The first "war correspondent," William H. Russell of "The Times
"of London, described himself and his profession as "the miserable
parent of a luckless tribe." Others saw it differently: the war
correspondent became the stuff of dreams and an urgent romantic
calling. . . .
Now, Robert H. Patton, acclaimed historian, author of "The Pattons"
("Exceptional"--"The Washington Post;" "Truly remarkable"--John S.
Eisenhower) and "Patriot Pirates" ("Soul-stirring--as good as
reading a Patrick O'Brian novel, except that every word is
true"--Michael Korda), rediscovers and celebrates, in "Hell Before
Breakfast, "America's first war correspondents, forgotten today but
legends in their time. Here are the men who, between 1850 and 1914,
and particularly during America's Civil War and the
Spanish-American War, led the most romantic and thrilling of lives
on the edgiest frontiers of time and space, where empires fell and
dynasties flourished; they were correspondents who saw the world,
broke the story, were making the news during the years when
newspapers made available the most foreign of landscapes and their
circulation wars were revolutionizing contemporary life, shaping
global events, and creating history.
Patton writes of the decades of lightning progress and high
adventure, when America was emerging as a great power and the
monarchies of Europe battled for dominance through a series of
brief, bloody imperial wars; when the newly discovered electric
telegraph enabled these extraordinary first-person dispatches to be
splashed across the daily newspapers then proliferating on both
sides of the Atlantic.
Through the eyes (and minds) of American adventurers, soldiers, and
artists-turned-correspondents--Mark Twain and the painter John
Millet among them--we see what they saw and what they brought to
life: the Civil War, the Austro-Prussian War, the Franco-Prussian
War, the Russo-Turkish War. Patton writes about "New York Herald
"reporter Henry Stanley, who led a caravan from the Tanzanian coast
into the uncharted "cannibal country" and, after a 236-day trek,
discovered the long lost and presumed dead Dr. David Livingstone .
. . about Archibald Forbes of the London "Daily News" bringing to
life in his dispatches the frantic assembly of barricades along
Paris streets as royalists and Communists fought with bayonets
following the Prussian invasion.
Here are the fearless young correspondents, among them Henry
Villard of Bavaria, a journalist who covered the Civil War and
ended up a financial titan, head of the Northern Pacific Railway
and an early investor in the company that would ultimately become
General Electric; and George Smalley, chief war correspondent of
the "New York Tribune, " who watched for twenty-four hours as the
Union Army of the Potomac and the Confederate Army of Northern
Virginia fought in the cornfields and woodlands around Antietam
These correspondents were at center stage and, through their
on-the-spot reporting, became legends in their time. Their intrepid
spirit and sense of adventure inspired generations of storytellers,
explorers, artists, writers, statesmen and politicians, and even
moviemakers--from Rudyard Kipling and Winston Churchill to Theodore
Roosevelt, D. W. Griffith, and Cecil B. DeMille--men whose
adolescence was shaped during this spectacular age of war
"From the Hardcover edition."
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