"It was the best of times, it was the worst of journalism," begins Eric Burns in his witty anecdotal history of the first century of journalism in America. The Emmy Award–winning host of Fox News Watch and author of The Spirit of America, Burns looks at newspapers from Boston's 1690 Publick Occurrences to the unabashedly partisan scandal sheets of Thomas Jefferson's presidency. He finds that, despite their flaws and quirks—and even because of some of them—the journalists and publishers hashed out the issues that would lead America to declare its independence, and then to determine what sort of nation it would become.
"What a revelation! The raucous joy of our founding journalists is part of our nation's DNA, and what a good thing that is. [The book] captures the passion of Benjamin Franklin, his overlooked brother James, and other great characters ranging from Sam Adams to Thomas Paine. To understand the press today you need to understand the press that gave birth to our country."—Walter Isaacson