- The Rise and Fall of the Political Press in Britain. Vol. 1: The 19th Century by Stephen Koss
Hamish Hamilton, 455 pp, £20.00, May 1981, ISBN 0 241 10561 7
This is the first of two volumes designed to describe the British press and its connection with politics and politicians from 1850 to 1951. It is a formidable task, and one cannot be surprised that it has never hitherto been successfully achieved, though many attempts have been made. Such success as can be found in press historiography during these years lies more in studies of individual newspapers or particular editors than in any synthesis of the whole story. However, the task is not an impossible one. Professor Aspinall’s notable work Politics and the Press (1949) does it for the period 1780 to 1850, and Stephen Koss pays full tribute to his predecessor. Professor Koss is one of the few American historians of the top rank writing about modern British political history (as opposed to pre-revolution English history). He is producing a work which, to judge from Volume I, is likely to be an essential source of information on the subject for many years to come. It is admirably written, with clarity, incisiveness and wit.