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Death of a Pirate: British Radio and the Making of the Information Age Hardcover – November 8, 2010
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“A well-written tale about those buccaneers of the high C’s.” — The Economist
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Top Customer Reviews
Adrian Johns has researched the story of Radio Caroline and the other stations and the killing of Reg Calvert with great diligence. He has written an excellent and exciting book which will bring back the days of pop radio in the early 1960's to those of my generation as well as inform all readers of the dramatic impact the Radio Pirates had on broadcasting and the media. I have learnt a lot from the book; the history of these pirates is fascinating. 'Death of a Pirate' really is the real story of the Radio Pirates, the development of British broadcasting and the shooting of Reg Calvert, not only that, it's a great read!
However, excessive detail about the personalities and wrangles of otherwise-forgotten British entrepreneurs makes it unnecessarily difficult for readers to discern and judge the arguments for and against central control of media and bandwidth. Had the book been 80% as long as it is, it would have been much better.
Crawford's plans came from McLendon. The author also tries to explain the "Rosebud" and "Atlanta" names by suggesting that they were the work of Smedley and Crawford. However, the real story begins with Gordon McLendon of Dallas who was both a movie maverick (hence "Rosebud" from 'Citizen Kane') and proud of his Atlanta, Texas roots that began his broadcasting career.
The originator of 'Radio Atlanta' was Gordon McLendon and it was to have been funded (like GBLN before it), by Herbert W. Armstrong. Then Atlanta merged with Jocelyn Stevens' 'Radio Caroline' (named after the 'Caroline' stylesheet for 'Queen' magazine by Editor B. Miller), and it was decided to steer clear of both politics and religion since the original 'Radio Caroline' plan was aimed at trying to overturn the 'Pilkington Report' with its finding against commercial radio. That was not the original plan for 'Radio Atlanta'. Armstrong had to wait for the arrival of Don Pierson's 'Wonderful Radio London' before he was able to expand to 7 days a week beyond the Mondays and Tuesdays schedule over Radio Luxembourg.
This book is really a pick-up from the earlier Chapman work (the author admits this in his previous work on copyrights and piracy that begat the present work - which I also bought and have read. It is also an academic work, unlike the present book.) This book is also a trek with historian Coase who wrote about the BBC and ended up in Chicago.Read more ›
Johns tell three stories in "Death of a Pirate": the birth and development of the British Broadcasting Company (later Corporation) and its battle against those who wanted to open the airwaves to commercial stations on the U.S. model; the creation of and competition between the pirate radio stations in the 1960s and the British government's rather insipid and generally ineffective campaign to quash the stations; and the partnership and rivalry between two pirates, Oliver Smedley and Reg Calvert that resulted in the fatal shooting of Calvert by Smedley.
Each story is interesting in its own right.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I originally ordered this book after reading an article on the Principality of Sealand. After reading an exciting piece which referenced the book, I expected interesting stories... Read morePublished on August 10, 2012 by Kindle Customer
Johns has an abiding interest in "piracy," broadly defined. This book, though opening with a violent death in a dispute between pirate radio entrepreneurs in 1966, is really about... Read morePublished on December 8, 2011 by Rebecca L. Tushnet
Boring dull detailed history of British radio starting in the 1920's. I was looking for the book version of the British movie Pirate Radio. Read morePublished on May 3, 2011 by COLORADO HERMIT
"Death of a Pirate" is on the ROROTOKO list of cutting-edge intellectual nonfiction. The book interview of Professor Johns ran here as the cover feature on December 8, 2010.Published on January 23, 2011 by ROROTOKO