Richard Junger's account of nineteenth-century Chicago will seem warmly familiar to readers who know that city's history, and generally entertaining to those who do not. Junger's book identifies a gap in our knowledge of the press that historians have not adequately filled. Although Chicago's contributions to the American newspaper business are legendary, its press has never attracted the systematic analysis it deserves, in part because of the sheer unruliness and scale of any such project, in part because the Chicago fire of 1871 destroyed so many crucial early records.

The book's title leads readers to expect an analysis of how the daily press contributed to what Junger calls “Chicago's first-city crusade” (p. 192). He notes many examples of Chicago's self-conscious efforts to portray itself as...

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