Friday, November 14, 2008

We Interrupt this Broadcast

We Interrupt this Broadcast is less a book than it is a multimedia package. Consisting of three CDs and a companion book, it provides the initial press reaction to key, generally tragic, events starting with the Hindenburg disaster and ending with the Virginia Tech Massacre. Most of these events fall into the remember-where-you-were-when-you-heard it category. For some this is about revisiting. For other , the events will come from before their media memories and it provides a insight into what it was like to experience something now historical.

Some of the audio files are fairly well known, I for one have heard the "oh the humanity" radio broadcast of the Hindenburg a few times already and the announcement of the death of the Israeli athletes at Munich was revisited in the Spielberg film. Many others were shocking. The assassination of Robert F Kennedy was on air and you can hear the shots in the background. It makes for terrifying listening.

While some manage to capture the event itself, other of the clips focus on the reaction. Living on the West Coast, I missed the disbelieving initial reactions to the 9/11 attacks. By the time we were up, people understood what was happening. So it was fascinating to listen to the shifts in understanding.

You might question some of the inclusions. Does the death of John F Kennedy Jr represent an important event as the Challenger explosion? Not really, but the news focus was probably similar and it is representative of our pop culture-obsessed society. Remember all the talk of how we were to be a more serious, non-ironic nation after 9/11? How long did that last?

The book serves mostly to provide context for the audio clips. It is helpful if you don't recall the specifics of the event or didn't experience it, but I suspect most will want to listen to the files and flip through the book. This would make a nice gift for fans of history who want to hear how events were first experienced.

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