Summary and Info
During the years just before the Civil War, key newspapers in the United States became true mass media for the first time, reaching American society as never before. In "Fanatics and Fire-eaters", Lorman A. Ratner and Dwight L. Teeter, Jr., examine how this newly acquired power was used and how it exacerbated festering regional issues - preeminently the issue of slavery - as newspapers described and characterized some of the key events preceding the outbreak of the Civil War. Analyzing specific events, from the Brooks-Sumner incident to the attack on Fort Sumter, the authors provide a thorough and colorful background of the descent into war. Tracing political accounts and diatribes published in northern and southern newspapers from 1856 to the shelling of Fort Sumter in 1861, Ratner and Teeter assert that newspapers, in their desire to be profitable and promote specific agendas, stoked the fires that heated tensions between North and South. "Fanatics and Fire-eaters" examines a time when the press gained greater influence and timeliness because of telegraph lines, steam-driven presses, and faster distribution via railroad networks.
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