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Ebook Information

Fanatics and Fire-eaters

Newspapers and the Coming of the Civil War

Tracing the role of America’s newspapers in the country’s descent into civil war

In the troubled years leading up to the Civil War, newspapers in the North and South presented the arguments for and against slavery, debated the right to secede, and disputed the Dred Scott decision, denouncing opposing viewpoints with imagination and vigor.

Although it is impossible to determine the precise effect of the newspapers on their readers, there is no question that they took the temperature of their communities and recorded the rising local agitations, unifying opinions, raising alarms, and cementing prejudices.

Lorman A. Ratner and Dwight Teeter's Fanatics and Fire-Eaters ably demonstrates the power of a fast-growing media to influence both perception and the course of events.

"A fascinating and well-written account of the role newspapers played in the years leading up to the Civil War." --North Carolina Historical Review


Lorman A. Ratner was a professor of history, dean of the College of Arts & Sciences, and director of the Center of Multicultural Studies at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Dwight L. Teeter Jr. is a professor of journalism & electronic media at the University of Tennessee.

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