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The modern newspaper is not as old as you think. Until the early nineteenth century, they were thin and expensive. It was only with the advent of the penny press circa 1830 that the truly mass broadsheet was born. Yet selling a paper for a cent was not a straight-forward business proposition. In order to turn a profit, you needed to sell a lot of copy. You won't be surprised to learn that the best way to move papers was to give the people what they wanted--scandal, outrage, marvels, miracles and outright inventions. In The Sun and the Moon. The Remarkable True Account of Hoaxers, Showmen, Dueling Journalists, and Lunar Man-Bats in Nineteenth-Century New York (Basic Books, 2008) shows how the early masters of the trade invented the modern paper by telling the public that the moon was inhabited by the recognizable ancestors of "Bat Boy." Goodman marches a gallery of rogues across the book's pages--an astronomer with an over-active imagination, an editor with an invented past, a horde of street urchins hawking papers and eating oysters. P.T. Barnum and Edger Allan Poe make appearances! This is a terrifically entertaining book, popular history at its best. And, of course, it's ALL TRUE! Now put down The Weekly World News and go buy The Sun and the Moon!
19th Century, Edgar Allen Poe, Hoaxes, Journalism, New York, Newspapers, P. T. Barnum
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