Author: Richard Kluger
Links: Indiebound |Goodreads
Summary: Fascinating story, but a little bogged down in the details.
Although freedom of the press is (mostly) a value we accept without question today, when the British first colonized North America, they brought with them a long history of punishing any published criticism as libel. Regardless of whether the printed material was true or false, it could destabilize the government and must be stopped! When a small, weekly newspaper began criticizing the British governor of New York, there was no question the printer would be punished. The novel argument his lawyer made, that accusations must be false to be libelous, was the beginning of a new approach to freedom of the press in the nascent United States.
I had a bit of trouble getting into this book. There were a number of run-on sentences that weren’t grammatically unforgivable, perhaps, but that were hard to follow. Once I got into the story, I enjoyed it enough I didn’t notice the sentence structure. However, the story did still feel weighed down by the details. Honestly, I’m not sure there was a book’s worth of story here. This was a fascinating case, but the amount of backstory we got, on the law and on the characters, felt excessive. I did enjoy it and would recommend it to someone interested in the time period or topic. It definitely isn’t the sort of book that I would suggest to someone new to nonfiction though! It felt too much like work to read.