Considering the many noble accomplishments of early American culture, Burns observes, the levels of vulgarity and partisanship in colonial newspapers should strike modern readers as shocking. Given the ideological jousting taking place on talk radio and in the blogosphere today, he may be overstating the case, and at times the condemnation feels as if it's laid on a bit thick, but Burns's historical examples of journalistic excess—rabid language, character assassination, even outright fabrication—never bore. From the sniping feuds among Boston's first papers to sex scandals involving Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson, the snappy patter gives clear indication of how much Burns, a Fox News anchor and accomplished historian (The Spirits of America), relishes telling his story. With so much attention on the Founding Fathers in recent years, many sections, like those on Ben Franklin's early publishing career and the intense rivalry between Jefferson and Hamilton, each of whom underwrote a paper to propagate his point of view, will be familiar. For every recognizable anecdote, however, Burns weaves in fresh elements like the vicious feud between publisher James Franklin (Ben's older brother) and Cotton Mather over smallpox inoculation, keeping the entertainment levels high. (Mar.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Grievances against journalists are as old as America--Burns' title is lifted from an epistolary lamentation by none other than George Washington. Most of the founders found themselves on the receiving end of printers who reveled in calumny and condemnation and made no pretense of impartiality. Burns' chronological narrative spans the century between what is regarded as the first newspaper in America, Publick Occurrences of 1690s Boston, and the partisan papers of Thomas Jefferson's presidency. Burns, a broadcast journalist, adopts a flowing, anecdote-laden style infused with bemusement toward the period's reportorial practices. These included outright fabrication, lightly so, as in Benjamin Franklin's occasional inventions in print, or more seriously, as in fulminations against the British by patriot Samuel Adams. Come the Revolution, Burns notes that most papers went under due to a paper shortage; after the War of Independence, they reappeared with vigor and invective. Excerpting extensively from the newspapers under discussion, Burns has produced a spry history of early American journalism. Gilbert Taylor
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
An awesome book showing the true power of the press and mans ability to manipulate it to a certain end!Published 10 days ago by David
no fault on service, however book did not meet my expectations, a bit redundantPublished 5 months ago by Robin K. La Rue
Readable, illuminating narrative. No matter how bad or biased you might think journalism is today, current shortcomings pale by comparison with what Burns documents. Read morePublished 17 months ago by Kenneth Umbach
This is a fantastic book that shows, in great detail, the knock down drag out war between the Republicans and the Federalists that was fought by proxy in the press. Read morePublished 18 months ago by Randy
Much needed history of the press, and the men behind the newspapers, in the formative years of the Republic. They were as important as the Founding Fathers.Published on July 30, 2013 by Kathleen M. Dervin
This is an eye opener for anyone who looks back on history and assumes things were done more honorably, more civilly, and with more integrity than they are now. Read morePublished on July 15, 2013 by M. Howells
This book explains the history of Journalism since the beginning of the new Americas. This book is a good read to understand the history from word of mouth to the printed word.Published on February 3, 2013 by Amazon Customer
I happened to see this book while on vacation; we were killing time in a beautiful atheneum in St. Johnsbury, VT waiting for the start of a movie we wanted to see down the street. Read morePublished on January 30, 2013 by Pamela Munton
The book is a readable account of the beginnings of American newspapers, which were at times more biased and full of lies than today's worst news outlets. Read morePublished on September 15, 2012 by maryl