Book Review: Treason on the Airwaves

The University of Nebraska Press was wonderful enough to send me another book to read and comment on.  Judith Keene’s Treason on the Airwaves:  Three Allied Broadcasters on Axis Radio during World War II initially appealed to me because, well, why wouldn’t it with a title like that?

The author teaches in Australia, and I think it definitely added a worldly attitude toward the topic.  American authors really struggle to approach world events outside of themselves.  This text was free of the basis and American flavor that can distract from solid facts.

I thought Keene established very clear, distinct chapters but to a fault.  There was very little segue and transition between the three case studies.  It also felt like instead of explaining why these three people were particularly important treason cases during World War II, Keene merely illustrated wartime propaganda through these specific individuals.  She could have done so much more with the topic.  That being said, I learned a ton that I hadn’t known before.  Her writing is clear, although I found she made some assumptions with terminology that made it obvious it wasn’t an introductory text.

Keene says on page x of the preface that writing the book “made [her] aware of the strain in the relationship between the individual, the citizen and the nation.”  I loved this quote!  I can’t think of a more succinct way of expressing how it sometimes feels to be part of a military family.  Sometimes it’s difficult to balance your self and your personal wants/opinions/needs with the job and lifestyle.  I’ve heard several people talk out in the bloggity world about being conflicted about wearing peace signs while being a mil spouse for example.  And we’re all told to hold our tongues a bit when it comes to politics because our big boss is the President and whether or not we agree, that’s where our orders are coming from.  As deployments and long work days stack up, even the most dedicated to the military get cranky and want a break.  We’re strained, but we do our best.

I think Keene attempted to show how her three examples were trying to do their best too.  As POWs, they thought they were doing something with their limited means.  Perhaps the individual slice of the pie started to outweigh the citizen and nation slices, or at least that’s how the courts decided.  The circle of individual, citizen, and nation is fluid and continually changing.  I don’t know if the same decision would be made today.  Look at the WikiLeaks guy for instance.

As part of my military history degree, I looked a lot at the relationship of the citizen soldier, and I think Keene’s statement speaks to that a lot too.  Every person is all three entities at once regardless of their connection with the military.  We have the potential and duty to fulfill all roles at some point.  Soldiers and their families have to do that a bit more consciously and way more often, but we are all here working toward a better country and community.

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