Telegram!: Modern History as Told Through More Than 400 Witty, Poignant, and Revealing Telegrams

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There was a time when the sight of a Western Union delivery boy coming up the walk filled Americans with a sense of excitement or trepidation. Between its invention in the mid-nineteenth century and its post-1960s relegation to money transfer and congratulations, the telegraph served as the primary medium for urgent messages. Telegram! collects the most poignant and revealing examples of this earliest form of instant communication.

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Overview

There was a time when the sight of a Western Union delivery boy coming up the walk filled Americans with a sense of excitement or trepidation. Between its invention in the mid-nineteenth century and its post-1960s relegation to money transfer and congratulations, the telegraph served as the primary medium for urgent messages. Telegram! collects the most poignant and revealing examples of this earliest form of instant communication.

Organized into categories such as "Parents and Children," "Hooray for Hollywood," and "Lincoln in the Telegraph Office," the telegrams range from such moving personal notes as W.C. Fields's wire to his dying friend John Barrymore, "You can't do this to me," to political advice, such as one voter's telegraphed suggestion to President Herbert Hoover: "Vote for Roosevelt and make it unanimous."

The communication compiled here also provides a novel and engaging perspective on modern history. Abraham Lincoln virtually conducted the Civil War over the telegraph wires, financial nabobs used them to discuss (and fail to predict) the stock market crash that precipitated the Great Depression, and Japanese diplomats in Washington sent a flurry of encoded telegrams to Tokyo in the weeks leading up to the attack on Pearl Harbor.

This handsome volume blends history, sociology, wit, and creativity as captured and dispatched by the telegram in its golden age.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Rosenkrantz uses the tales told in over 400 telegrams to demonstrate the vivid, intimate version of history they tell, one unrivaled by journalism. Civil War samples are plentiful, such as this part of Confederate General Beauregard's telegram after the bombardment of Fort Sumter: "Give in like a good fellow, and bring your garrison to dinner, and beds afterwards. Nobody injured, I hope?" Aside from revealing authors' personalities and providing contemporary accounts of events, the telegrams illustrate how the ability to communicate rapidly could shape events, as with decoded telegrams sent by Japanese officials before the Pearl Harbor attack. Playful messages sent between famous family members and friends-such as the Kennedy family or movie stars-illustrate the genre's lighter side. An introductory essay and a time line of the telegraph's development augment the work along with a thorough permissions section that documents sources. While Rosenkrantz presents the telegram as a genre, see David Paul Nickles's Under the Wire: How the Telegraph Changed Diplomacy for an exploration of the telegraph's political influence. A worthy purchase for public and academic libraries.-Marianne Orme, Des Plaines P.L., IL Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780805071016
  • Publisher: Holt, Henry & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 10/28/2003
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Pages: 224
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 8.26 (h) x 0.85 (d)

Meet the Author

Linda Rosenkrantz is co-author of the bestselling baby-naming guide Beyond Jason & Jennifer and has written numerous other fiction and nonfiction books. She lives with her husband and daughter in Los Angeles.

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Table of Contents

Introduction xi
Part 1
Pith 3
Birth and Death 6
Parents and Children 13
Siblings 24
Love and Marriage 26
Friendship 38
Mundanities 40
Shopping 43
Breakthroughs 45
Felicitations 49
Acceptance and Regrets 55
Send Money Stop 59
Pique 68
Jibes and Jousts 75
Hooray for Hollywood 79
Classic Films 83
Oscars 89
Casting Calls 90
Big Breaks 92
Musical Notes 94
Good Sports 96
Part 2
Lincoln in the Telegraph Office 103
The Civil War 110
Custer's Next-to-Last Stand 117
Wounded Knee 118
An Early Cuban Crisis 119
Elections 120
World War I 126
The Russian Revolution 130
Gandhi 132
The Crash and the Depression 132
Hitler and the Genesis of World War II 135
Roosevelt and Churchill 138
Pearl Harbor 140
America Enters the War 144
The Holocaust 149
Hitler's Demise 151
Hiroshima 152
The Cold War 153
Israel 157
Korea 159
The Cuban Missile Crisis 160
Pride and Prejudice 162
Vietnam 170
Bush Sr. in China 173
Disasters 174
9/11 178
Telegraph Time Line 181
Permissions 193
Acknowledgments 200
Index 202
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