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Voices in Ruins


Palgrave Macmillan, 2008

In the years immediately after the Second World War, when Germany was destroyed, divided and occupied, the radio was the best-preserved and most popular medium of mass communication. Voices in Ruins explores the implications of radio’s dominance at the time by placing it within the longer history of Germany’s mass media to highlight the dynamics of continuity and change after 1945. The book examines not just what was broadcast but how it was broadcast, and argues that the structures of time, space, personality and gender inherent in broadcasting were a key site where ideas of ‘normal’ and ‘exceptional’, ‘public’ and ‘private’, Heimat and Fremde were negotiated. Based around original archive research and a broad interdisciplinary approach, the book will be of interest to scholars in a wide range of disciplines including German Studies, Film and Media Studies, Gender Studies and Memory Studies.

From the Cover:

‘Sophisticated in its theoretical framework and presenting new empirical research, Badenoch’s fascinating study demonstrates the crucial role radio played in rebuilding everyday domestic normality in post-World War II Germany. In this respect, and in negotiating cultural, social, and institutional ruptures as well as continuities, broadcasting became one of the most significant tools in shaping a new sense of national identity after 1945. Badenoch’s work is innovative, stimulating, interdisciplinary – and as inclusive and multigeneric as the medium he discusses.’ – Professor Tim Bergfelder, University of Southampton, UK

‘Rooted in exhaustive archival research, this book provides a first comprehensive English-language overview of the development of West German radio as a mass popular medium in the aftermath of World War II. Compellingly and lucidly written, the book tells a multifaceted story of radio as institution, mass media technology and soundscape of everyday life. Charting the medium’s history across a broad range of fields, this densely-layered and illuminating account is set to become essential reading for scholars of postwar German cultural history, as well as media historians and cultural studies researchers seeking an authoritative history of a medium emerging from the ruins of world war.’ – Professor Erica Carter, King’s College, London, UK

Winner of the 2007-2008 IAMHIST Prize (now the Michael Nelson prize) for the best work in media and history 2007-2008.


‘The Author…has brought together an enormous wealth of material, from manuscript and sound documents, contemporary statements from programmers and interviews, as well as seemingly marginal sources…From these mosiac stones he constucts interconnected themes step-by-step, and so driven by curiosity pursues his main thesis about normality in times of crisis and fragmentation.’ – Hans-Ulrich Wagner, H-Soz-u-Kult

‘Alexander Badenoch has produced a fine study of West German radio in the transition years from Nazism to liberal democracy. For anyone interested in this fascinating and complex period of modern German history, it is essential reading.’  Alan MacDougall, Central European History

‘Badenoch’s comprehensive study of several important facets in this key period in German broadcasting calls upon a wide range of sources, from radio transcripts to the print media, and is a welcome contribution to the field. It is also accessibly written. It will be of value not only to scholars of German studies and historians of postwar Germany – especially to those with an interest in daily life in the immediate postwar period and in the complex operation of tropes of Heimat beyond the typical foci of moving image and print – but also to media studies and cultural studies scholars generally, and to all those who have an interest in what might be at stake when individuals listen to the radio.’ Andrew Wright Hurley, H-German

‘…having read this compact and elegantly written book it seems risky to follow Anderson’s account of nations as modern spatio-temporal experiences, in particular with reference to the twentieth century, without taking radio into account. The study naturally prompts comparisons with the development of East German radio after 1945 and also across time: who, for instance, sought sounds of normality around and after the ruptures of 1989? And what is the function of radio broadcasts in more stable times? These and many other rami cations of Badenoch’s work might inspire historians to connect the history of radio broadcasting more systematically with the history of modern “soundscapes” from a broader perspective and, more importantly, to think about radio not as a mass delivery of information and music, but as aural wallpaper for everyday life in the twentieth century.’  Nina Verheyen, H-German

‘Voices in Ruins demonstrates in sometimes-inventive ways how we may reconstruct that elusive history of radio broadcasting and its audience. For this reason alone, it is well worth tuning in.’  Jennifer Fay, Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television

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