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Asa Briggs (1921–2016)

Forfatter af A Social History of England

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Om forfatteren

Asa Briggs was born in Keighley, England on May 7, 1921. He received a BA in history and a BSc in economics from Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge in 1941. During World War II, he worked at Bletchley Park, the Buckinghamshire country house devoted to cracking German wartime codes. He taught at vis mere several universities including the London School of Economics; Worcester College, Oxford; Leeds University; the University of Sussex; and Open University. He wrote several non-fiction works including The Age of Improvement, Victorian People, Victorian Cities, Victorian Things, and a five-volume history of British broadcasting. His last two books were the autobiographies entitled Secret Days and Special Relationships. He died on March 15, 2016 at the age of 94. (Bowker Author Biography) vis mindre

Serier

Værker af Asa Briggs

A Social History of England (1980) 514 eksemplarer
The Age of Improvement, 1783-1867 (1959) 296 eksemplarer
Victorian Cities (1963) 271 eksemplarer
Victorian Things (1988) 144 eksemplarer
Modern Europe 1789-1989 (1996) 35 eksemplarer
Chartist Studies (1959) — Redaktør; Bidragyder — 34 eksemplarer
Modern Europe, 1789-Present (2003) 19 eksemplarer
Chartism (Pocket Histories) (1998) 17 eksemplarer
Who's who in the twentieth century (1999) 16 eksemplarer
Essays in Labour History, 1886-1923. (1967) — Redaktør; Introduktion — 11 eksemplarer
The Longman Encyclopaedia (1989) 9 eksemplarer
Essays in labour history (1960) — Redaktør; Bidragyder — 9 eksemplarer
The BBC: The First Fifty Years (1985) 6 eksemplarer
How They Lived: Vol III 1700-1815 (1969) 6 eksemplarer
The Culture of Youth (1960-1973) (1994) 6 eksemplarer
Essays in labour history, 1918-1939 (1977) — Redaktør — 5 eksemplarer
Habitos y Costumbres (2000) — Redaktør — 3 eksemplarer
1851 (1951) 3 eksemplarer
Governing the B. B. C. (1979) 3 eksemplarer
History of Birmingham 2 eksemplarer
History of Birmingham (1952) 2 eksemplarer
The War of Words (1970) 1 eksemplar
Loose Ends and Extras (2014) 1 eksemplar
THEN 1815 1 eksemplar
THEN 1848 1 eksemplar

Associated Works

The Prime Minister (1875) — Introduktion, nogle udgaver1,283 eksemplarer
Selected Writings and Designs (1962) — Redaktør — 118 eksemplarer
Victorian England (1733) — Introduktion — 94 eksemplarer
Fabian Essays in Socialism (1891) — Introduktion, nogle udgaver61 eksemplarer
The Reader's Guide (1960) — Bidragyder — 32 eksemplarer
Albion's People: English Society, 1714-1815 (1992) — Introduktion, nogle udgaver24 eksemplarer
The Chartist Legacy (1999) — Forord — 17 eksemplarer
The Brensham trilogy (1985) — Introduktion, nogle udgaver11 eksemplarer
Founders of the welfare state : a series from New society (1984) — Bidragyder — 6 eksemplarer
The Observer of the Nineteenth Century : 1791-1901 : A Selection (1966) — Introduktion — 3 eksemplarer
Chartism: A New Organization of the People (Victorian Library) (1969) — Introduktion, nogle udgaver3 eksemplarer
The Origins of the Social Services — Bidragyder — 1 eksemplar
Northern history, vol. x, 1975 (1975) — Bidragyder — 1 eksemplar

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When Britons turned on their radios on 1 January 1927, they heard the first day of broadcasting by the newly-formed British Broadcasting Corporation. Yet for most of these listeners the event was far from remarkable. Having taken over from the British Broadcasting Company formed less than five years previously, to people tuning in the new BBC was indistinguishable from the old one, Indeed the most recognizable change was in the title of the organization’s leader, the 37-year-old John Reith, who went from being Managing Director of the old company to Director-General of the new corporation. It was a distinction that was probably lost on the few listeners aware of it.

Nevertheless, the date proved a momentous one in British history. As Asa Briggs demonstrates, the BBC soon became an indelible part of British life, as millions of Britons tuned in daily for the steady stream of music, news and variety shows that the broadcaster offered. His book, the second volume in his series chronicling the history of British broadcasting, describes the pivotal fourteen years that followed this event, during which time many of the policies and practices were established that would make the BBC a national icon and a global institution.

Briggs does this through a thematic approach. Over the course of a half-dozen large chapters, he details the BBC’s programming, their audiences, their organization, their expansion into television broadcasting, and their response to the increasingly fraught international situation at the end of the period covered by the volume. He basis his examination on an unfettered access to the BBC’s archives, which he supplements with published works and interviews with many of the principal figures from the era. As with Briggs’s first volume, the result is an institutional history of the BBC that describes the growth of the organization from a top-down perspective.

The growth of the BBC during this period was nothing short of spectacular. During these years the radio audience expanded dramatically, and with it the demands on programmers to provide them with content. Much of this was guided by Reith, who saw broadcasting as a way of educating and uplifting the population. This resulted in programs of a high intellectual quality, but also opened the door for continental competitors such as Radio Luxembourg and Radio Normandie who served a diet predominantly of light entertainment. Briggs’s examination of these broadcasters is far less thorough than his coverage of the BBC, though, as there is no examination of their internal workings and their content is only mentioned in the most general terms. In some respects this is understandable and probably unavoidable, but it reinforces the sense of the book as less a history of British broadcasting than one of its main broadcaster.

This is reinforced by the comprehensiveness of Briggs’s coverage of BBC operations. While centered in London, regional operations produced their own share of content, while the BBC sought to extend their presence throughout the empire as well. Here the broadcaster found itself treading warily into the increasingly antagonistic environment of international politics, one in which their competition was not commercially-oriented competitors, but the propaganda ministries of such powers as Germany, Italy, and the Soviet Union. After 1935 the BBC found itself increasingly at the forefront of the British effort to counteract their campaigns, which influenced the development of overseas broadcasting operations. In this sense, the BBC found itself in an underfunded conflict against fascism years before Britain declared war against Germany in 1939, one it sought to win through its exemplification of “British” values.

Briggs recounts the history of the BBC during these years sympathetically but not uncritically. Throughout it he manages to convey the pioneering spirit that persisted despite the increasingly bureaucratic nature of the organization. This especially comes through in his thorough coverage of the prewar efforts to introduce television, for which great things were expected before the outbreak of war brought a halt to its broadcasts. Nevertheless, the comprehensiveness of his coverage of the BBC only reinforces the institutional focus of his book, to the detriment of other aspects of the history of broadcasting. Topics such as programming and the radio audience are approached only from this perspective, with almost no attempt to describe the programs themselves or assess what people thought of the BBC beyond newspaper coverage and the nascent listener evaluations. Such efforts are understandably difficult given the dearth of program recordings and other materials, but historians such as Simon Potter have since demonstrated how much more there is to learn about British broadcasting during these years. That these works have been built off of Briggs’s efforts in this book is a testament to its indispensability, yet its enormous value should not obscure the limitations of its focus or how much more there is to be learned about its subject.
… (mere)
 
Markeret
MacDad | Jan 31, 2022 |
The establishment of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) on 1 January 1927 is an event that can be viewed in two ways. Read forwards it serves as the start of a storied history of non-commercial, public-oriented operations by an organization that would become a national institution. Yet this beginning also represented the culmination of an era in British broadcasting, one in which three decades of technological, organizational, and political developments climaxed in the creation of a single body charged with transmitting media to the British Isles. It is this latter perspective which is the focus of the first volume of Asa Briggs’s history of British broadcasting. In it he describes the beginning of the broadcasting industry in Great Britain and how it evolved into a public institution created to provide news and entertainment for the listening population.

One of Briggs’s achievements is to convey the sense of adventure that drove the development of broadcast technology. While the use of electromagnetic waves for communication was theorized by James Clerk-Maxwell as early as 1864, Briggs dates the beginning of broadcasting history in Britain to the first wireless patent filed by Guglielmo Marconi in 1896. Initially used as a form of communication, wireless technology advanced rapidly in the years prior to the First World War as new innovations made it possible to receive radio waves at ever-greater distances than before. War provided further stimulus, as governments poured money into the wireless industry in their efforts to employ the militarily useful technology in order to achieve victory.

As a result, by the end of the war Britain possessed both a well-developed wireless industry and a much larger pool of people experienced with the technology. Nor were they alone, as enthusiasts in the United States also explored the possible applications of radio. America soon took the lead, with the establishment of the first broadcasting stations in 1920 heralding the start of a chaotic “radio boom” that served as a negative example for Britons who crossed the Atlantic to study the American example. With the Marconi Company and numerous amateurs increasingly clogging Britain’s airwaves with experimental broadcasts, the British government sought to impose some sort of order before things got too far out of hand.

The result was the formation in 1922 of the British Broadcasting Company. Created by a consortium of wireless equipment manufacturers and licensed by the Post Office, the new organization possessed a monopoly on broadcasting in the United Kingdom. Unlike the commercially-funded example of American broadcasting, the new company received the majority of its revenue from a licensing fee charged to radio owners. Raising and managing this fee was just one of the many difficulties facing the new organization, as its managers had to provide content in the face of opposition from typically hostile news organizations and entertainment providers, both of which feared losing business to the new medium. Briggs emphasizes the pioneering nature of these efforts, as many of the approaches that would become indelibly associated with British broadcasting were established during this period, often without any prior examples to serve as a guide. Their success was reflected by the rapid growth of wireless listening during this period, as well as the interest expressed by other nations in emulating the British example. Yet the company’s managing director, John Reith, was convinced that such an important service should be both a public institution and independent of direct government control. With the wireless companies keen to divest themselves of the expensive business of broadcasting and the power of broadcasting demonstrated during the 1926 General Strike, the government agreed to legislation which would transform the British Broadcasting Company into a Crown-chartered corporation serving the national interest.

Briggs bases his history of British broadcasting primarily on the BBC’s voluminous archives, which he supplements with contemporary accounts and other government records. This is both the book’s greatest strength and its primary flaw, for while this provides for a comprehensive account of broadcasting in Britain it makes the book first and foremost an institutional history of the formation of the BBC. Its chapters are filled with detailed coverage of the laborious process by which the broadcasting organization evolved into the public corporation with which the world is familiar today, which frequently crowds out descriptions of the content broadcast or its reception by its audience and leaves out altogether any consideration of the broader impact of broadcasting on the country during this period. It makes for a book that can often be frustratingly narrow in its focus, though one that remains the cornerstone for any understanding of the history of the BBC or of broadcasting in Britain more generally.
… (mere)
 
Markeret
MacDad | Oct 8, 2021 |
changes in English society from prehistory to 1980s
 
Markeret
ritaer | 3 andre anmeldelser | May 3, 2021 |
History textbooks are almost always group efforts, as specialists are tapped to present what represents the current thinking about their respective eras of specialization. So for a publisher producing a textbook on 19th and 20th century Europe, Asa Briggs and Patricia Clavin are good choices. A leading historian of 19th century Britain, Briggs was a pioneer of social history, while Patricia Clavin has written excellent monographs on interwar Europe that adopt a continent-wide perspective. And their resulting work offers a good overview of European history form the French Revolution to the start of the 21st century. Yet their very prominence makes the book's flaws so frustrating.

Foremost among them is the text's dominant focus on political history. This is especially surprising for a book co-written by Briggs, given his many excellent works on Victorian society. Yet chapter after chapter concentrates on relating political developments, often with little in the way of analysis explaining their significance. While other aspects of European history are addressed, these parts are crammed into chapters which cover important issues in a spare sentence or two.

This in itself limits the book's value, yet it is further undermined by the sheer sloppiness of the text. For a book in its second edition there are a surprisingly large number of basic factual errors, from the misattribution of a famous malapropism to stating that OPEC stands for "Organisation of Oil Producing Countries." A third edition could address this problem, but the lack of one points to the increasing datedness of a book purporting to survey European history to the "present." The authors' final chapters are practically begging for revision in light of the events that have taken place since then, though with each passing year the prospects for one dim further still.

Taken in combination, these flaws limit what is otherwise a useful survey of two centuries of European history. While it can still be read by profitably for anyone seeking to understand the political evolution of Europe from absolutism to the early years of the EU, readers desiring a more comprehensive account of modern Europe would be better off looking elsewhere.
… (mere)
 
Markeret
MacDad | Mar 27, 2020 |

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