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Book Review:
Ham Radio's Technical Culture
by Kristen Haring
published by MIT Press, 2007

reviewed by Frank Etzler, N8WXQ

Ham Radio's Technical Culture is written in the style of a scholarly work. The scholarship of the author, Kristen Haring, is, however, extremely poor, and her ignorance of radio and radio amateurs is great. The book will be offensive to some. The book is based on reading back issues of QST from the 1950s and 1960s, and not speaking directly with radio amateurs or attending the larger hamfests in order to see the full scope of amateur radio. Because of QST's understandable focus on American amateur radio, the author has failed to see amateur radio as a worldwide phenomenon. Our fellow hams in Japan, for instance, are largely Japanese, and not Americans.

Radio amateurs come from society in general, and amateurs reflect the full political and social spectrum. On average, radio amateurs are a little smarter, have a bit more income, and are better educated that the general population, but they do reflect society in general - even sometimes the less attractive aspects. The author might lead some to think that radio amateurs are a bunch of racist, sexist, xenophobic, and drunken fellows. Some of the references to homosexuality are outright bizarre. On average - and this should be the point of such a book - radio amateurs have educated themselves on emerging communications technology, learned a bit of technical history, and lerned a bit of geography. Radio amateurs have simultaneously given service back to society in a variety of ways, including (but not limited to) public assistance in times of emergency, and scientific advances, such as SETI. All people of reasonably good character are welcomed into the amateur radio community.

Ham Radio's Technical Culture could have been a great book; unfortunately, it is not. In some instances it seems to reflect the neuroses of the author and not the amateur radio community. There is a plethora of other books concerning radio, radio history, and amateur radio. Money would be better spent on these. I am sorry that I wasted mine.

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