Book Reviews -- Ranks and Columns: Armed Forces Newspapers in American Wars by Alfred Emile Cornebise

Article excerpt

Most of us would be hard pressed to name more than one military newspaper. Some cynics may even regard the phrase as an oxymoron. Either way, this slice of specialized journalism has, to use the cliche, been ignored in the literature of journalism. The exceptions are the occasional pieces about a particular newspaper, or the several books written about the mother of all military newspapers, Stars and Stripes.

The author, a professor emeritus of history at the University of Northern Colorado, sets out to plug this gap. The field is not new to Professor Cornebise. He has written three related books in the last decade on military journalism and combat artists. In his preface, he tells us his intent is to provide an overview of armed forces newspapers, while exploring what these newspapers tell about the lives of citizens in uniform, whether in a time of war or peace. And, the question of a free press in the military context is an inescapable aspect of his study.

The first challenge is establishing "the first" of a kind. Revolutionary War newspapers dealt with battles and the armed forces but were not strictly military publication-that is, written by military personnel for their peers or by civilians for a military audience. Cornebise pounds a landmark in the ground in Parker's Ferry, S.C., where Benjamin Franklin Dunlap published the South Carolina Gazette for American forces in the area. Since then, literally hundreds of newspapers and magazines of this genre have been published, including handwritten newspapers circulated in prison camps. The tradition is well established in the contemporary armed forces. From Germany to Korea and on ships at sea in between, military newspapers roll off presses (or copying machines). …

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