This is a terrific resource for history buffs. You can follow news stories as they happened, look up front pages for the day you were born, the days your parents and grandparents were born, and so on. What's great about following consecutive front pages is that you can follow not only the major stories day to day, but also the slightly less important stories that were unfolding simultaneously.
Three DVDs contain all (well, not all -- see below) front pages since the Times began publishing in September 1851. The pages are all in PDF format (one PDF file per month), so if you have Acrobat Reader on your computer, as most people do, you don't need to install any special software.
The product isn't perfect, though.
One: there are missing front pages. In fact, I've had the product for just two days and I've already found two entire months missing: May 1926 and September 1994. If you click on those months, you see the pages for the wrong year. I also saw that the front page for June 17, 1971, is missing -- which was at the height of the Pentagon Papers crisis, a very important period for the Times! It makes me wonder what else might be missing. I hope the publishers will issue replacement DVDs or a downloadable patch to fix the various errors.
Two: for some reason, many PDF files have days out of order. This is not a problem if you click on the date for an individual page, but if you want to use the arrow keys or your mouse's scroll wheel to scroll through consecutive days' pages, you can't always do that. Sometimes the first page in the file is for, say, the 19th day of the month, and then later the file skips from day 18 to another day. It would have been better if they had put all pages in correct chronological order in each month's file.
Three: when you click on the masthead of a front page, it's supposed to take you to the Times website and bring up a list of front page articles for that day. But sometimes when you click on a masthead it brings you to the wrong day's articles.
Four: the text of the articles is blurry and not always easy to read, no matter how much you magnify the text. This is odd, because the PDFs of the exact same articles on the Times website are much clearer and easier to read. It's not a problem on the front pages that are in color (the Times front page has been in color since October 16, 1997). Those are much clearer.
As for the book that accompanies the DVDs -- it's terrific. It includes important front pages over the last 150 years, including full-size foldouts of the following events:
* Lee's surrender at Appomattox
* Lincoln assassination
* San Francisco earthquake of 1906
* Titanic sinks
* Russian czar abdicates
* World War I armistice
* Scopes trial
* Lindbergh's flight
* 1929 stock market crash
* FDR inaugurated
* Pearl Harbor
* Brown v. Board of Education
* 1963 March on Washington
* Kennedy assassination
* Moon landing
* Nixon resigns
* War in Iraq begins
Despite the missing page files, this is still a great product at a great price. Hopefully they'll take steps to fix the problems for those of us who have already bought the product.
I've had this book/DVD set for several days, and debated between rating it 3 stars and 4 stars. I would have gone 3 1/2 if given the option. If I had the choice to buy it again I would do so in a heartbeat despite some errors and limitations.
The big plus with this set is it contains NEARLY all the front pages ever published. I say nearly, because in just a few days I noticed some days are missing. In searching through the Lindbergh baby kidnapping in March 1932 I noticed a couple of missing dates, and also in April 1932. Since I've only checked a few hundred pages, I've got to think there are other missing pages. Another BIG problem is many of the pages are very difficult to read, as one of the other reviewers has already pointed out. Many pages are also not in the correct order for the month. I have saved copies of some front pages from another source on the web, and the pages are much clearer than many of these reproductions (scanned copies).
The printed book is done very well, although why they didn't include the Titanic sinking is beyond me.
The New York Times has been one of the top resources for news for more than 150 years. Despite its recent economic and editorial woes, and despite what some claim to be the declining importance of actual newspapers, I remain a firm believer in the value of daily physically printed newspapers. There is real value in having news gathered and printed on a daily basis by organizations of professional journalists. Not only do they inform the public in a more coherent way than the random impressions vibrating from the Web, they also provide a lasting record of what happened on a given day and what was thought about those events at the time they happened. You cannot rely on what we think of past events today as connected in any way to how events were regarded by those who lived them. I am very saddened to see the way the role of our daily newspapers are being diminished and am troubled that young people are not picking up the habit of reading daily newspapers in their printed form.
This lavish edition rewards its readers in several ways. First the print edition provides more than 300 important front pages of key historical events (the Emancipation Proclamation, Pearl Harbor, Oswald being shot, to name just three). While all are given at least full page printing in this very large format book, some are given a heavy stock foldout that shows the page in a more true to life format. The book also includes a plastic sheet magnifier that makes reading even the smallest print on the page much easier for those of us with less than perfect visual acuity. The book also has periodic sections that provide important photos, editorial cartoons, and mini-essays that explain the selection of the images and why they help us better understand that period in history. When the times introduced color images, the book also switches to color printing (better quality than you get in the paper).
The book also provides three DVDs with all 54,000 plus front pages that have been printed by the New York Times since its inception through 2008 (except for the periods the Times was on strike, obviously). If you are a subscriber to the times, you also can use links from these DVDs to get to the full articles in every one of these papers. However, if you don't subscribe, you have access but it is limited in period and by volume. There is a coupon for getting a subscription to the Times at 50% off for 26 weeks. If you think about it, that discount more than pays for the book (if you want the subscription to the paper).
This book is remarkable and can help you in many ways from satisfying idle curiosity through digging pretty seriously into what the Times had to say about important events for the past century and a half.
Reviewed by Craig Matteson, Ann Arbor, MI
I bought this book and 3 dvd combination hoping that it would be completely thorough. Unfortunately, after using it for less than an hour, I've already found many months that are missing. Worse, I've found that certain months are mis-indexed. August 1977 actually pulls up December 1977. So the entire month of August 1977 is missing as well.
This DVD set goes until April 1, 2008. It does NOT go to November 1, 2008, which corresponds to the publication date.
The positive note, is that the months that *are* there are perfect. I just wish the publisher did some fact checking. Also, they are in PDF format without any security so you can export them as JPGs. I bought this to create a photobook for my baby, so I could have the NY Times front page on her date of birth. Much more economical than buying the front page print version from [...]
The [...] and publisher anticipate releasing a new set of DVDs with corrections in Feb/Mar. I'm sure the publisher will make a generalized announcement. [...]
**UPDATE (~March 2009)**
Received a new set of DVDs that fixed the errors. This is purrrfect. 5*****
D. L. Thompson
I returned the book since the readability of the pages was near impossible. Including a little plastic magnifying "glass" was a joke. The disks crashed my computers (HP Pavilions). All in all the expectations were great but the product was very disappointing.