Bob Dylan In America by Sean Wilentz

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Synopsis

One of America’s finest historians shows us how Bob Dylan, one of the country’s greatest and most enduring artists, still surprises and moves us after all these years.

Growing up in Greenwich Village, Sean Wilentz discov­ered the music of Bob Dylan as a young teenager; almost half a century later, he revisits Dylan’s work with the skills of an eminent American historian as well as the passion of a fan. Drawn in part from Wilentz’s essays as “historian in residence” of Dylan’s official website, Bob Dylan in America is a unique blend of fact, interpretation, and affinity—a book that, much like its subject, shifts gears and changes shape as the occasion warrants.

Beginning with his explosion onto the scene in 1961, this book follows Dylan as he continues to develop a body of musical and literary work unique in our cultural history. Wilentz’s approach places Dylan’s music in the context of its time, including the early influences of Popular Front ideology and Beat aesthetics, and offers a larger critical appreciation of Dylan as both a song­writer and performer down to the present. Wilentz has had unprecedented access to studio tapes, recording notes, rare photographs, and other materials, all of which allow him to tell Dylan’s story and that of such masterpieces as Blonde on Blonde with an unprecedented authenticity and richness.

Bob Dylan in America—groundbreaking, comprehensive, totally absorbing—is the result of an author and a subject brilliantly met.


From the Hardcover edition.
 

About Sean Wilentz

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SEAN WILENTZ is Sidney and Ruth Lapidus Professor in the American Revolutionary Era at Princeton University. He is the author of The Rise of American Democracy, which received the coveted Bancroft Prize, and, most recently, The Age of Reagan. He has also received a Deems Taylor Award for musical com­mentary and a Grammy nomination for his liner notes to Bootleg Series, Vol. 6: Bob Dylan, Live 1964: The Concert at Philharmonic Hall.
 
Published September 7, 2010 by Anchor. 416 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Humor & Entertainment, Arts & Photography, Political & Social Sciences. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Bob Dylan In America

Kirkus Reviews

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The author is capable of sometimes striking and unexpected insights linking Dylan to American precursors ranging from Abraham Lincoln to Bing Crosby, but his frequently misguided ideas and oft-leaden style weigh down the proceedings.

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The New York Times

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According to “Bob Dylan in America,” there is no aspect of American music that cannot be linked to Bob Dylan, even if Mr. Dylan is not always aware of the connections himself.

Sep 09 2010 | Read Full Review of Bob Dylan In America

The New York Times

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On the other hand, after initially grumbling, I came to appreciate Wilentz’s extended dalliance with the Savannah, Ga., couple whose lethal lover’s quarrel on Christmas Eve 1900 was the seed that, watered by anonymous hands, sprouted into the song “Delia” and its many variants, one of them — the ...

Sep 03 2010 | Read Full Review of Bob Dylan In America

The Guardian

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The problem is that Wilentz must have wanted his conclusions to be more drastic – Copland anticipated Dylan "in ways that help make sense of both men's achievements" – than these discovered coincidences permit.

Sep 12 2010 | Read Full Review of Bob Dylan In America

BC Books

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In Bob Dylan in America Sean Wilentz provides a study of Dylan's influences and source materials and of Dylan himself.

Oct 26 2011 | Read Full Review of Bob Dylan In America

BC Books

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When a skilled historian and music fan decides to write about Bob Dylan's music, he provides an intensive study of influences and source materials that covers quantities of music and literature.

Oct 26 2011 | Read Full Review of Bob Dylan In America

New York Journal of Books

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Sean Wilentz’s Bob Dylan in America is a top-notch, first-class synopsis of Bob Dylan’s career, contributions to popular music, status as a cultural icon, and, to a lesser extent, place in the history of American commentators.A person who is taking their first foray into the legend that is Bob Dy...

Sep 07 2010 | Read Full Review of Bob Dylan In America

AV Club

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Though the Bootleg Series volumes covering the 1964 show and 1975 tour (volumes six and five, respectively) show the music to be pretty flimsy compared to Dylan’s studio work of the time, Wilentz uses them as lenses for strong chapters on Dylan’s place, respectively, in the folk-music world (whic...

Sep 16 2010 | Read Full Review of Bob Dylan In America

Los Angeles Times

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(Who knew that Highway 61, which Dylan's fans regularly revisit along with their artist, runs from Hibbing, Minn., where he grew up, to New Orleans, where he found important musical roots?) Wilentz explores the particular influences — musical and lyrical — that Dylan has sought out for himself a...

Sep 08 2010 | Read Full Review of Bob Dylan In America

Christian Science Monitor

Sean Wilentz's study of enigmatic music icon Bob Dylan is at once a time-hopping biography;

May 22 2011 | Read Full Review of Bob Dylan In America

The New Yorker

Photograph: Allen Ginsberg, Peter Orlovsky, Barbara Rubin, Bob Dylan, and Daniel Kramer backstage at McCarter Theater, in Princeton, New Jersey, September,…

Aug 13 2010 | Read Full Review of Bob Dylan In America

The New York Review of Books

As Wilentz mentions in the introduction to his new book, he first came to write about Dylan when Dissent asked him to review Marcus's book in 1998, and it is an obvious influence on Bob Dylan in America.

Nov 25 2010 | Read Full Review of Bob Dylan In America

New York Magazine

Bob Dylan in America may be an unusually rigorous Dylan book, but “it was easier to do than the others,” he says, “because in effect I’ve been doing the research all my life.” The apartment where Dylan met Ginsberg was just ov...

Aug 22 2010 | Read Full Review of Bob Dylan In America

Project MUSE

Wilentz argues that Copland and Dylan shared “common origins and sensibilities” in their attempts to rescue and renew American folk traditions, which Copland once described as an aesthetic of “imposed simplicity.” Of course, the general point is that this was a much broader cultural effort and th...

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truthdig

At the April 14 Brooklyn debate, CNN’s Dana Bash pressed Clinton on her refusal to release the transcripts—and Bash stayed on the point even as Clinton tried to equate the secret speeches to Bernie Sanders’ then-unreleased tax returns.

Aug 15 2016 | Read Full Review of Bob Dylan In America

truthdig

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Dec 22 2011 | Read Full Review of Bob Dylan In America

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