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Will the Circle be Unbroken: Country Music in America

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30 review for Will the Circle be Unbroken: Country Music in America

  1. 4 out of 5

    Dusty

    A couple of months ago, I had to make a split decision about the textbook I would use for the "Rhetoric of Country Music" course I had just had approved. I selected Will the Circle Be Unbroken because it seemed comprehensive, because it was positively reviewed, and because it looked inexpensive: I picked up my copy for less than a dollar (sans shipping) on the Amazon Marketplace. Now, I've had the chance to read the book from front to back, and giving it five stars is as much a testament to its A couple of months ago, I had to make a split decision about the textbook I would use for the "Rhetoric of Country Music" course I had just had approved. I selected Will the Circle Be Unbroken because it seemed comprehensive, because it was positively reviewed, and because it looked inexpensive: I picked up my copy for less than a dollar (sans shipping) on the Amazon Marketplace. Now, I've had the chance to read the book from front to back, and giving it five stars is as much a testament to its quality as it is a sigh of relief. I made the right choice. As the title indicates, the book is a history of country music. It is big and glossy enough to look like a "coffee table book," but editors Paul Kingsbury and Alanna Nash have put together a tome that's worth far more than simply thumbing through. Will the Circle Be Unbroken is a swift and credible history, taking readers from the technological advances and market interests that gave rise to country music in the 1920s to the country pop that has dominated radio stations since the turn of the twenty-first century. The book's chapters break country music's long history into smaller chunks, utilizing timelines to place developments like honky tonk, the Nashville Sound, and neo-traditionalism within their appropriate historical context, and generously spotlighting the most influential artists and recordings. It's only 350 pages, which means some notable names get left out (sorry Barbara Mandrell), but whether or not your favorite artist gets ink here, you will find plenty to help you understand the larger world she or he inhabited. Really, though, I was stunned how briskly and thoroughly it all progressed. If I had to say what sets this particular book above other titles in the increasingly long list of country music histories, I would say it is that is takes full advantage of its contributors' areas of expertise. It is hard to tell what, exactly, Kingsbury and Nash wrote themselves because they are credited so infrequently. Instead, most of the book's chapters, sidebars, lists, and inserts are composed by dozens of the most committed country music historians, journalists, and artists who were still living at the time of the book's publication. I don't mean to imply that the book is a kind of fan-penned love letter to country music--in fact, for a book published by the Country Music Hall of Fame Museum it is admirably critical of certain individuals (Ralph Peer) and technological developments (auto-tune)--but, rather, that it is written by people who are absolute experts in their chosen topics. If I have any complaint about the contributions, it's that the historians and journalists write noticeably better and seem more willing to reflect deeply on the stakes and course of country music. By comparison, the playlists by Brenda Lee, Merle Haggard, and Keith Urban seem shallow and, honestly, kind of boring. The exception is Rosanne Cash, who is equally adept at writing paragraphs and wistful song lyrics. Country music remains alive and (arguably) well today, nearly ten years after Circle's first printing, and it's high time the book were updated and reprinted to capture the field's more recent twists and turns. I guess the real question is whether or not Kingsbury, Nash, and the Country Music Hall of Fame would have any interest in revisiting this project, and there are lots of reasons why they probably wouldn't. Chief among these is the number of other, newer books (like Jocelyn Neal's Country Music: A Cultural and Stylistic History) retelling the story this one had already told so well. Anyway, I am satisfied with this edition for now. My decision-making abilities are vindicated.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Hal

    An encyclopedic overview of the history of country music. Lots of great photos with coverage of a wide variety of genres and detailed looks into major figures. If you enjoy music, history or culture studies you will find this intriguing. Great fun. Put on the Patsy Cline, Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson, Gram Parsons and immerse.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Raganeauchic

    It's like visiting the Country Music Hall of Fame in a book. The graphic design is really awesome. It's like visiting the Country Music Hall of Fame in a book. The graphic design is really awesome.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Naomi Krokowski

    A gorgeous trip through country music up to about 2005. Made me long for better songwriting to be played on country radio but gave me lots of understanding why that's not likely to happen. Well written and fantastic visually! A gorgeous trip through country music up to about 2005. Made me long for better songwriting to be played on country radio but gave me lots of understanding why that's not likely to happen. Well written and fantastic visually!

  5. 4 out of 5

    Ellen

    This might be my favorite textbook ever, as it's a well-done coffee table book with fabulous pictures. This might be my favorite textbook ever, as it's a well-done coffee table book with fabulous pictures.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Chris

    Produced in conjunction with the Country Music Hall of Fame, this book examines the development of this uniquely American musical form. A great resource for musicians of all kinds.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Betsy

  8. 4 out of 5

    Debra McQuiston

  9. 5 out of 5

    Leslie Stuteville

  10. 4 out of 5

    Ian Williams

  11. 4 out of 5

    Karlin

    Great coffee table book for country music fans - covers everyone from merle to shania.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Skip Runge

  13. 4 out of 5

    Desta

  14. 4 out of 5

    Mamone

  15. 5 out of 5

    Stephen

  16. 4 out of 5

    Lanea

  17. 4 out of 5

    Kerri

  18. 4 out of 5

    Richard

  19. 5 out of 5

    Karyn Williams

  20. 5 out of 5

    Ted

  21. 4 out of 5

    Christy

  22. 5 out of 5

    Brendon

  23. 5 out of 5

    Julia

  24. 5 out of 5

    Bethj

  25. 5 out of 5

    Josh Disney

  26. 4 out of 5

    Taylor W. Rushing

  27. 4 out of 5

    Ray

  28. 4 out of 5

    GoodoldEv

  29. 4 out of 5

    W. Tracy Parnell

  30. 4 out of 5

    Josh Doty

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