The continuing story of the deadliest environmental disaster in the United States


About the authors

ANDREW SCHNEIDER lives in Seattle and continues to do in-depth investigative reporting, mostly on topics of national and international public health. He has worked for a variety of news organizations, including The Associated Press, Scripps Howard News Service, The Pittsburgh Press, St. Louis Post-Dispatch and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. He is the winner of numerous prizes, including two Pulitzers, a Society of Professional Journalists public service award, the George Polk Award and the National Headliner Award.



DAVID McCUMBER is editor of the Montana Standard in Butte, Montana. Formerly managing editor of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and Washington bureau chief for Hearst Newspapers, he has worked for several other newspapers, including the San Francisco Examiner and the Santa Barbara News-Press. A 1984 Pulitzer finalist for special local reporting at the Arizona Daily Star, he edited a Pulitzer-winning project there; he is a past winner of the Don Bolles Award for investigative journalism. McCumber’s books include The Cowboy Way: Seasons of a Montana Ranch, Playing off the Rail, and X-Rated: The Mitchell Brothers.


Praise for the earlier edition: “An Air That Kills”

“This book will make your blood boil. It will not reclaim the lives of innocent Americans who succumbed to asbestos poisoning, but in clear, compelling prose and unyielding facts it will serve as a potent antidote to a company that treated its workers and their families like lab rats. And it will introduce you to some heroes, including government bureaucrats, who did their job.”

— Ken Auletta

“Andrew Schneider and David McCumber have uncovered one of the greatest scandals of recent American history. The story of Libby, Montana, is a tragedy of greed and deceit. This book is a chilling reminder that a free press and government oversight are essential when American lives are at stake. I sincerely hope that this book will help convince the nation that we must ban asbestos once and for all.”

— Senator Patty Murray (D-Washington)

“A detailed and highly readable account of the asbestos industry’s poisoning of the people of Libby.”

— Rocky Mountain News

“A thorough inventory of the malignant neglect that permitted the scandal to go undetected for years.”

— The Washington Post

“[A] fast-paced tale.”

— The Spokesman-Review

“A compelling and frightening story … reminiscent of Erin Brockovich — at the center of the story, the authors have written a first-rate book about a contemporary American tragedy.”

— Publishers Weekly

“An Air That Kills is the story of the decades of larceny, death, and deceit waged by an American corporation in small-town America and of our government’s role in keeping those crimes secret and protected. The tale contains villains every bit as evil as any dressed up in fairy tales, and underdog heroes, too, whose only goal was to serve virtue and truth, and to perform their jobs with integrity: heroes in the medical profession and heroes within the government … Schneider and McCumber’s book wades into the town’s plight with respect and sensitivity, always mindful of the dignity of the victims…. [They] skillfully establish the major individuals in the story through detailed characterizations, and then gradually begin to work in the outrageous document analyses, in layperson’s terms, in which the lawyers and activists prove beyond a shadow of a doubt the chilling truths of who knew what and when: in government, in industry and, lastly and most tragically, in the community — the victims themselves … a book of highest service and integrity. Its message is brutal but integral to the lives and times of a nation facing great change, turmoil and, all too often, destruction from within.”

— St. Louis Post-Dispatch



The Enhanced Edition

In this edition designed for iPads and Macs, the author has included video, audio and dozens of photographs documenting the tragedy in Libby. You’ll also find source documents behind the reporting and an interactive glossary.




The ebook

This digital book is optimized for easy reading on the Kindle or any device’s Kindle app.




Find the newly updated book with the author’s source citations.