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Publisher's Summary

Giving voice to the voiceless, the Chicago Defender condemned Jim Crow, catalyzed the Great Migration, and focused the electoral power of black America. Robert S. Abbott founded the Defender in 1905, smuggled hundreds of thousands of copies into the most isolated communities in the segregated South, and was dubbed a "Modern Moses", becoming one of the first black millionaires in the process. His successor wielded the newspaper's clout to elect mayors and presidents, including Harry S. Truman and John F. Kennedy, who would have lost in 1960 if not for the Defender's support. Along the way, its pages were filled with columns by legends like Ida B. Wells, Langston Hughes, and Martin Luther King Jr.
Drawing on dozens of interviews and extensive archival research, Ethan Michaeli constructs a revelatory narrative of race in America from the age of Teddy Roosevelt to the age of Barack Obama, and brings to life the reporters who braved lynch mobs and policemen's clubs to do their jobs.
©2016 Ethan Michaeli (P)2016 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
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Customer Reviews

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5 out of 5 stars
By Dustin Kelley on 11-03-17

The Defender Gets The Biography It Deserves

Ethan Michaeli gives the Chicago Defender the biography it deserves. Well-written and definitive, this book chronicles the founding by Robert Abbott and it's rise to prominence in American-American communities throughout the country. Abbott used his platform to encourage the Great Migration, becoming "Black Moses" in the process. The Defender pushed for the desegregation of the military and was part of the process in switching the African-American electorate from Republican to Democrat.

I had previously read Isabel Wilkerson's The Warmth of Other Suns and this coincides nicely. I highly recommend, despite a few glitches (e.g. Harry Truman was part of the Kansas City machine, not St. Louis, etc.). I also wished Michaeli would have spent more time covering the 1980s-2000's. Seemed rushed in comparison to the pace of the first 80%. Again, highly recommend...

Especially wonderful narration by William Hughes. I'll be aiming to listen to him in the future.

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5 out of 5 stars
By Renee on 03-24-17


A walk through a very important part of African American history. A must read for any student of history.

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