Woody Guthrie, American Radical by Will Kaufman
(Music in American Life)

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Woody Guthrie, American Radical reclaims the politically radical profile of America's greatest balladeer. Although he achieved a host of national honors and adorns US postage stamps, and although his song "This Land Is Your Land" is often considered the nation's second national anthem, Woody Guthrie committed his life to the radical struggle. Will Kaufman traces Guthrie's political awakening and activism throughout the Great Depression, World War II, the Cold War, the Korean War, the Civil Rights struggle, and the poison of McCarthyism. He examines Guthrie's role in the development of a workers' culture in the context of radical activism spearheaded by the Communist Party of the USA, the Popular Front, and the Congress of Industrial Organizations. Kaufman also establishes Guthrie's significance in the perpetuation of cultural front objectives into the era of the "New Left" and beyond, particularly through his influence on the American and international protest song movement. Utilizing a wealth of previously unseen archival materials such as letters, song lyrics, essays, personal reflections, and other manuscripts, Woody Guthrie, American Radical introduces a heretofore unknown Woody Guthrie: the canny political strategist, fitful thinker, and cultural front activist practically buried in the general public's romantic celebration of the "Dust Bowl Troubadour." A portion of the royalties from the sales of this book will be donated to the Woody Guthrie Foundation.

About Will Kaufman

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Will Kaufman is a professor of American literature and culture at the University of Central Lancashire, England. He is the author of three previous books, most recently American Culture in the 1970s. Also a professional folksinger and multi-instrumentalist, he has performed hundreds of musical presentations on Woody Guthrie at universities, music festivals, and folk clubs throughout Europe and the United States.
Published March 8, 2011 by University of Illinois Press. 304 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Political & Social Sciences, Humor & Entertainment.

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“I was born to be a reddical,” wrote Woody Guthrie (1912–67) at age 40.

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Peekskill became, the author writes, “the crucible in which anticommunism bled into racism as the dominant expression of American postwar reaction.” This is just one example of how Kaufman uses Guthrie’s political concerns to paint a larger canvas while never becoming mired in the politics of per...

May 04 2011 | Read Full Review of Woody Guthrie, American Radic...

Englewood Review of Books

In some ways, simply being a folk musician is itself a radical act, but the new book Woody Guthrie, American Radical by Will Kaufman explores in great detail the radical aspects of Woody Guthrie’s life and songwriting.

Jun 17 2011 | Read Full Review of Woody Guthrie, American Radic...

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