on 25 August 2013
How to sum up this series on broadcasting (very largely the BBC)-- a quasi-official work by Asa Briggs, ranking social historian and onetime VC of Sussex University?
Thorough: it covers organisation, technical progress, programming, relevant govt legislation and leadership. Religious programming, the fate of Logie Baird's TV technology after BBC TV started up, the BBC as wartime proagandist, 1930s dance-bands, and the public's listening tastes, all get a look-in. Each book is a solid 3-inch-thick illustrated hardback, well supplied with academic references and bibligraphy.
I have the whole set and have read them from cover to cover, and not without interest, but end up saying "rather dull". What was Sir John Reith like as a person and what made him tick? We don't really find out. At what points in the 39-45 war was the BBC actually crucial, and how? The technological accounts tend to fall between the 2 stools of scientific accuracy and readibility. And even on the sociology more insights, backed by better quotations, would have helped. A chain of anecdotes wouldn't rank as social or institutional history, but the few Briggs provides are dull.
3 stars is perhaps mean--for comprehensiveness and clarity the books are worth 4--but nothing tempts me to give the full 5.
Worth buying by all means, but don't expect to be excited!