An appropriately large-scale account of the media giant at the very heart of British life.



A comprehensive biography of the British Broadcasting Corporation, “the embodiment of public service broadcasting, a template to emulate.”

Hendy, a professor of media and communication and former BBC producer, offers both a history of the institution and its key personnel and an assessment of its difficulties and successes living up to its self-professed mission "to inform, educate and entertain.” The author offers his personal “version of the BBC story, not an officially approved one”—but one bolstered by “several years of invaluable help from the BBC accessing and navigating my way through its archival treasures.” Hendy begins with the founders—Cecil Lewis, John Reith, and Arthur Burrows—and its initial incarnation as a radio company in 1922. Early on, the author points out that although the BBC is not a government-run entity, it exists only by Royal Charter, funded by a license fee set by Parliament. Its history is inextricably woven into the fabric of 20th-century Britain: the 1926 General Strike, when the BBC averted a real threat of government takeover; the close collaboration with the World War II–era government, which included the sending of coded messages during broadcasts; an eyewitness account of the direct hit on its home in Broadcasting House during the Blitz; the robust patronage of the new medium, TV; and its ever increasing role as a truly global institution. Hendy ably dissects the BBC's approach to popular entertainment and the arts without sparing due criticism. In 1975, for example, reporter Mike Phillips argued that the BBC “failed accurately to reflect the lives, problems and aspirations of immigrant minorities.” Throughout, the author offers brief profiles of numerous outsize personalities across the media, politics, and the arts. He also meticulously lays out the many attempts, by both Conservative and Labour governments and by rival media, to derail the BBC's editorial independence—e.g., during the Suez Crisis and the Falklands War. Much of this history has been told before but never in such well-researched depth and sparkling detail.

An appropriately large-scale account of the media giant at the very heart of British life.

Pub Date: March 29, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-61039-704-9

Page Count: 656

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2022

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.



Rootin’-tootin’ history of the dry-gulchers, horn-swogglers, and outright killers who populated the Wild West’s wildest city in the late 19th century.

The stories of Wyatt Earp and company, the shootout at the O.K. Corral, and Geronimo and the Apache Wars are all well known. Clavin, who has written books on Dodge City and Wild Bill Hickok, delivers a solid narrative that usefully links significant events—making allies of white enemies, for instance, in facing down the Apache threat, rustling from Mexico, and other ethnically charged circumstances. The author is a touch revisionist, in the modern fashion, in noting that the Earps and Clantons weren’t as bloodthirsty as popular culture has made them out to be. For example, Wyatt and Bat Masterson “took the ‘peace’ in peace officer literally and knew that the way to tame the notorious town was not to outkill the bad guys but to intimidate them, sometimes with the help of a gun barrel to the skull.” Indeed, while some of the Clantons and some of the Earps died violently, most—Wyatt, Bat, Doc Holliday—died of cancer and other ailments, if only a few of old age. Clavin complicates the story by reminding readers that the Earps weren’t really the law in Tombstone and sometimes fell on the other side of the line and that the ordinary citizens of Tombstone and other famed Western venues valued order and peace and weren’t particularly keen on gunfighters and their mischief. Still, updating the old notion that the Earp myth is the American Iliad, the author is at his best when he delineates those fraught spasms of violence. “It is never a good sign for law-abiding citizens,” he writes at one high point, “to see Johnny Ringo rush into town, both him and his horse all in a lather.” Indeed not, even if Ringo wound up killing himself and law-abiding Tombstone faded into obscurity when the silver played out.

Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-21458-4

Page Count: 400

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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