The Impact of Expatriate Publishers in Britain and America in the 20th Century
In the first third of the twentieth century, the publishing industry in the United Kingdom and the United States was marked by well-established and comfortable traditions pursued by family-dominated firms. The British trade was the preserve of self-satisfied men entirely certain of their superiority in the world of letters; their counterparts in North America were blissfully unaware of development and trends outside their borders. In this unique historical analysis, Richard Abel and Gordon Graham show how publishing evolved post-World War II to embrace a different, more culturally inclusive, vision.
Unfortunately, even among the learned classes, only a handful clearly understood either the nature or the likely consequences of the mounting geopolitical tensions that gripped pre-war Europe. The world was largely caught up in the ill-informed and unexamined but widely held smug and shallow belief that the huge price paid in "the war to end all wars" had purchased perpetual peace, a peace to be maintained by the numerous, post-war high-minded treaties ceremoniously signed thereafter.
The history presented here has as its principals a handful of those who fled to the Anglo-Saxon shores in the pre-World War II era. The remainder made their way to Britain and the United States following that war. They brought an entirely new vision of and energetic pursuit of the cultural role of the book and journal in a society, a vision which was quickly adopted and naturalized by a perspicacious band of post-war native-born book people.
"In bringing together these important essays, and in topping and tailing them with significant contributions of their own, Richard Abel and Gordon Graham have done us a service. It is precisely because they are presented together that we can see how these men and women so profoundly influenced the development of so many sectors of the publishing industry in the second half of the 20th century."
— John Feather, professor, Loughborough University
"This is an important book but only if it is read, not to remember these pioneering and daring publishers, but so that we won't forget them and what they achieved. I have no doubt that if these great people were still alive (a couple of them are), they would be exploiting the Internet and eBooks and all of the opportunities that this digital/electronic medium offers, but they would not abandon the printed book and journal. They lived and thrived at a time when we desperately needed them, whether we knew it or not, and reading these various essays and remembrances makes me glad that our lives and careers overlapped enough for me to say that I was, for a brief while, a small part of a chapter in publishing, librarianship, and bookselling that is all but over but not forgotten."
—Against the Grain, November 2009