be $9.99. All proceeds go directly to the eleven journalists whose work is featured: Ben Depp, Nadja Drost, Mellissa Fung, Dimiter Kenarov, Jacob Kushner, Narayan Mahon, Larry C. Price, Jane Regan, Damon Tabor, Steve Sapienza and Nadia Shira Cohen.

Available from Amazon and iTunes .

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