Voice of America: A History / Edition 1

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Overview

The Voice of America is the nation's largest publicly funded broadcasting network, reaching more than 90 million people worldwide in over forty languages. Since it first went on the air as a regional wartime enterprise in February 1942, VOA has undergone a spectacular transformation, and it now employs scores of reporters worldwide and broadcasts around the clock every day of every year, reaching listeners in the four-fifths of the world still denied a completely free press. Alan L. Heil, Jr., former deputy director of VOA, chronicles this remarkable transformation from a fledgling short wave propaganda organ during World War II to a global multimedia giant encompassing radio, the Internet, and 1,500 affiliated radio and television stations across the globe.

Using transcripts of radio broadcasts and numerous personal anecdotes, Heil gives the reader a front-row seat to the greatest events of the past sixty years, from the Cold War and the Vietnam conflict to the Watergate and Lewinsky scandals, from Neil Armstrong's first steps on the moon in 1969 to ethnic strife in the Balkans and Rwanda in the mid-1990s, and from the outbreak of HIV/AIDS in the 1980s to the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. Yet Heil also relates the story of a perennially underfunded organization struggling against the political pressures, congressional investigations, massive reorganizations, and leadership purges that have attempted to shape-and, in some instances, control-VOA programming. Reporting first hand, high-quality news is a monumental task for any network, but the Voice faces obstacles unique to an organization that stands, as former director John Chancellor once observed, at "the crossroads of journalism and diplomacy." It is for this reason that many people still perceive VOA as an instrument of American propaganda. However, as a thirty-six-year veteran of VOA and its numerous policy wars, Heil believes that the Voice has always sought to deliver accurate, objective, and comprehensive news of the highest journalistic standard, news that reflects America's diversity and dynamism, and that presents not only U.S. policies but also critical debate about those policies.

This in-depth history of VOA from its founding until its sixtieth anniversary is a vivid portrait of the people who made it great, depicting a news network that has overcome enormous challenges to steadfastly and faithfully report the most important news stories of our time.

Columbia University Press

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Editorial Reviews

Jhistory, H-Net - John Jenks

Voice of America is an important contribution to the history of international broadcasting and a well-written potpourri of interesting information.

International Affairs
The breadth and scope of this book mean it is essential reading for all those involved—or with an interest—in public diplomacy, international affairs and the media.

— Morand Fachot

American Journalism

Well worth a place in the library of every instructor of the history of America media.

Foreign Service Journal - Steven Alan Honley

Voice of America: A History, the first comprehensive history of hte VOA since the mid-1980s,... is a valuable account that deserve a wide readership, both within the Foreign Service and among the general public.

Post Intelligencer - Seattle Times
Voice of America: A History effectively chronicles an important corner of American cultural history.
Mediterranean Quarterly - Walter R. Roberts

Heil's book is a must read for anyone who is interested in enhancing America's standing in the world.

DIFFUSION online - Morand Fachot

The breadth and scope of this book mean it is essential reading for all those involved--or with an interest--in public diplomacy, international affairs and the media.

Register of the Kentucky Historical Society - Laura A. Belmont

Anyone looking for a richer understanding of recent international information activities will find this work worthwhile.

Walter Cronkite

Here is the inside story of one of our most important government services, a history of an organization known to millions of people around the globe but to only a handful of Americans. Heil's book celebrates this nation's dedication to the practical application of its democratic foundations—our freedom of speech and press.

Foreign Service Journal

[Heil's] familiarity with both the nitty-gritty and the larger issues surrounding "the Voice," as the VOA is commonly known, does much to make the story come alive, as do the anecdotes and transcripts of radio broadcasts he intersperses throughout the narrative... this is a valuable account that deserves a wide readership.

The Economist

For those wondering why, in the presence of global commercial news networks, there is still a need for the Voice of America.... Heil's comprehensive history of America's largest publicly funded overseas broadcasting network surely provides a most comprehensive answer.

Seattle Times/Post Intelligencer

Voice of America: A History effectively chronicles an important corner of American cultural history.

Mediterranean Quarterly
Heil's book is a must read for anyone who is interested in enhancing America's standing in the world.

— Walter R. Roberts

DIFFUSION online
Heil, who spent 36 years at the Voice, was uniquely placed to write Voice of America: A History, a comprehensive and captivating insight... stretching from the launch of the service in February 1942 to its 60th anniversary.

— Morand Fachot

Register of the Kentucky Historical Society
Anyone looking for a richer understanding of recent international information activities will find this work worthwhile.

— Laura A. Belmont

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780231126755
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press
  • Publication date: 6/20/2006
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 544
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Alan L. Heil Jr. worked for the Voice of America from 1962 until he retired in 1998. He held various positions at VOA, including foreign correspondent, chief of news and current affairs, and deputy director.

Columbia University Press

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Table of Contents

Tiananmen: The Burden of TruthThe Struggle to Get It Straight: The Early YearsThe 50s and 60s: Forging a More Credible VoiceThe VOA Correspondent: To the Ends of the EarthFrom Here to Everywhere: Building a Global NetworkInto the Citadel of "Ramshackle Excellence"The Struggle to Get It Straight: The Charter as LawThe Independence Debate: Up to the Brink and BackThe Tumultuous 80s: A Lost Horizon RegainedThe Epochal Years: 1969 and 1989Out of Africa: The Triumph of Straight TalkOn Language: Words and Their StoriesMusic: The Universal LanguageTo the Roof of the World: The Tibetan Service MiracleMiddle East Flashbacks: VOA and the Wars of '67 and '91Into the 90s: The Brave New World of MultimediaThe Struggle to Get It Straight: Independence at the New MillenniumAmerica's Voice: A Voice for the VoicelessYearning to Breathe Free: Tales of Great VOA EscapesThe Struggle Goes On: VOA at the Dawn of the 21st CenturyEpilogue

Columbia University Press

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