The Invention of News


You are viewing an older version of the Yalebooks website. Please visit out new website with more updated information and a better user experience:

How the World Came to Know About Itself

Andrew Pettegree

View Inside Format: Cloth
Price: $35.00
Our shopping cart only supports Mozilla Firefox. Please ensure you're using that browser before attempting to purchase.

Also Available in:

Out of Print

The extraordinary history of news and its dissemination, from medieval pilgrim tales to the birth of the newspaper

Long before the invention of printing, let alone the availability of a daily newspaper, people desired to be informed. In the pre-industrial era news was gathered and shared through conversation and gossip, civic ceremony, celebration, sermons, and proclamations. The age of print brought pamphlets, edicts, ballads, journals, and the first news-sheets, expanding the news community from local to worldwide. This groundbreaking book tracks the history of news in ten countries over the course of four centuries. It evaluates the unexpected variety of ways in which information was transmitted in the premodern world as well as the impact of expanding news media on contemporary events and the lives of an ever-more-informed public.
Andrew Pettegree investigates who controlled the news and who reported it; the use of news as a tool of political protest and religious reform; issues of privacy and titillation; the persistent need for news to be current and journalists trustworthy; and people’s changed sense of themselves as they experienced newly opened windows on the world. By the close of the eighteenth century, Pettegree concludes, transmission of news had become so efficient and widespread that European citizens—now aware of wars, revolutions, crime, disasters, scandals, and other events—were poised to emerge as actors in the great events unfolding around them.

Andrew Pettegree is professor of modern history, University of St. Andrews, and founding director of the St. Andrews Reformation Studies Institute. He lives in Fife, Scotland.

‘Andrew Pettegree’s The Invention of News is a fascinating book - beautifully written, admirably organized, with a mass of information about even the most recondite means of collecting and transmitting news before 1800.’—Alastair Hamilton, TLS

'At this moment of rapid change in news media, Andrew Pettegree's learned and wide-ranging survey of five centuries and three continents has an unusually contemporary resonance for a major work of history. His message is cheering: human curiosity is intimately linked to human freedom, and is inclined to get its own way.' - Diarmaid MacCulloch, author of Reformation: Europe's House Divided, 1490-1700
'Andrew Pettegree has given us a splendid new account of the flow of information and opinion in Europe from the end of the Middle Ages through the eighteenth century. From postal systems and tavern talk to handwritten commercial letters and the emergence of the periodical press -- Pettegree tells it all, with rich and entertaining example and luminous reference to Europe's political and religious history. As we face the communication revolution of our own time, The Invention of News is an essential guide to matters of truth and trust in our hungry quest for information.' - Natalie Zemon Davis
'The news is out: Andrew Pettegree writes the big ones best.' - Steven Ozment, author of A Mighty Fortress: A New History of the German People
“[Pettegree] offers a radically new understanding of printing in the years of its birth and youth.”—Robert Pinsky, New York Times Book Review on The Book in the Renaissance

“Newspaper themselves were once new media. Yet as Andrew Pettegree explains in an elegantly written and beautifully constructed account, it took several centuries before they became the dominant medium for news.”—Peter Wilby, New Statesman

“From imperial messenger and town crier to Citizen Kane: a vigorous history of the rise of the news business.”—Kirkus
“If you have ever wondered how this noisy, self-important carousel got going, Pettegree's book will tell you.”—Jeremy Paxman, The Guardian
The Invention of News is. .a painstaking study of news networks before and during the early days of newspapers .[which] challenges our preconceptions about the news. . .[I]f you believe in the examined life, in reflecting on your own behaviour, [it is] hugely interesting."—Andrew Marr, Prospect
“It is a fascinating and fundamental story of power and intrigue in state and church, business and trade, and importantly vital in the demands for democratic freedom by the oppressed.”—Gerlad Isaaman, Camden New Journal

 ‘The Invention of News is a valuable addition to our knowledge of European cultural history. It is also an ambitious book [and] a good history. It illuminates and entertains. . .’—Adrian Tinniswood, Literary Review

“Pettegree gets through this vast, multidirectional mass of early modern material lucidly and expertly.”—Lawrence Klepp, The Weekly Standard

“A fascinating account of the gathering and dissemination of news from the end of the Middle Ages to the French Revolution, when the newspaper came of age.”—Glenn Altschuler, The Huffington Post

Magisterial . . . The Invention of News is an outstanding introduction to the past that also helps us understand our future.”—Adam Kirsch, The Barnes and Noble Review

“Pettegree relies on an impressive range of archival sources, including diaries, that illuminate how several individuals acquired and understood everyday events. This expansive view of news and how it reached people will be fascinating to readers interested in communication and cultural history.”—Library Journal, starred review

“Groundbreaking.”—Folger Magazine
‘Andrew Pettegree’s capacious and compelling book traces the evolution of news, from the exchange of manuscripts in the late medieval period to the triumph of newspaper and journals as a medium for the expression of public opinion in the 18th-century Enlightenment. . .Pettegree’s book is judicious and well written, with illustrations that give an immediate sense of how ‘news’ evolved from being the concern of the political elite to the privilege of entire nations.’—Justin Champion, BBC History Magazine
'Some people forecast – I think wrongly – the death of newspapers. Andrew Pettegree, in a groundbreaking study, investigates their birth. This fine historian has written an intriguing and comprehensive study of the early centuries of the press in ten countries. It deserves to be widely read by journalists and all who are interested in their profession.' - Lord Patten

“Though Pettegree’s impeccably researched history ranges over four centuries and half a dozen countries, he manages to cover countless details without losing sight of broader themes.”—Nick Romeo, The Daily Beast

“Revelatory.”—The New Yorker

The Invention of News delivers a rich and compelling narrative, which picks away at several common presumptions about the history of news.”—Books and Culture

“This is a wide-ranging and readable study—and a very good one—that makes clear the rise of journalism as we have long known it was anything but predictable centuries ago.”?Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly

“Howe’s is a voice that ought still to be heard – and in this collection we may bear privileged witness to the gathering power of that voice over the course of its long development.”?Open Letters Monthly

“This is a wide-ranging study, but a good one, and one that makes clear the rise of journalism was anything but predictable.”—Chris Sterling, CBQ

“This book covers the transmission of information to 1800; it contains a great mass of information about Renaissance communications and the expansion of understanding in the age of political and mercantile expansion.”—Leonard R. N. Ashley, Chronique

"[An] elegant survey. . . . A deftly written and sensibly organized history of who made [news] and how."—Brendan Dooley, Renaissance Quarterly 

“Erudite and entertaining . . . tells a lively story of European news networks, the rise of the newspaper industry, and the commercialization and spread of news from the late medieval period to the end of the eighteenth century.”—Chris R. Kyle, Journal of Modern History

Winner of the 2015 Goldsmith Book Prize given by the Harvard Kennedy School, Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy.
ISBN: 9780300179088
Publication Date: March 25, 2014
456 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
64 b/w illus.
The Bookshop of the World

Making and Trading Books in the Dutch Golden Age

Andrew Pettegree and Arthur der Weduwen

View details