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Death of a Pirate: British Radio and the Making of the Information Age Paperback – 24 Aug 2012


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Death of a Pirate: British Radio and the Making of the Information Age + Radio Caroline: The True Story of the Boat that Rocked + Ship That Rocked the World: How Radio Caroline Defied the Establishment, Launched the British Invasion, & Made the Planet Safe for Rock & Roll
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Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company (24 Aug 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393341801
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393341805
  • Product Dimensions: 2.5 x 14 x 21 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 532,442 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By CWOS on 2 Nov 2010
Format: Hardcover
As the son of Oliver Smedley I have been steeped in the history of the Radio Pirates because my father helped start Radio Atlanta (later Radio Caroline South), because I listened to them and lastly because, when I was aged 15, my father shot Reg Calvert dead and was arrested for murder. But obviously my history was biased!
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 to mid 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 the 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!
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Mervyn O. Hagger on 18 Jan 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I knew Alan Crawford - I went into business with him for a brief period, and I sat in his office in Dean Street which was NOT the same address that the CNBC venture operated out of. The author attempts to link events from CNBC to Atlanta by stating that Crawford found the old CNBC plans, which of course is untrue.

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.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By phil perkins on 18 May 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Unless you worked on the offshore radio stations, you may actually believe a lot of this book. All it is, is a shoddy compilation of much National Archive material that came to life more recently. If you add together the assumptions of MI5, MI6 and (what was) The Post Office (Radio Services) "big brother" monitoring and guessing, this is it. Being just one of those mentioned in this publication, I find it rather silly that Mr Johns could not be bothered to contact many of us who are still alive before propagating so many untruths. I can well understand why this book possibly accelerated the death of the great Mrs Dorothy Calvert. In the same way, I have found it impossible to read the whole book as it is so untruthful and upsetting to encounter lie after lie. Were I able to fully read it, my review would be really bad and my blood pressure would have elevated beyond control. Please go back to the day job, Mr Johns, you are a failure. Buy books from Keith Skies, Dave Cash and other genuine offshore employees if you want real facts - this is just a parallel universe story book.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 10 reviews
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
The Real Story 3 Nov 2010
By CWOS - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
As the son of Oliver Smedley, I have been steeped in the history of the Radio Pirates because my father helped start Radio Atlanta (later Radio Caroline South), because I listened to them and lastly because, when I was aged 15, my father shot Reg Calvert dead and was arrested for murder. But obviously my history was biased!
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!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
The end of one era of pirate radio 8 May 2012
By J. Duffy - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Adrian Johns frames the collapse of one era of Pirate radio in the UK (the sixties era of offshore transmissions) around the death of pirate Reginald Calvert at the hand of rival pirate Oliver Smedley. He boldly suggests that Calvert's death was the result of a misunderstanding between the two adversaries. While Calvert's death may have been the proximate cause of the shutdown of the pirate radio operations, there were greater economic and political forces at work that doomed that era of pirate radio (regardless of Calvert's death) and led to the incorporation of its main innovation -the playing of pop music- into mainline radio broadcasting (i.e., the BBC). Still, a fascinating and well-researched book on the myriad forces at work that led radio pirates to lurk offshore in pursuit of making radio broadcasting a commercial enterprise.
Intellectual history turned bloody 8 Dec 2011
By Rebecca L. Tushnet - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
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 how intellectual history (featuring Coase and Hayek, who both spent time analyzing British radio in particular) becomes political history. Here, changes in British radio listening practices, aided by cheap transistor radios, changed the social meaning of listening and therefore of broadcasting, opening a path for commercial radio. Johns argues that the "moral philosophy of digital libertarianism," though often associated primarily with 1960s American counterculture, also derives from the politics and history of British radio. The idea of offshore data havens, after all, comes from offshore radio pirates (and indeed physically overlaps--Seahaven was a pirate radio station before it was part of a grand, failed data haven scheme). Johns chronicles not just lawlessness, though the violence isn't surprising, but also the deep entanglement with the law that these pirates always had--they created corporate structures and called the police because they wanted and even needed to live in a jurisdiction with a functioning government, even as they wanted to escape those constraints as it suited them. This is Johns's least theory-intensive book, and it sits not quite comfortably between narrative and theory, but I enjoyed it.
Not what I expected or looking for. 3 May 2011
By Colorado Hermit - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition
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. It might be in here somewhere if I can get past all the boring stuff in the first half. Still havent got to it yet. Figured I should write this now before I gave up out of bordom.
Excessive detail obscures the main message 8 Dec 2010
By H. M. Gladney - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A theme of this book is that the history of radio transmission privilege teaches about Internet issues. Another is that media monopolies are pertinent for civil liberties. Both are worth paying attention to.

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.
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