The Rose Man of Sing Sing: A True Tale of Life, Murder, and Redemption in the Age of Yellow Journalism (Communications and Media Studies)

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9780823222674: The Rose Man of Sing Sing: A True Tale of Life, Murder, and Redemption in the Age of Yellow Journalism (Communications and Media Studies)
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Today, seventy-three years after his death, journalists still tell tales of Charles E. Chapin. As city editor of Pulitzer’s New York Evening World , Chapin was the model of the take-no-prisoners newsroom tyrant: he drove reporters relentlessly―and kept his paper in the center ring of the circus of big-city journalism. From the Harry K. Thaw trial to the sinking of the Titanic , Chapin set the pace for the evening press, the CNN of the pre-electronic world of journalism.

In 1918, at the pinnacle of fame, Chapin’s world collapsed. Facing financial ruin, sunk in depression, he decided to kill himself and his beloved wife Nellie. On a quiet September morning, he took not his own life, but Nellie’s, shooting her as she slept. After his trial―and one hell of a story for the World’s competitors―he was sentenced to life in the infamous Sing Sing Prison in Ossining, New York.

In this story of an extraordinary life set in the most thrilling epoch of American journalism, James McGrath Morris tracks Chapin’s rise from legendary Chicago street reporter to celebrity powerbroker in media-mad New York. His was a human tragedy played out in the sensational stories of tabloids and broadsheets. But it’s also an epic of redemption: in prison, Chapin started a newspaper to fight for prisoner rights, wrote a best-selling autobiography, had two long-distance love affairs, and tapped his prodigious talents to transform barren prison plots into world-famous rose gardens before dying peacefully in his cell in 1930.

The first portrait of one of the founding figures of modern American journalism, and a vibrant chronicle of the cutthroat culture of scoops and scandals, The Rose Man of Sing Sing is also a hidden history of New York at its most colorful and passionate.

James McGrath Morris is a former journalist, author of Jailhouse Journalism: The Fourth Estate Behind Bars , and a historian. He lives in Falls Church, Virginia, and teaches at West Springfield High School.

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About the Author:

James McGrath Morris is a former journalist, author of Jailhouse Journalism: The Fourth Estate Behind Bars , and a historian. He lives in Falls Church, Virginia, and teaches at West Springfield High School.

Review:

The author of Jailhouse Journalism tells extraordinary true story of legendary newspaper editor Charles E. Chapin... (―Baker & Taylor's Forecast)

Chapin's life, that of a brilliant and limited man who eventually found horticultural redemption, is almost operatic in its sweep, and makes an unforgettable story. (―The Times of Acadiana)

In a book that reads more like a novel than the first biography of one of the legendary figures of newspaper journalism history, James McGrath Morris has done a laudable job of capturing the essence of Charles Chapin. (―Journalism History)

Charles Chapin (the "rose man of Sing Sing") has faded from public memory. Although Morris attempts to remedy that, Chapin was so enigmatic that, despite meticulous research on Morris's part, he remains as much a mystery in biography as he did in life. His life as a convicted murderer is as sensational as almost anything printed in "yellow journalism." Arrogant, mean-spirited, and cold, Chapin rose quickly through reporting to important editorial positions, particularly with Pulitzer newspapers. At age 59, thinking he was drowning in financially troubled waters, he killed his wife as she slept and then did not follow through on his plan to commit suicide. Convicted and sentenced to Sing Sing for a minimum of 20 years, he emerged as a darling of the warden by reviving the prison newspaper and growing thousands of roses. Even then, his self-centered coldness continued. Chapin is a rather pathetic figure, but Morris succeeds, as any good reporter does, in presenting the facts objectively. The book, however, reveals little about Chapin's journalistic abilities or his professional impact. Summing Up: Optional. Useful in biography collections, rather than those supporting the study of journalism; undergraduates and general readers. (―Choice)

...recounts the life of Charles E. Chapin, a founding figure of modern journalism who killed his wife and died in prison. (―Publishers Weekly)

...a damned good story in any era. (―The Washington Post
"The Best of the Year"
)

The reader is actually getting two books in one reading...The first 'book' is about one of the greatest and meanest city editors, Charles Chapin, a spendthrift who erred by killing his wife instead of himself. The second tale is about his life as a rose grower in Sing Sing, the well-know prison, his editing of the prison newspaper and two long-distance love affairs. (―St. Joseph News-Press)

Chapin's story is engagingly told by James McGrath Morris. (―Wall Street Journal)

James McGrath Morris' well-researched narrative has the pace and detail of an engrossing historical novel. (―Boston Herald)

'Rose Man' is the story of an individual not only possessing a strong grasp on what was needed to attract readers in the heyday of stiff competiton among dailies, but one able to personally produce. (―The Gazette)

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