This compelling, wide-ranging and hugely ambitious book offers, for the first time ever, an integrated history of the culture produced and consumed by Europeans since 1800, and follows its transformation from an elite activity to a mass market - from lending libraries to the internet, from the first public concerts to music downloads.
In itself a cultural tour de force, the book covers high and low culture, readers and writers, audiences and prima donnas, Rossini and hip hop, Verdi and the Beatles, Zola and Tintin, Walter Scott and Jules Verne, the serialised novel of the nineteenth century as well as Dallas and Coronation Street. Included in its vast scope are fairy tales, best-sellers, crime and sci-fi, non-fiction, magazines, newspapers, comic strips, plays, opera, musicals, pop music, sound recording, films, documentaries, radio and television.
A continent-wide survey, this majestic work includes discussions of rock music under communism, Polish and Danish bestsellers, French melodramas and German cabarets, fascist and Soviet cinema. It examines the ways culture travels - how it is produced, transformed, adapted, absorbed, sold and consumed; how it is shaped by audiences and politics, and controlled by laws and conventional morality; why some countries excel in particular genres. It examines the anxiety and attraction felt by Europeans towards American culture, and asks to what extent European culture has become Americanised.
Stylishly written, devoid of jargon, this is global non-fiction narrative at its best.