Telegram Modern History as Told Through More than 400

There was a time when the sight of a Western Union delivery boy coming up the walk filled Americans with a sense of excitement or trepidation Between its invention in the mid nineteenth century and its post 1960s relegation to money transfer and congratulations the telegraph served as the primary medium for urgent messages Telegram collects the most poignant and revealing examples of this earliest form of instant communicationOrganized into categories such as Parents and Children Hooray for Hollywood and Lincoln in the Telegraph Office the telegrams range from such moving personal notes as WC Fields's wire to his dying friend John Barry You can't do this to me to political advice such as one voter's telegraphed suggestion to President Herbert Hoover Vote for Roosevelt and make it unanimousThe communication compiled here also provides a novel and engaging perspective on modern history Abraham Lincoln virtually conducted the Civil War over the telegraph wires financial nabobs used them to discuss and fail to predict the stock market crash that precipitated the Great Depression and Japanese diplomats in Washington sent a flurry of encoded telegrams to Tokyo in the weeks leading up to the attack on Pearl HarborThis handsome volume blends history sociology wit and creativity as captured and dispatched by the telegram in its golden age


10 thoughts on “Telegram Modern History as Told Through More than 400 Witty Poignant and Revealing Telegrams

  1. says:

    This book contains some interesting history and clever telegrams but something about the way the book is formatted makes it a frustrating read Rosenkrantz's efforts to contextualize each telegram in a quick paragraph before immediately moving on to contextualize another message sent in a totally different set of historical circumstances creates a jarring effect The second section becomes especially disjointed because Rosenkrantz attempts to touch on dozens of events in modern history presenting only one to three associated telegrams before moving on to the next event Further I often felt that the telegrams provided no additional insight into the historical periods particularly when the author was simply informing the recipient about the events already described in Rosenkrantz's summary Finally it was off putting to move from long sections dedicated chiefly to funny or cheeky messages sent between public figures to sections containing horrifying telegrams sent by Nazis during the Holocaust or describing the chaos and causalities after natural disasters Historical telegrams are an intriguing topic for a book but Rosenkrantz's execution is flawed