It's been called the first Internet. In the nineteenth century, the telegraph spun a world wide web of cables and poles, carrying electronic signals with unprecedented speed. In order to connect the entire American continent, however, the telegraph had to cross western territory, which brought a host of challenges, conflicts, and uncertainties. What happened when the telegraph crossed the Mississippi River? What natural obstacles had to be overcome? What role did the telegraph play in the displacement of native tribes? James Schwoch
answers these questions in Wired into Nature: The Telegraph and the North American Frontier
(University of Illinois Press, 2018). Schwoch is a professor of communication studies at Northwestern University. He is also the author of The American Radio Industry and Its Latin American Activities, 1900-1939
and Global TV: New Media and the Cold War, 1946–69
, both also published by University of Illinois Press.
Nathan Bierma is a writer, instructional designer, and voiceover talent in Grand Rapids, Michigan. His website is www.nathanbierma.com.