Red Blood and Black Ink

Journalism in the Old West

David Dary

In Red Blood and Black Ink, bestselling author David Dary chronicles the long, exciting, often surprising story of journalism in the Old West—from the freewheeling days of the early 1800s to the classic small-town weeklies and busy city newsrooms of the 1920s.

Here are the printers who founded the first papers, arriving in town with a shirttail of type and a secondhand press, setting up shop under trees, in tents, in barns or storefronts, moving on when the town failed, or into larger quarters if it flourished, and sometimes forced to defend their right of free speech with fists or guns.

“The great temptation in commenting on this highly entertaining history is simply to repeat some of the excerpts from old newspapers that Dary has the good sense to quote so lavishly. They are salty, angry, foul-tempered, opinionated, unfair, misspelled and more fun to read than an entire year of contemporary op-ed pages.

—Publishers Weekly

“If the lore of cowboys and outlaws and Indians weren’t so appealing, the central myth of the Old West would be the story of its newspapers, as it is vividly related here.

—The New Yorker
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Here, too, are Mark Twain, Bret Harte, Horace Greeley-and William Allen White writing on the death of his young daughter. Here is the Telegraph and Texas Register article that launched the legend of the Alamo, and dozens of tongue-in-cheek, brilliant, or moving reports of national events and local doings, including holdups, train robberies, wars, elections, shouting matches, weddings, funerals, births, and much, much more.

About the Author

David Dary is head of the School of Journalism at the University of Oklahoma. He is the author of seven previous books on the West, including the classic Cowboy Culture, and is the recipient of many awards, including the Cowboy Hall of Fame Wrangler Award, the Western Writers of America's Spur Award, and the Westerners International Award.