Inventing American Broadcasting, 1899-1922 / Edition 1

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Such organizations as AT&T, General Electric, and the U.S. Navy played major roles in radio's evolution, but early press coverage may have decisively steered radio in the direction of mass entertainment. Susan J. Douglas reveals the origins of a corporate media system that today dominates the content and form of American communication.

Johns Hopkins University Press

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Editorial Reviews

Washington Post Book World

A superb portrait of the communications revolution that profoundly altered 20th-century life. It will provide fresh insights, and perhaps generate controversy.

Business History Review - Robert B. Horowitz

A successful, at times elegant interdisciplinary work. Douglas combines discussions of technology and of business structure, portraits of inventors and amateurs, and analysis of internal navy organization to construct a convincing narrative on the importance of the 'pre-history' of radio. She draws from an impressive range of contemporary newspapers and technical magazines, government and business reports, and personal correspondence. This is a significant contribution to the understanding of American radio.

Journal of Communication

Fascinating detail... A far clearer picture than has been previously available.

Library Journal
Good history of technology integrates institutional and economic history with biographies and technical events, then assesses these against a backdrop of their social and political milieu. It is cultural history in the broadest sense. The book by Abramson fails to do this: although it presents a massive quantity of research, the arrangement is almost strictly chronological, with no discussion of the impact of technical developments other than on subsequent technical events. Although the book is firmly grounded in the literature, its lack of a nontechnical framework severely limits its usefulness and makes for dull reading. For comprehensive collections only. Douglas's history of early radio is the converse: it assesses technical developments against their social and political background, brings to life important individuals, and clarifies their motives, strengths, and weaknesses. In key chapters, the author discusses the major role played by the press in deciding who would control the airwaves and argues that the Navy was not the positive developmental influence it was once thought to be. A solid work of scholarship, recommended for academic and larger public libraries. Donald J. Marion, Univ. of Minnesota Inst. of Technology Libs., Minneapolis
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Product Details

Meet the Author

Susan J. Douglas is professor in the Department of Communications at the University of Michigan.

Johns Hopkins University Press

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