Tuesday, May 10, 2016

The Radio Boys and Girls - Guest Post by Ed Sharpe

When I was in Arizona, I was the Book Editor for the Glendale Daily Planet, an online news source. Ed Sharpe is the publisher of the award-winning publication. Today, we turn the tables, and Ed has a review and commentary about The Radio Boys and Girls. Thank you, Ed.


The Radio Boys and Girls: Radio,
Telegraph, Telephone and Wireless
Adventures for Juvenile Readers,
1890-1945 - A View Though Literature
A Review By Ed Sharpe Director and Lead Archivist for  Southwest Museum of Engineering Communications and Computation
 Publisher - Glendale Daily Planet / KKAT-IPTV

Almost everyone remembers the Nancy Drew or the Hardy Boys series books. Some of us with a science bent remember the Tom Swift and Rick Brant series of science adventure series books we read in the 1960s. Rick Brant did not make it to the current era but the Tom Swift science-based adventures continue to be published into the 21st century.

Let's go back in time... There were single issue of stories and also a entire series of books, starting in the late 1800s, where the protagonists solved mysteries and fought bad guys BUT were also using some form of electricity or electrical communications to aid them in their efforts.

The stories had all the attributes of great adventure stories that taught good values and morals, comradeship and loyalty between friends, a chance to learn about other settings.The science and electronics throughout served to provide a starting point  for may young people  that went on to become engineers, inventors and scientists.  The most fun of all - the chance to read about the bad guys getting trounced in the end!

There are entire series of books  such as THE RADIO BOYS  or THE RADIO GIRLS in which wireless or radio was a dominant part of the plot.. There were also juvenile series books in which there were various adventures, but only a volume or a few were electricity or communications related.  One example is THE MOTORBOAT CLUB AND THE WIRELESS by H Irving Hancock.  Another  example is TOM SWIFT AND HIS WIRELESS MESSAGE. Although the pre-1940s Tom Swift books all had  some sort of Gee-Whiz, this particular Tom Swift book, from the first series, is the only one with a plot involving wireless. There was, however, TOM SWIFT AND HIS GIANT MAGNET, which falls under the category of an 'electrical adventure'.

Other examples of single offerings in a series are The HARDY BOYS : SHORTWAVE MYSTERY and THE BOBBSEY TWINS IN A RADIO PLAY.

THE RADIO BOYS AND GIRLS examines more than 50 volumes of electrical, telegraph, telephone, wireless and radio themed fiction. As the time and technology changed, the apparatus and fashions change, but the common thread of good vs evil continued.

Mike Adams, with his involvement in the early history of wireless and radio, is an excellent person to illuminate the history and progression of juvenile series books related to Electricity, Wireless and Radio.

Reading these wonderful stories from the bygone era, the reader is often challenged by some of the slang and terms of the era, while also confronting  language and attitudes that we would now consider politically incorrect.

THE RADIO BOYS AND GIRLS is more complete than any previous published work on the subject. The author relied on his extensive knowledge and also referenced different collections to gather data. In addition, Mike Adams acknowledges help from James Keeline, who is perhaps the foremost expert on Juvenile Series Fiction.

THE RADIO BOYS AND GIRLS hit a warm place in my heart as I have been a lifetime lover of this literature since the time I could first read in the early 60's.

Starting in 4th grade, I discovered  the Tom Swift Jr. series by Victor Appleton and
also the Hardy  Boys by Franklin W. Dixon.  As time went on, and later in my life, especially with my involvement in the SMECC Communications Museum, I discovered more of the vintage juvenile fiction volumes involving technology.

All of these books, for the most part, center around a mythical town with patents that are pretty well off and youth protagonists that have unlimited time for adventure. This scenario set false expectations for me as a youth as I would want to wander off for an adventure far from the house or indulge in the  use of technology or tools my parents did not  think I was ready for. Or even more irritating to them was when I would request scientific apparatus or electronic test equipment that cost  $$$$$.

When my parents would reel me in, back to the reality they figured was appropriate  from my age level and their spending budget, I would  exclaim... "BUT TOM SWIFT GETS TO...."  and their speedy reply was... but... YOU are not Tom Swift, Ed!

 A  few books not mentioned in Adams’  book that I will mention and have enjoyed are THE GIRLS OF RADAR by Roy J. Snell (Goldsmith Pub. 1944) and Sally Scott of the Waves (Lots of radio!) by Roy J. Snell from the 'Fighter for Freedom Series', (Whitman Pub. 1943). These are neat as they are very WWII centered, and the SECRETS OF RADAR was set at a time when RADAR was not publicly discussed!

One other pre-1940 juvenile fiction Tom Swift book dealing with communications that should be noted is TOM SWIFT AND HIS PHOTO TELEPHONE Or, The Picture That Saved a Fortune By Victor Appleton  (Jan 1, 1914).  Yes, a fictional PicturePhone!

Read the book!  You just may start a collection of these wonderful adventure/technical books for yourself!  ---Ed#

The Radio Boys and Girls: Radio, Telegraph, Telephone and Wireless Adventures for Juvenile Readers, 1890-1945, available now from McFarland Publishing.

Print ISBN: 978-1-4766-6354-8
Ebook ISBN: 978-1-4766-2345-0
86 photos, notes, bibliography, index
240pp. softcover (7 x 10) 2016
Price for  print version $39.95

Visit http://radioboysandgirls.org/ to get a bit of visual preview.

The  book is  available  from http://www.mcfarlandbooks.com  -  Order Line  (800) 253-2187
The  book is also available in electronic form.

Visit http://radioboysandgirls.org/ to get a bit of visual preview

Mike Adams has been a radio personality and a film maker. Currently he is professor emeritus of radio, television, and film at San Jose State University, where he has been the department chair and the associate dean of the College of Humanities and the Arts. As a researcher and writer of broadcast and early technology history, he created two award-winning documentaries for PBS, the Emmy-nominated "Radio Collector" series, and "Broadcasting's Forgotten Father." He has had published numerous articles and six books, including Charles Herrold, Inventor of Radio Broadcasting, and Lee de Forest, King of Radio, Television, and Film. His latest book is "The Radio Boys and Girls: Radio, Telegraph, Telephone and Wireless Adventures for Juvenile Readers, 1890-1945." More information about the author and his work can be found at www.mikeadams.org and www.leedeforest.org, www.radioboysandgirls.org, or www.youtube.com/professormikeadams

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