Heroes and Villains by David Hajdu
Essays on Music, Movies, Comics, and Culture

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Synopsis

Heroes and Villains is the first collection of essays by David Hajdu, award-winning author of The Ten-Cent Plague, Positively 4th Street, and Lush Life. Eclectic and controversial, Hajdu’s essays take on topics as varied as pop music, jazz, the avant-garde,
comic books, and our downloading culture. The heart of Heroes and Villains is an extraordinary new piece of cultural rediscovery, original to this book. It tells the untold story of one of the most important—and, ultimately, one of the most tragic—figures in American popular music, Billy Eckstine. Through exhaustive new research, Hajdu shows how this great, forgotten singer, once more popular than Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby, transformed American music by combining sex appeal, sophistication, and black machismo—in the era of segregation. The cost, for Eckstine, was his career—and nearly his life.

Other essays in this expansive book deal with topical and surprising subjects like Beyoncé, Bobby Darin, Kanye West, Marjane Satrapi, Woody Guthrie, Will Eisner, the White Stripes, Elmer Fudd, Elvis Costello, Harry Partch, Ray Charles, Joni Mitchell, and more.

 

About David Hajdu

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David Hajdu is the music critic for The New Republic and the author of The Ten-Cent Plague, Positively 4th Street, and Lush Life. He is a professor at the Columbia University School of Journalism, and he lives in New York City.
 
Published October 6, 2009 by Da Capo Press. 354 pages
Genres: Political & Social Sciences, Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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In Ken Burns’s documentary on jazz, for example, Hajdu detects “subtle hints of racism and anti-Semitism,” and he feels the music of Philip Glass can be “frigid.” Hajdu is harsh when he needs to be—he declares that there are “four thousand holes” in a recent biography of John Lennon—and is often ...

Sep 01 2009 | Read Full Review of Heroes and Villains: Essays o...

Publishers Weekly

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Positively 4th Street) combines the cutting candor of Lester Bangs and the measured and judicious cultural learning of Lionel Trilling as he takes aim at subjects ranging widely from jazz, rock and country music and cartoon characters like Elmer Fudd to broader cultural topics such as blogging, M...

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The Globe and Mail

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I don't ordinarily review collections of essays, especially collections of previously published essays, but I don't want to miss the chance to tell readers just how interesting and accomplished a cultural critic David Hajdu is, and this, his first collection, is as good a place to begin as any.

Nov 19 2009 | Read Full Review of Heroes and Villains: Essays o...

Under the Radar

Though he's widely known for The Ten Cent Plague, his 2008 book on the U.S. government's 1950s war on comics, David Hajdu has long been a music critic for The New Republic.

Feb 19 2010 | Read Full Review of Heroes and Villains: Essays o...

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