The Life of Kings: The Baltimore Sun and the Golden Age of the American Newspaper


Product Details

Rowman & Littlefield Publishers
Publish Date
6.0 X 9.0 X 0.73 inches | 1.05 pounds

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About the Author

Stephens Broening was Associated Press correspondent in Paris, Moscow, and Lisbon from 1965 to 1976 before joining the Sun as assistant city editor in 1976. In 1978 he was named the paper's first Op-Ed page editor, a post he held until 1985 when he was assigned to the Sun's Washington bureau as diplomatic correspondent. In 1990, Broening joined the International Herald-Tribune in Paris as a news editor, responsible for the IHT's coverage of the Americas and Asia. He returned to Baltimore in 1996 and for ten years was a visiting scholar in history at the Johns Hopkins University. Frederic B. Hill was a reporter and foreign correspondent for the Sun, including tours as bureau chief in London and Paris, covering Europe and southern Africa, before becoming an editorial writer for the Evening Sun. He was foreign affairs director for Senator Charles McC. Mathias Jr. (R., MD) in 1985 and 1986. He then established the State Department's Office of Special Programs. The office conducted policy planning exercises (war games) and roundtable discussions on security, political, economic, and global issues for State and key national security agencies from 1986 to 2006. He is the author of Ships, Swindlers and Scalded Hogs, the rise and fall of a mid-nineteenth- century Maine shipyard.


Broening and Hill, two seasoned newspapermen from the Baltimore Sun, enlist their former colleagues--veteran reporters and editors--to document the splendid history of the newspaper. The book explores the Sun from the inside out, covering the company's organizational makeup, journalistic standards and modes of operation, political affiliations and reputation in Washington, D.C., and readership, as well as development of specific features such as the op-ed page and political cartoons. There are personal remembrances and career highlights aplenty. The title refers to a remark by illustrious Sun alum H.L. Mencken, 'an important voice in the country's intellectual conversation' who equated reporting to a privileged way of life. Certainly, the description of overseas assignments by foreign correspondent and Pulitzer Prize-finalist Gilbert A. Lewthwaite supports this point of view; he recalls staff receiving 'a royal welcome on their travels... though personal perks did nothing to detract from the serious professional intent.' As with any fraternity, there are favorites and the feared, among them the 'fabled' managing editor Charles H. Dorsey, Jr., a 'lifelong deskman who had 'never been outdoors, ' ' writes reporter Ernest B. Furgurson, who served as the paper's Washington bureau chief from 1975 to 1987. This is an informative exploration of a bygone era in print journalism, and the romantic reminiscences of the hardworking journalists who toiled to fill the Sun's pages will resonate with baby boomers and media study students.--Publishers Weekly
The 27 chapters of this book focus on the 'golden age' of the paper and note its parallels with others suffering the tailspin of the newspaper industry. . . Ernest B. Furgurson, Antero Pietila, David Simon, Kathy Lally, and even the board member W. Shepherdson Abell, provide exceptional insight into the experience of journalists, the operations of the Sunpapers, and the context of their work from different perspectives. . .--CHOICE
The Baltimore Sun has weathered much during its nearly 180-year history - including its 1986 sale to the Times Mirror company, and the shuttering of The Evening Sun in 1995. Through good times and bad, it produced excellent journalism, and this collection of personal essays takes us back to some of those times. Read how TV producer David Simon still can't forget phone numbers he called on the night cops shift, or how Kerelyn Eddings became the Johanesburg bureau chief just as Nelson Mandela was freed from prison. This collection reminds us of the importance of journalism, whether it's to keep watch, make us laugh, or remind us of where we come from.--Baltimore Magazine
The Sunpapers' editorial staff of old has much to say for the value of its craft, be it investigations into local corruption, issues of national security, or projects that made news themselves. This book highlights the 'stuff' that came out of the old Sunpapers and restores it to a level of world significance.--The American Spectator
There is a lot of that colorful atmosphere in this pleasant collection of memories by 27 former editors and reporters of the Baltimore Sun. But even if one has never read the newspaper or spent much time in the town that calls itself 'Charm City, ' this is a book worth reading. It is a cautionary tale of the decline of the American daily newspaper and its once salutary if sometimes abrasive impact on our democracy.--The Washington Times
For a vivid example of what real journalism looks like [read] The Life of Kings, a just-published series of essays by Baltimore Sun reporters, [which] describes what their paper was like before (as has happened at too many other papers) digital advertising gutted newsroom budgets and investment companies bought out more civic-minded owners to fire-sale the wreckage.--Moyers & Company
The book is something of a kaleidoscope, as each chapter turns to a new perspective on the Sun, with some bits carrying through all or most chapters.... The combination of these varied foci--inner workings, primarily personal, and setting--provide a range of ways to get to know the Sun as well as journalism in the mid- to late twentieth century. In this regard, it could be consulted as a research source. For an undergraduate course, it could be a useful supplementary text, providing specific examples of the craft and working conditions of mid-twentieth-century journalism.--American Journalism: A Media History Journal
"If you have any doubt about the necessity of the American newspaper, you must sit down with The Life of Kings. From war to politics, from corruption to the Chesapeake Bay, these essays capture the rawness and the melody of life as recorded by some of the best reporters of our time. Together, they convey the character of one paper, The Baltimore Sun. But they do more than that: they capture the golden era of print journalism and remind us why it's still an essential part of the fabric of this great country. "--Judy Woodruff, The PBS NewsHour
"The Life of Kings is a truly enlightening read, offering us a glimpse of journalism through the eyes of its frontline participants. It's a stellar collection from the reporters and editors who shaped the Baltimore Sun. The essays range from comedy to tragedy, showing us the humanity behind the words that appear on our newsprint - and we are afforded the opportunity to explore that humanity from the inside out, stepping behind the curtain at the Sun to see the inner workings of a generation of journalism's kings (and queens)."--Barry Levinson, Oscar Award-winning writer and film director of Diner, Tin Men, Avalon, and Liberty Heights
"Those who mourn the passing of old-fashioned newspaper journalism will find it at once stirring and deeply melancholy to read The Life of Kings. This really is the way it was, not just at the once-indispensable Sunpapers but in the city rooms and bureaus of papers across the country that played equally essential roles in the lives of the communities they served. Think of this book as a message in a bottle, one that journalists of the future will read with wonder. Yes, such things were possible...once upon a time."--Terry Teachout, author of The Skeptic: A Life of H.L. Mencken
"Rich, entertaining reading for anyone with a stake in journalism's future - which should be all of us."--David Greene, host of NPR's "Morning Edition"