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"On the Short Waves, 1923-1945"

Reviewed by William E. Denk, W3IGU, Book Review Editor, The Old Timer's Bulletin, Official Journal of the Antique Wireless Association, Inc. This review is from the August 1999 edition (Vol. 40, No. 3) of the OTB.

Author Jerry Berg, an AWA member, is an attorney who serves on the Executive Council of the North American Shortwave Association, and chairs the Committee to Preserve Radio Verifications. In this book you'll find an excellent history of the pioneer days of shortwave broadcasting, from the early concepts of Marconi through the golden era of the 1930s, and finally through World War II and radio's role as news source and propaganda tool.

This profusely illustrated, well written book vividly brought back to this reviewer his own introduction to short-wave listening with a Crosley multi-band radio of 1934 vintage. One remembers the thrill of DXing, and the unease with which one listened to the gathering storm of WW II as clearly forecast in the transmissions from London and Berlin.

Berg covers his topic in three sections: the early pre-1930 days; the coming of age of shortwave broadcasting in the 1930s, with its many popular magazines devoted to the hobby; and finally the war years 1940-1945.

Referring to the latter period, Berg devotes several pages to "Shortwave Traitors"--nationals of Allied countries who broadcast to their fellow countrymen on behalf of enemy powers. Included was "Lord Haw Haw," a British citizen who moved to Berlin where he was put in charge of Germany's radio war against England and, later, against the United States. The British government executed him in 1946. "Tokyo Rose" was evidently a generic name applied to a number of English-speaking women heard in Pacific regions in the 1940s.

One of the many popular magazines of this era was Hugo Gernsback's "Short Wave Craft," which sought to provide its readers with reliable information on the operation of the shortwave stations of the world. Page 168 of Berg's book reproduces a page from Gernsback's June 1934 issue illustrating the magazine's silver-plated "Trophy Cup." The cup was presented monthly to the reader who contributed to the "advancement of the art of radio" by logging the largest number of shortwave broadcast stations in a 30-day period. Astonishingly, your reviewer's wife acquired one of these trophy cups, silver plating still intact, at a local flea market some years ago. This one had been awarded to Oliver Amlie, whose name is mentioned on page 169 of Berg's book!