When Giants Ruled takes the reader behind the scenes of a century of newspaper life. It relates how Benjamin Day, a job printer desperate for more money, started The Sun and inadvertently established the first successful daily for the masses. His main rival was James Gordon Bennett the Elder, whose innovations and success culminated in the most unusual war in journalism: an attempt by rival publishers to halt his efforts to revolutionize the press and to exterminate his Herald.
During the Civil War, with only Lincoln excluded, no person had greater sway upon the nation’s thinking than Horace Greeley. Venom spewed between Bennett and Greeley reached unprecedented heights until Charles Anderson Dana became overlord of Park Row and tangled with the crusading Joseph Pulitzer. Bennett’s eccentric son did not wait for news to happen; he made it. The devastating circulation war between Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst reached a climax with the Spanish- American War. Hearst’s sensationalism remained foremost with the masses until Joseph Patterson produced the most successful tabloid of the twentieth century. An epilogue connects the Park Row era to today’s New York press.