Geographic Connection to Pennsylvania: DuBois, Clearfield County
Barlett is the co-author of the 1975 Pulitzer Prize winner in National Reporting for the series “Auditing the Internal Revenue Service.”
Awards: Pulitzer Prize
Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Donald Barlett was born in DuBois in 1936. Educated at Pennsylvania State University and later in the U.S. Army, Barlett became a journalist and, after a string of jobs at smaller papers, moved to Philadelphia. At the Inquirer he was teamed with James B. Steele. The combination would win two Pulitzer Prizes for National Reporting. Barlett continues to reside in Philadelphia.
Donald Barlett was born in DuBois, Pennsylvania, on July 17, 1936, and grew up in Johnstown. His parents were James and Mary Barlett. Donald Barlett married Shirley A. Jones, a nurse, and has one son, Matthew.
Barlett attended the Pennsylvania State University between the years 1954-1955. He later served as a counterintelligence agent for the U.S. Army from 1958-1961. After that time, he devoted his life to becoming a journalist. Barlett began writing for the Knight newspaper chain, which supported his goal to write enterprise articles. He began with the Reading Times, and moved through a series of appointments in Akron, Cleveland, and Chicago, before taking a job in Philadelphia with the Inquirer. Since the early 1970s, Barlett has written news articles with partner James Steele. The pair were renowned for their credible reporting and their choices in story topics.
After a few months working for the Philadelphia Inquirer, Barlett and Steele investigated the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) for fraud in a subsidy program for rehabilitating and selling lower income housing. Barlett and Steele published their findings in a documented series of articles. Their research won them many awards. The two men went on to uncover covert operations throughout criminal courts, tax law enforcement, the U.S. government, and the U.S. Foreign Aid Program. In 1975 and in 1989, Barlett and Steele won the Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting with a series of exposés on the Internal Revenue Service and the Tax Reform Act of 1986, respectively.
Through researching these political issues, Barlett became fascinated with Howard Hughes and his relations with the U.S. government. With his partner, Steele, Barlett co-authored Empire: The Life, Legend and Madness of Howard Hughes (1979). The critics loved the book and praised the two for their effort, stating that it was the best biography of Hughes to date. After the publication of this book, the pair were known for their style of documentation and went on to co-write other books, such as Forevermore: Nuclear Waste in America, in 1985, and America: What Went Wrong? in 1992.
In 1997, Barlett and Steele left the Philadelphia Inquirer to become editors-at-large for Time. In addition to their Pulitzer Prizes, Barlett and Steele have won two National Magazine Awards. At the time of this writing, Barlett lives in Philadelphia.
Empire: The Life, Legend, and Madness of Howard Hughes. (with James B. Steele) New York: Norton, 1979.
Forevermore: Nuclear Waste in America. (with James B. Steele) New York: Norton, 1985.
America: What Went Wrong? (with James B. Steele)Kansas City: Andrews & McMeel, 1992.
America: Who Really Pays the Taxes? (with James B. Steele)New York: Simon & Schuster, 1994.
The Great American Tax Dodge: How Spiraling Fraud and Avoidance Are Killing Fairness, Destroying the Income Tax, and Costing You. (with James B. Steele) Boston: Little, Brown, 2000.
Critical Condition: How Health Care in America Became Big Business—And Bad Medicine. (with James B. Steele) New York: Doubleday, 2004.
“Donald (Leon) Barlett. ” The Gale Literary Database: Contemporary Authors Online. 6 Dec. 2000. 28 Sept. 2011.