New book uses newspapers to chronicle American RevolutionWritten by James A. Molnar | The Gold Knight | email@example.com
Todd Andrlik became a newspaper collector by chance.
It happened at a bookstore in Galena, Ill., where he came across a copy of an old newspaper declaring President Abraham Lincoln dead.“I was reading the first draft of history about the assassination of Abraham Lincoln and the reward for the capture of his conspirators,” Andrlik said. “It triggered in me this intense passion and enthusiasm in history that I previously hadn’t had.”
From there, Andrlik said he went around the country searching for old newspapers and found many from 18th-century colonial America.
These newspapers inspired Andrlik, a marketing-media professional by day, to write his first book, “Reporting the Revolutionary War: Before It Was History, It Was News.”
“For the next five years, I began collecting newspapers that were discovered in attics and found behind walls and in trash and salvaged those that had been damaged,” he said in a phone interview with Toledo Free Press.
After five years, Andrlik said he had “compiled one of the most significant private collections of American Revolution newspapers.”
Many of those newspapers, published between 1763-83, are printed in full color throughout the 400-page book.
“Having a full color reproduction laid out,” Andrlik said, “you are transported back in time and feel like you are reading over the shoulders of George Washington and Paul Revere and experiencing the revolution as it happened.”
There is a guide at the beginning of the book with tips about reading revolutionary newspapers.
Readers are cautioned to be wary of perspective, bias, propaganda, credibility, grammar, humor and sarcasm, irony and context.
To help with historical context and analysis, Andrlik said he employed 37 historians and experts of the era, “so they call foul on the errors and omissions so that the reader knows exactly what’s fact and what’s fiction.”
“They serve as a conduit between the 18th and 21st centuries,” he said.
These historians provide introductions and context throughout the book’s 13 chapters.
Each newspaper has highlighted portions for readers to quickly find the important passages.
“You get to kind of wander around and become the historian, and follow the storylines and interests you have,” Andrlik said.
The importance of these newspapers is also highlighted in the book.
“Many historians are on record as saying that without newspapers, there would have been no American Revolution,” Andrlik said.
The papers were the social media of their day, much in the way that social media today has incited and helped to organize revolutions, such as those in the Middle East, Andrlik said.
“It’s strikingly similar to what happened 200-plus years ago when newspapers were the only media of the day.”
For last minute gift ideas, Andrlik said “Reporting the Revolutionary War” is the perfect book and not just for the history buffs.
“This book transcends normal history circles and would appeal to anybody who appreciates a good story with great characters, great plot and the perfect climax,” he said.
While book writing may not become his full-time job, Andrlik said he would continue collecting and reading colonial newspapers.
“So some people like to read a book a week,” he said. “I like to read a few newspapers a week — from the 18th century.”
About 100 newspapers from his collection are housed in Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. Andrlik said he plans on making more of his collection available to the public via his website, raglinen.com.
Some electronic versions of the book are enhanced with videos and other features, Andrlik said. For more information and supplementary material for “Reporting the Revolutionary War,” visit beforehistory.com.