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Book Review
Treason on the Airwaves

image of Treason on the Airwaves jacket

Treason on the Airwaves
by Judith Keene

Judith Keene from the University of Sydney recently released an excellent book about three Allied broadcasters on Axis Radio during World War II.

We strongly recommend this book for everyone interested in understanding how AFRS radio developed in the Pacific as a counterpoint to the successful propaganda broadcasts coming from Radio Tokyo.

Judith takes us on a well researched journey inside Radio Tokyo during World War II as she explores the emergence of 'Tokyo Rose' and how the popular 2GB Sydney announcer Charles Cousens, then a Japanese POW, took command of the English language broadcasts.

She also carefully reviews the entire broadcasting scene in Asia and the Pacific after 1941, putting the broadcasts, and the broadcasters themselves, in full context of the situation being faced at the time.

This is the key to understanding why the American and Australian authorities embarked on bitter and long drawn out treason charge campaigns against Iva Toguri [later pardoned] and Cousens [the case against him collapsed] after the end of the war.

On the other hand, John Amery, the British broadcaster from various occupied European capitals and Berlin was quickly found guilty of and hung for treason. His high profile family connections failed to save his life.

In each case, Judith lays out the facts, the circumstances of the treason charges and trials, examines the personalities and character flaws of the three broadcasters, the honesty of the prosecutors, and comes to a chilling conclusion that serves as a warning even today.

Hundreds of Allied POW's and those caught on the wrong side of a border during World War II also broadcast for the Axis. There was no one Tokyo Rose.

This book asks why these three people were singled out for retribution whilst hundreds of others who did no less were often decorated or allowed to fade into obscurity and rebuild their lives. The answer is disturbing.

You can read more about these broadcasts in our popular features 'Radio Tokyo at War' and 'Tokyo Rose Broadcasts'.


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