War of Words: A True Tale of Newsprint and Murder

War of Words: A True Tale of Newsprint and Murder

by Simon Read
     
 

War of Words tells the shocking story of the birth of the San Francisco Chronicle, a paper founded in a time when the news business was literally a matter of life and death.

In San Francisco of the Old West, bad news was considered the best news and the term “circulation war” was literal. In this midst, Charles de

Overview

War of Words tells the shocking story of the birth of the San Francisco Chronicle, a paper founded in a time when the news business was literally a matter of life and death.

In San Francisco of the Old West, bad news was considered the best news and the term “circulation war” was literal. In this midst, Charles de Young—cofounder of the San Francisco Chronicle—launched his fledgling paper in 1865. With a nose for news and an ear for gossip, he promoted politicians he favored and lambasted those he scorned. His weapon of choice for ridding San Francisco of corruption was not sword or pistol, but pen.

De Young’s verbal venom targeted Isaac Kalloch, a golden-tongued preacher with a tainted past. Kalloch’s run for mayor infuriated de Young. Insults volleyed back and forth until the verbal blows erupted into explosive violence on the streets of San Francisco.

Using newspaper accounts, diaries, and letters, Simon Read reaches back in time to reconstruct a news story that captivated the nation, granting modern newshounds in-the-moment access to the shocking events that led to the start of one of America’s greatest newspapers.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal

Here is a narrative with the pace of a true crime work—plus the founding of the San Francisco Chronicle. An award-winning British newspaper reporter before he turned to writing fiction, Read has an eye for identifying interesting facts and linking them into a narrative. Using newspaper accounts, diaries, and letters, he carefully reconstructs the events and people surrounding the newspaper's bloody beginning. Read delves deeply into the individual stories of his sometimes unsavory characters, tracing the often bumpy paths that led them to the offices of the de Young brothers' San Francisco Chronicle in the mid-19th century. Although the brothers aimed to fight corruption with newsprint, it took only one near-death encounter with an enraged townsman for them to begin packing their own pistols. VERDICT A true tale of the Old West, replete with smoking guns, brothels, and rugged individualism, this entertaining work will appeal not only to those interested in U.S. history, particularly of the West, but of newspaper history. Even true crime readers will enjoy. —Amanda Kuhnel, Rochester, NY


—Amanda Kuhnel

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781402756122
Publisher:
Union Square Press
Publication date:
05/05/2009
Pages:
320
Product dimensions:
6.32(w) x 9.24(h) x 1.15(d)

Meet the Author

Simon Read, a former Bay Area reporter, is the author of On the House: The Bizarre Killing of Michael Malloy, In the Dark: The True Story of the Blackout Ripper and The Killing Skies: RAF Bomber Command at War. For more information, see www.simon-read.com.

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