Viewed from the present cultural moment, when gossipy infotainment crowds out fact-based political reporting, Robert Darnton's book on ‘the art of slander’ brings to light an eighteenth-century subculture that, while relatively unknown, is not unfamiliar. Pursuing his previous work, Darnton returns to Grub Street, this shady subculture of London, Paris, and other European cities, a world composed of indigent hack writers and pamphleteers, speculative and unscrupulous publishers, and readers avid for a slanderous, indecent read. This world is significant, however, not for what it prefigures. Its story reveals ‘a great deal about authorship, the book trade, journalism, public opinion, ideology, and revolution in eighteenth-century France’ (p. 1). Darnton's book also illustrates the challenges confronting historians seeking to reconstruct this world and determine its causes.