Download The Defender: How the Legendary Black Newspaper Changed America; From the Age of the Pullman Porters to the Age of Obama Audiobook

The Defender: How the Legendary Black Newspaper Changed America; From the Age of the Pullman Porters to the Age of Obama Audiobook, by Ethan  Michaeli Extended Sample Click for printable size audiobook cover
Author: Ethan Michaeli Narrator: William Hughes Publisher: Blackstone Publishing Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: July 2016 ISBN: 9781504729963
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Giving voice to the voiceless, the Chicago Defender condemned Jim Crow, catalyzed the Great Migration, and focused the electoral power of black America. Robert S. Abbott founded the Defender in 1905, smuggled hundreds of thousands of copies into the most isolated communities in the segregated South, and was dubbed a “Modern Moses,” becoming one of the first black millionaires in the process. His successor wielded the newspaper’s clout to elect mayors and presidents, including Harry S. Truman and John F. Kennedy, who would have lost in 1960 if not for the Defender’s support. Along the way, its pages were filled with columns by legends like Ida B. Wells, Langston Hughes, and Martin Luther King Jr.

Drawing on dozens of interviews and extensive archival research, Ethan Michaeli constructs a revelatory narrative of race in America from the age of Teddy Roosevelt to the age of Barack Obama and brings to life the reporters who braved lynch mobs and policemen’s clubs to do their jobs.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Conscientiously researched and fluent, The Defender is essentially a record of the African-American struggle in our times.”

    Wall Street Journal

  • “Michaeli’s epic, meticulously detailed account not only reminds its readers that newspapers matter, but so do black lives, past and present.”

    USA Today

  • “An extraordinary history…Deeply researched, elegantly written…A towering achievement that will not be soon forgotten.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “A fascinating account of the legendary black newspaper that spoke truth to power, fought for equality, and made history.”

    Minneapolis Star Tribune

  • “This prodigiously researched work is a testament to the courage of Defender writers through the century, a chronicle of the influence of an important institution—and a sweeping history of black America.”

    National Book Review

  • “Tackles an enormous swath of American history in his thorough, painstaking account of the newspaper’s rise to prominence…Michaeli has obviously put a considerable amount of care into the research and crafting of this important history. A pertinent, well-fashioned American success saga.”

    Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

  • “Engagingly written and copiously sourced, Michaeli’s stimulating read…offers general readers and scholars alike a focused look back at twentieth-century battles against America’s pervasive racism.”

    Library Journal

  • “Narrator William Hughes brings a keen awareness of the importance of this monumental audiobook. His clear and modulated performance works well for this account of the glory days of the Defender, giving listeners a sense of how this preeminent African-American newspaper achieved its fame…This is a remarkable audiobook.”


  • Shortlisted for the 2016 Chicago Review of Books Award
  • A 2016 Amazon Best Books of the Year Selection
  • A New York Times Best Book of 2016
  • A Washington Post Best Book of 2016

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About the Author

Ethan Michaeli is an award-winning author, publisher, and journalist based in Chicago. He was a copyeditor and investigative reporter at the Defender from 1991 to 1996.

About the Narrator

William Hughes is an AudioFile Earphones Award–winning narrator. A professor of political science at Southern Oregon University in Ashland, Oregon, he received his doctorate in American politics from the University of California at Davis. He has done voice-over work for radio and film and is also an accomplished jazz guitarist.