Book Review – Wes Schum: Amateur Radio’s Unsung Hero by Dominic (Nick) Tusa as originally published by Charles Keller on schulmanauction.com.
Published On: March 21st, 2023
By Charles Keller (KFØCOM)
Like many areas and aspects of history, science and technology are most often remembered and discussed in the broadest terms. This is partially due to the depth of the subject matter and the likelihood that the average reader will lack a technical frame of reference for the underlying concepts and nuances. As a result of this broad-sweep approach, important individuals will inevitably be glossed over or pivotal events will appear underrepresented. Certainly, the amateur radio hobby is part of the history of science and technology and absolutely prone to this scenario.
As a fairly newly minted Extra class Ham and historian with a much older academic degree, my ongoing education in this hobby has consisted of learning both technical aspects and the developmental history of it all, side by side. These days, we almost take single-sideband communications for granted, and I honestly hadn’t thought much about the development of SSB technology until Dominic Tusa published this book.
The author’s folky and unpretentious prose is not what I’m used to seeing in historical texts, yet it has a charm that fits the subject nicely. A good portion of the book is biographical, tracing Schum’s life through the Second World War and into his postwar military and civilian professional service.
The technical aspects covered seem perfectly adapted to the average amateur’s understanding of the technology. Older Hams will likely most appreciate Tusa’s inclusion of the technical approach taken by Schum, yet I think it is presented in a way younger or less technically inclined Hams will not feel the need to skip.
Apart from the excellent overview of SSB development, I enjoyed the fact the author stressed the initial resistance to single sideband technology by the older Hams of the time – when AM was king. We see the very same attitudes surface in discussions about newer modes like FT8, Fusion, etc. The lesson is not a lot has changed in human nature over the years.
The author kept illustrations, photographs, and facsimiles to a minimum either through choice or because there just wasn’t much available, but what is present is very good indeed. There’s a section of appendices at the end which are quite interesting and include an overview of modulation schemes, facsimiles of early correspondence, and a nice set of definitions.
Wes Schum: Amateur Radio’s Unsung Hero definitely deserves a place on every history-loving Ham’s bookshelves!
For more information see jancarolpublishing.com