Wednesday, January 27, 2010

New and Noteworthy---Sticks, Stones, Bones, and Words At War

Words At War: The Civil War and American Journalism, Sachsman, David B., Rushing, S. Kettrell and Morris, Roy, editors, Purdue University Press, 412 pp.,index, notes, 2008, $29.95.

Words at War analyzes the various ways in which the nation's newspaper editors, reporters, and war correspondents covered the Civil War. In doing so they both reflected the mindsets of their readers and shaped the responses of their subscibers and their antagonists. The sections of Words at War: Fighting Words, Confederates and Copperheads, Union Forever, and Continuing Conflict trace the evolving roles of the press in the antebellum, wartime, and postwar periods.

Spanning 1820 to 1900 the work offers a very large slice of newspaper history. Not limited to the Secession Crisis, campaigns and battles, Words at War covers the Nullification Crisis of 1832, the Amistad trial, the emergence of the Whig Party, the birth of the Republican Party, the Southern Press Association, the Sioux Trial of 1862, Edwin Stanton as Spinmeister, the post-war constitutional amendments, the Klan and race riots, popular religion, and lynching. Famous battlefront reporters and their writings are not neglected. Thirty essays, each with its own notes, satisfy the reader looking for scholarship. J. Cutler Andrews' seminal studies, The North Reports the Civil War and The South Reports the Civil War and Lorman A. Ratner's and Dwight L. Teeter's Fanatics and Fire-eaters: Newspapers and the Coming of the Civil War by now have company on CWL's bookshelf.

Top Image Source: General Ambrose Burnside reads newspaper to Matthew Brady.

Bottom Image: Stacked Arms with Newspaper Reader

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