Red Blood & Black Ink: Journalism in the Old West

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9780679446552: Red Blood & Black Ink: Journalism in the Old West

For the first time, the long, exciting, often surprising story of journalism in the Old West--from the freewheeling days of the early 1800s when all the news was an expression of the editor's opinion, to the more balanced reporting of the classic small-town weeklies and busy city newsrooms of the 1920s. Here are the printers who founded the first papers, arriving in town with a shirttail of type and a secondhand press, setting up shop under trees, in tents, in barns or storefronts, moving on when the town failed, or into larger quarters if it flourished. Using many excerpts from the early papers themselves, Dary shows us the amazing ways the early editors stretched the language, often inventing new words to describe unusual events or to lambaste their targets--and how they sometimes had to defend their right of free speech with fists or guns. We see women working in partnership with their husbands or out on their own, and tramp printers who moved from place to place as need for their services rose and fell.
Here, too, are Mark Twain, Bret Harte, Horace Greeley--and William Allen White writing on the death of his young daughter. Here is the Telegraph and Texas Register article that launched the legend of the Alamo, and dozens of tongue-in-cheek, brilliant, or moving reports of national events and local doings, including holdups, train robberies, wars, elections, shouting matches, hyperbolic vegetable-growing contests, weddings, funerals, births, and much, much more.
In Red Blood & Black Ink David Dary makes a strong case for the importance of the press in settling the West and helping to knit the nation together, making us into the country we are today. A fascinating look at a neglected part of our history.

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Review:

After a reader shot the editor of a Kansas newspaper, the jury refused to convict the culprit. "That's just the way it is with some juries," reported another newspaper. "They think it no more harm to shoot an editor than a Jack-rabbit." Indeed, the men who reported the news on the frontier (including such luminaries as Mark Twain and Bret Harte) had to be a wild bunch. Red Blood and Black Ink provides an informative and very entertaining look at how the frontier press covered the news in the roughest towns around and helped set a cultural tone that resonates to the present day.

From the Back Cover:

"One of the very best of David Dary's masterfully well-informed and entertaining histories of life in the Old West--exuberant, evocative, and all joy to read."
                        

--Alvin M. Josephy, Jr.

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