Reporting the War: Freedom of the Press from the American Revolution to the War on Terror

Overview

Threats to freedom of the press and the need for democratic dialogue are always greatest in wartime. At a time when the debate over the role of the free press is as contentious as ever before, John Byrne Cooke, son of the veteran journalist Alistair Cooke, delivers a must-read exploration of freedom of the press in wartime throughout American history. Reporting the War brings to life how the press has affected the course of some, but not all, American wars, how the government has tried to suppress opposing ...

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Overview

Threats to freedom of the press and the need for democratic dialogue are always greatest in wartime. At a time when the debate over the role of the free press is as contentious as ever before, John Byrne Cooke, son of the veteran journalist Alistair Cooke, delivers a must-read exploration of freedom of the press in wartime throughout American history. Reporting the War brings to life how the press has affected the course of some, but not all, American wars, how the government has tried to suppress opposing opinion, how the press has struggled, and continues to struggle to preserve the principles of the Founding Fathers. Cooke charts a fascinating journey from the American Revolution to the ongoing War on Terrorism.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Cooke...gives an excellent, incisive commentary on how freedom of the press in the U.S., from the time of the 13 colonies on, has played out in times of war...A timely study, Cooke's history presents the fifth estate in all its conflicted glory: a power that ensures accountability and the visibility of a loyal opposition just as easily as it vilifies individuals and manipulates the conscience of America." - Publishers Weekly

"A worthy and readable piece, especially for journalism students and those who want to be better, more critical consumers of the news." - Kirkus

"Cooke offers a broad historical perspective on the enduring tension between press and government in times of war." - Booklist

"...a frightening portrait of today's government well-painted through level-headed documentation." - Jackson Hole News & Guide

"Reporting the War is a great reference and concise history for journalists and anyone else concerned with freedom of expression."

- Fred Brown, Colorado Freedom of Information Council

"A thoroughly researched and incisive history of the relationship between journalism and the state in times of war. It is essential reading for anyone interested in understanding how a free, independent and critical press has served as the public's best means of oversight on the government's use and abuse of its war powers."—Richard Slotkin, award-winning author of Regeneration Through Violence and Lost Battalions

"Reporting the War is written with unaffected intelligence, absolute clarity and an astute eye for the sorts of details that make for fascinating reading. Every well-dressed library needs a copy of this book, as does every journalist, every historian and everyone for whom freedom of speech is sacred."—Alexandra Fuller, author of Don't Lets Go to the Dogs Tonight and Scribbling the Cats

"Reporting the War is a must-read book for all correspondents heading off to cover a war. And it's a fascinating dose of reality for all consumers of their war coverage. It is a definitive and compelling account of the evolving struggle between a free press and censorious officialdom down through every war our country has ever fought."— Joseph Albright, co-author of Bombshell: The Secret Story of America's Unknown Atomic Spy Conspiracy

"Whichever side one takes on the wisdom of American and British military involvement in Iraq, John Byrne Cooke's tight, timely, and engaging study of America's ongoing struggles from colonial times till today over civil liberties and the quest of a free press for unfettered access to information during times of war provides vitally necessary—and, all too often, missing—context. A serious subject, seriously treated."—Tracy Lee Simmons, author of Climbing Parnassus

Kirkus Reviews
The son of famed expat journalist Alistair Cooke doffs his historical-novelist garb (South of the Border, 1989, etc.) to offer well-placed insights on the press in wartime. Democracy is more demanding than other political arrangements, newsman Eric Sevareid once noted. It's also more demanding to investigate events independently instead of accepting press releases and briefings at face value, as the media seemed inclined to do during the first years of the Iraq War. The nation's founders, notes Cooke, "saw government's inclination to suppress the rights of citizens not as occasional, or rare, but constant," especially during wartime. Cooke highlights journalists who resisted government demands to present news as propaganda and often came under fire for doing so. ("You would think by now we could agree that dissent is not disloyal," he writes.) Pioneering colonial printer Isaiah Thomas, for instance, happily pilloried king and Parliament throughout the years leading up to the Revolution, proclaimed victory as "an event that must affect every patriotic American with joy and pleasing sensibility," and promptly turned his pen against a Massachusetts legislature eager to tax its new subjects. Similarly, crusading journalist Walter Lippmann ended his long career as a gadfly by enduring the considerable wrath of Lyndon Johnson, who conducted what James Reston called a "vicious vendetta" against him that ended only when Walter Cronkite joined Lippmann in denouncing troop escalations in Vietnam. Cooke makes room for discussion of contrarians on the right, such as William Randolph Hearst and Robert McCormick, whose free-press engagements were sometimes self-serving but sometimes admirable. Theauthor's more recent heroes, however, are undoubtedly liberal journalists who have stepped up to question the current administration's conduct of the war in Iraq, among them Philip Gourevitch, Seymour Hersh, George Packer and Dana Priest. A worthy and readable piece, especially for journalism students and those who want to be better, more critical consumers of the news.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781403975157
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
  • Publication date: 10/16/2007
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 6.81 (w) x 9.07 (h) x 1.12 (d)

Meet the Author

John Byrne Cooke is the author of several critically acclaimed historical novels, including The Snowblind Moon, which was a Book-of-the-Month Club Featured Alternate and recipient of a Spur Award, and South of the Border, which was a Literary Guild selection. He lives in Jackson, Wyoming.

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Table of Contents

Revolution

• The Mexican War

• Civil War

• Spain and the Philippines

• World War I

• World War II

• Korea

• Vietnam

• Iraq I

• Iraq II

• 9/11 and the War on Terrorism

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