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“Object Lessons is a brilliantly conceived and executed series, and Maggie Messitt's Newspaper is a wonderful addition to its canon.”  

— James Fallows, author, Our Towns: A 100,000-mile Journey into the Heart of America


“This book is an unusual, imaginative braiding together of two countries—the United States and South Africa—and two streams of history: the growth of democracy, and the growth of a probing, vibrant, defiant press. Maggie Messitt has a fine eye for the telling detail, the shocking fact, the unsung hero or heroine.” 

— Adam Hochschild, author, American Midnight: The Great War, a Violent Peace, and Democracy’s Forgotten Crisis


Object Lessons is an essay and book series published by The Atlantic and Bloomsbury about the hidden lives of ordinary things. They’re concise — around 30,000 words — and beautifully designed books.

Newspaper is a 400-year history of a nearly endangered object as seen by journalist Maggie Messitt in the two democratic nations she calls home —  the United States and South Africa. 

The "first draft of history," newspapers have figured prominently through each movement and period of unrest in both nations -- from the first colonial papers published by slave traders and advocates for press freedom to those published on ID cards, wallpaper, and folio sheets during civil wars.

Newspaper reflects on a tool that has been used to both push down and rise up. It brings us inside our best and worst selves, from censorship and the intentional destruction of historic record to the story of an instrument that has been central to democracy and to holding the powerful to account.

Forthcoming May 2024. Pre-order today.


“In these very challenging times all over the world, we need works like those featured in Maggie Messitt’s Newspaper, for they give me and will surely give other readers the hope we all need to keep on keepin’ on!”  

— Charlayne Hunter-Gault, author, My People: Five Decades of Writing About Black Live

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