From School Library Journal
Grade 4-8–With clear affection for the topic, Jarrow presents an engaging narrative of the trial that established the precedent of freedom of the press in the colonies prior to the American Revolution. A pawn of greater men, Zenger saw an opportunity to boost his income by printing a new newspaper for the New York colony, while his backers saw an opportunity to criticize the appointed governor. The printer took the fall for them, but was saved by an impassioned legal defense from Andrew Hamilton. Conflicts precipitating the trial are elucidated, as is the importance of Zenger's victory to colonial beliefs and to publishing in the years leading up to war. While sometimes distracting, the facing captions provide students with needed details on key figures, events, and the printing process. Reproductions of contemporary illustrations and of pages from the New-York Weekly Journal
appear throughout. The author's extensive research is evident from the lengthy notes and bibliography. Karen Westermann's John Peter Zenger
(Chelsea House, 2001) is more accessible, but casts a less-critical eye on the evidence for Zenger's role in publishing the stories in his newspaper. Students seeking quick answers will likely pass on this humble-looking title, but patient readers will be rewarded with an inspiring introduction to one of America's dearest values. An excellent supplement to history units.–Jayne Damron, Farmington Community Library, MI
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American history education tends to skip from peak to peak: Columbus, Lost Colony, Jamestown, Pilgrims, Revolution, etc. Filling in a small but historically significant bit, this volume presents the 1735 trial of New York printer John Peter Zenger. The discussion begins with a good summary of Zenger's legal battle and why it matters, followed by a helpful, annotated list of participants and an intelligent discussion that acknowledges the limits of research based on those printed records that have survived. Jarrow clearly organizes and discusses the events leading up to the Zenger trial, its influence on political publishing and discourse in the prerevolutionary colonies, and the long-lasting effect the case had on freedom of the press. The main text appears on the right-hand pages, facing one or more captioned, black-and-white reproductions of period documents, portraits, or prints, and/or a sidebarlike presentation on a topic such as "Who Ran the Colony of New York" or "Seditious Libel." This clear presentation may attract browsers as well as report writers. Carolyn PhelanCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved