In the troubled years leading up to the Civil War, newspapers in the North and South presented the arguments for and against slavery, debated the right to secede, and disputed the Dred Scott decision, denouncing opposing viewpoints with imagination and vigor. _x000B__x000B_Although it is impossible to determine the precise effect of the newspapers on their readers, there is no question that they took the temperature of their communities and recorded the rising local agitations, unifying opinions, raising alarms, and cementing prejudices. _x000B__x000B_Lorman A. Ratner and Dwight Teeter's Fanatics and Fire-Eaters ably demonstrates the power of a fast-growing media to influence both perception and the course of events.
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