Indelible Ink: The Trials of John Peter Zenger and the Birth of America’s Free Press

Richard Kluger. Norton, $27.95 (368p) ISBN 978-0-393-24546-2
Kluger, the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Ashes to Ashes, celebrates the power of free expression in his book on John Peter Zenger’s pioneering colonial newspaper, the New York Weekly Journal. Contextualizing the pre-revolutionary situation in which Zenger launched his paper, Kluger accurately describes the relentless royal prosecution of anyone printing anything without a license, which opened violators to charges of “seditious libel” in disturbing the peace and subversion. In 1710, Zenger became an apprentice to printer William Bradford, but Bradford was soon tried for libel, surviving when his suit was dismissed on a technicality. Zenger returned to Bradford’s employ in 1725 before going on to produce his own four-page paper. In 1733, amid a messy, politicized environment of accusations, scandal, and power shifts, Zenger himself was charged with libel for revealing the aggressive, dominating policies of the British officials. He was jailed for nine months before his historic one-day trial. Framing his work with F.D.R.’s monumental 1941 “Four Freedoms” speech, Kluger produces a comprehensive tribute to Zenger’s legal battle against censorship and reprisal, which sparked progressive thought later appearing in the basic political documents of the young American republic. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 07/11/2016
Release date: 09/13/2016
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 352 pages - 978-0-393-24547-9
Compact Disc - 978-1-68168-240-2
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