''This prodigiously researched work is a testament to the courage of Defender writers through the century, a chronicle of the influence of an important institution -- and a sweeping history of black America.'' --National Book Review
''Ethan Michaeli's The Defender is a rich, majestic, sweeping history, both of a newspaper and of a people. In these pages, Michaeli captures the degradation and exhilaration of black America in the twentieth century, and driving this story are a handful of men and women infused with incredible courage and a deep faith in journalism's power to seek justice.'' --Alex Kotlowitz, New York Times bestselling author of There Are No Children Here
''In the spring of 1905 Robert Abbott sat at a card table squeezed into a corner of a realtor's office on Chicago's South Side to put together the first issue of a newspaper he called The Defender. In the 110 years since it has more than lived up to its name, its pages filled with searing reports of racial injustice and fierce editorials in support of its readers' rights. Now Ethan Michaeli has recreated The Defender's remarkable history and reminded us of the power of the press at its courageous best.'' --Kevin Boyle, National Book Award-winning author of Arc of Justice
''This is a major work of American history -- the compelling and richly-researched story of the legendary newspaper and the astonishing collection of history-makers whose lives are forever intertwined.'' --Jonathan Alter, author of The Center Holds
''Here, at long last, is the story that needed to be told. In The Defender, Ethan Michaeli has laid out the power and importance of a fearless newspaper in the struggle for black equality. Meticulously researched, engagingly written, Michaeli's landmark history of this storied institution, which has served at key moments as lens, interpreter, catalyst or voice for blacks' full citizenship rights, will become an essential resource in African American cultural and political studies.'' --Carol Anderson, professor of African American studies at Emory University, author of White Rage
''The story of the Chicago Defender is one of the great untold stories of black America -- if not the great story. At every crucial juncture, from the northern migration, to Pullman strikes to civil rights right up to Barack Obama, the Defender was there chronicling, advocating and building an entire civic, political and intellectual universe. It is remarkable to me that this book wasn't written until now and an absolute god-send that Ethan Michaeli has stepped in to fill the void.'' --Chris Hayes, host of MSNBC's All in with Chris Hayes
''For more than a century, the South Side of Chicago has been a hub of African American history, and throughout the years, that saga has been told through the pages of the Chicago Defender newspaper. In this compelling book, Ethan Michaeli shares the story of the Defender and the essential role it has played in Chicago s black community and beyond.'' --David Axelrod, author of Believer: My Forty Years in Politics
''Just as the Defender has broken important journalistic ground time and again in its' storied history, author Ethan Michaeli is an original and intrepid force in Chicago media, having devoted his life to elevating and celebrating the silenced voices of Chicago's public housing projects. Michaeli on the Defender is an unbeatable combination.'' --Dave Isay, founder of StoryCorps, author of Listening Is an Act of Love
From the Inside Flap
Giving voice to the voiceless, TheChicago Defender condemned Jim Crow, catalyzed the Great Migration, and focused the electoral power of black America. Robert S. Abbott founded The Defender in 1905, smuggled hundreds of thousands of copies into the most isolated communities in the segregated South, and was dubbed a Modern Moses, becoming one of the first black millionaires in the process. His successor wielded the newspapers clout to elect mayors and presidents, including Harry S. Truman and John F. Kennedy, who would have lost in 1960 if not for TheDefenders support. Along the way, its pages were filled with columns by legends like Ida B. Wells, Langston Hughes, and Martin Luther King Jr.
Drawing on dozens of interviews and extensive archival research, Ethan Michaeli constructs a revelatory narrative of race in America and brings to life the reporters who braved lynch mobs and policemens clubs to do their jobs, from the age of Teddy Roosevelt to the age of Barack Obama.