PRINT November 2016


Charles Musser’s Politicking and Emergent Media

Madison Square on election night, New York, November 6, 1888 (Harper’s Weekly, November 17, 1888).

Charles Musser, Politicking and Emergent Media: US Presidential Elections of the 1890s. Oakland, CA: University of California Press, 2016. 288 pages.

EVERY FOUR YEARS, the world gets hooked on two competitive extravaganzas—the Summer Olympic Games and the US presidential elections. The similarities are obvious; in fact, the only real difference is size. The elections take place on a larger scale: They go on for longer, their two displays of stadium-based pageantry last a week rather than a night, they are even more dominated by Americans, and their television coverage is even more dismal. In 2016, Russia has emerged as an even more suspect player in the US election campaign than in track and field, and the physical constitution of those running for office appears to be of even greater concern than the health of those merely running for medals. And who can deny that the political

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