Bloody Old Britain: O.G.S. Crawford and the Archaeology of Modern Life by Kitty Hauser

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O. G. S. Crawford (1886–1957) was a man who thought history held the answers to everything, and that to study it was to know humanity’s glorious future. At first a field archaeologist, digging into the mysterious mounds and ditches of rural England, he became a photographer/observer flying over the Western Front during World War I—an experience that taught him the new skills of interpreting the earth from above and made him a pioneer of aerial archaeology. Then he fell in love with Marxism, was befriended by H.G. Wells, and traveled to the Soviet Union as one of its disciples. In the 1930s, it seemed to him that contemporary Britain would soon disappear, conquered by history’s inevitable march to world socialism, and he made a photographic study of everyday things—churches and advertising—as future evidence of how unenlightened British society had once been in its worship of God and the motor car. Later there came angry disillusionment and a book, too bitter to be published, called Bloody Old Britain. In recounting Crawford’s extraordinary story, Kitty Hauser uses many of his photographs—including fascinating undocumented scenes and sites such as anti-fascist graffiti and signs in Berlin and London in the 1930s—and penetrates neglected but fascinating aspects of British life that have themselves become history.

Granta, 2008.
ISBN: 9781862078734. 286 pp.
Hardcover. Fine in a fine jacket.