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Scandal and Civility: Journalism and the Birth of American Democracy Hardcover – January 23, 2009

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; First Edition edition (January 23, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195172124
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195172126
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 1.4 x 6.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,886,165 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"[H]istorian Marcus Daniel constructs a compelling and extraordinarily readable account of America in the pivotal decade of the 1790s...Daniel provides equilibrium and perspective from an 'outsider' to the journalism history subfield...Scandal & Civility is a ripping good yarn that captures the chaos, nastiness, and verbal fisticuffs of the raucous early American press. It is just plain fun to read...Daniel's book is a valuable contribution...and places journalism center stage. Ultimately, Scandal and Civility is satisfying and persuasive, and could help propel the study of journalism history into the main channels of American historical discourse." --merican Journalism

"A strong contribution to scholarship on the postrevolutionary press .Daniel strikes a blow against the perception of politics as a high art practiced only by elites." --H-Net

"To get some perspective . . . one need go no further than Scandal and Civility, Marcus Daniel's detailed study of the American press in the 1790s. . . . A timely reminder of just how vital a thriving news culture is to the well-being of our democracy."-Jay Winik, The Wall Street Journal

"Daniel ends this superb and timely book with a reminder that America's great and durable institutions -freedom of the press among them-arose not out of the calm meditations of the Founders, but in the heat of acute political crises."-Patrick Allitt, The American Conservative

"Without partisan and even scurrilous printers pushing the limits of a free press in the seventeen-nineties, Marcus Daniel argues, the legitimacy of a loyal opposition never would have been established and the new nation, with its vigorous and democratizing political culture, might never have found its feet."-Jill Lepore, The New Yorker

"In this spirited and well-written book, Daniel offers a new context for understanding the newspaper wars of the 1790s."-Gordon S. Wood, author of mpire of Liberty

"More than any other book, this one shows how the leading journalists of the 1790s were important public figures. Their ideas as well as their doings mattered. Evenhanded, lively, probing--a thoughtful book about thoughtful people who had a tremendous impact on the birth of American politics."--David Waldstreicher, author of Runaway America: Benjamin Franklin, Slavery, and the American Revolution

"A well-written and well-researched summary of the most important Federalist and Republican editors of the 1790s." --Journalism History

"Scandal & Civility takes us back to the journalistic frenzy and scurrility that accompanied the rise of democratic politics in the infant American republic. It is a superb performance, one that challenges many long-established scholarly conventions while recreating the worlds (and the wars) of words that produced the likes of William Cobbett, William Duane, and the other slashing editorial combatants of the 1790s."-Sean Wilentz, author of The Rise of American Democracy: From Jefferson to Lincoln

About the Author

Associate Professor of History, University of Hawaii at Manoa

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By William Tell on June 9, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Marcus Daniel is on a mission to rehabilitate (or at least better situate) a group of five major newspaper editors from the America of the 1790s from the dismissive attitudes of several generations of historians who bought too much in to that whole press objectivity thing. But here's the cool thing: he's doing it in such a way that us general interest readers can follow along just fine. And he's doing it at a time when a lot of the same handwringing that was going on back then is going on now.

Now before I go any further let me state right out that this book would bore many people to if not tears at least reddened, watery eyes. But I really enjoyed it.

What I liked most about Scandal and Civility is that Daniel takes his six journalists -- Benjamin Franklin Bache, William Cobbett, Philip Freneau, John Fenno William Duane and Noah Webster -- and sets up their entry in to the field, moves in to their back story and then digs in to their role in the journalism and political battles of the 1790s. The result is that the deeper in to the book you get, the better you understand the issues they were writing about and the more you can contextualize their editorial stances, political ties, reactions to and participation in the discourse of scandal and scurrility, etc. And in the end, Daniel makes his point, I think. That is: partisan journalism wasn't just some ridiculous sideshow, but rather was an important part of the political debates of the time, of the education of both politicians and voters, and of the (still debated) meaning of a free society with a free press.
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