Across the Waves

How the United States and France Shaped the International Age of Radio
Author: Derek W. Vaillant
The static-filled history of a pioneering radio partnership between two nations
Cloth – $110
Paper – $29.95
eBook – $14.95
Publication Date
Paperback: 11/13/2017
Cloth: 11/13/2017
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About the Book

In 1931, the United States and France embarked on a broadcasting partnership built around radio. Over time, the transatlantic sonic alliance came to personify and to shape American-French relations in an era of increased global media production and distribution.

Drawing on a broad range of American and French archives, Derek Vaillant joins textual and aural materials with original data analytics and maps to illuminate U.S.-French broadcasting's political and cultural development. Vaillant focuses on the period from 1931 until France dismantled its state media system in 1974. His analysis examines mobile actors, circulating programs, and shifting institutions that shaped international radio's use in times of war and peace. He explores the extraordinary achievements, the miscommunications and failures, and the limits of cooperation between America and France as they shaped a new media environment. Throughout, Vaillant explains how radio's power as an instantaneous mass communications tool produced, legitimized, and circulated various notions of states, cultures, ideologies, and peoples as superior or inferior.

A first comparative history of its subject, Across the Waves provocatively examines how different strategic agendas, aesthetic aims and technical systems shaped U.S.-French broadcasting and the cultural politics linking the United States and France.

* Open Access Edition funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

About the Author

Derek W. Vaillant is a professor of communication studies and professor of history, by courtesy, at the University of Michigan. He is the author of Sounds of Reform: Progressivism and Music in Chicago, 1873-1935.


"Well researched and readable. . . Recommended."--Choice

"Vaillant's text is outstanding. The research and reporting are carefully and professionally done, the supporting data enlightening and the story interesting. . . . Across the Waves makes a significant contribution to international media scholarship."--American Journalism

"Across the Waves is well argued, thoroughly researched, and culturally conversant." --The Journal of American History

"The book is broad in scope and significance and is well-researched and well-written." --European Journal of Communication

"Across the Waves...informs radio history with a new and important contribution." --Journal of Communication

"A historian at heart, Vaillant provides his readers with the cultural and political depth to better understand the necessary cross-border collaborations that led to the acceleration of cultural exchanges across the Atlantic throughout the twentieth century." --American Studies

"Articulating different levels of perspectives and theoretical approaches, the various contributions enrich the understanding of the subject and suggest new horizons of research that are useful for future works, including beyond the scope of the anglophone academic field." --Radio Journal

"A well-written piece of historical analysis, and the author manages to tie together an enjoyable writing style with scholarly rigour and a complex conceptual framework." --Historical Journal of Film, Radio, and Television

"The atmospheric way Vaillant brings radio to us in this book should be nothing short of highly commended." --EuropeNow


"Derek Vaillant has written an invaluable account of the lively interactive relationship between French and American radio broadcasting. Its historical sweep, deep research, and illuminating conceptual framework make it à ne pas manquer for anyone interested in one of the twentieth century’s closest yet most tempestuous cultural relationships."--Michele Hilmes, author of Network Nations: A Transnational History of British and American Broadcasting

"Vaillant's stimulating analysis of a neglected dimension of transatlantic broadcasting brilliantly captures the dynamic interplay of international relations, technological change, and textual innovation, and sheds new light on the place of American radio in the global media landscape of the twentieth century."—Kate Lacey, author of Listening Publics: The Politics and Experience of Listening in the Media Age