Everyone knows the story of the Delta blues, with its fierce, raw voices and tormented drifters and deals with the devil at the crossroads at midnight. In this compelling book, Marybeth Hamilton radically rewrites that story.
Archaic and primeval though the music may sound, the idea of something called 'Delta blues' emerged in the late twentieth century, the culmination of a longstanding white fascination with 'uncorrupted' black singers, untainted by the city, by commerce, by the sights and sounds of modernity.
Written with exquisite grace and sensitivity, at once historically acute and hauntingly poetic, the book is an extraordinary excavation of the blues mystique and provides a deeper understanding of the place of blues within wider American culture.
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Fascinating... Hamilton's book deserves to be read, particularly by those who think they've read it all before. In future, all searches for the blues must start here - Sunday Times
Provocatively entertaining...Assiduously researched and beautifully written, what this book reminds us is that the blues has always meant something quite different to white audiences than to black ones - Daily Telegraph
Iconoclastic... Marybeth Hamilton proves herself a fine and sensitive detective... It shakes the foundation myth of so much music that followed, as well as explaining a great deal about what it is to be a record collector, itself a dying calling in the age of the iPod - Observer
An important and often beautifully written piece of historical revisionism - Observer Music Monthly
Hamilton has a keen, unforgiving eye...an eloquent book about people making the forgotten important - Time Out
Hamilton's outstanding book profiles the folklorists and collectors who shaped the concept of Delta blues... A plausible and provocative book. And it has transformed my view of the blues - Financial Times
Hamilton tells such a good story that she turns a work of scholarship into a page-turner - Times Literary Supplement
Hamilton has done a good job of researching a subject that blues fans will find fascinating - Prospect
Evocative and engaging - Sunday Telegraph
About the Author
Marybeth Hamilton was born in California and teaches American history at Birkbeck College, University of London. She is the author of When I'm Bad, I'm Better: Mae West, Sex and American Entertainment.