Growing up in Greenwich Village in the 1960s Sean Wilentz discovered the music of Bob Dylan as a young teenager. Almost half a century later, now a distinguished professor of American history, he revisits Dylan's work with the critical skills of a scholar and the passion of a fan.
Drawing partly on his work as the current historian-in-residence on Dylan's official website, Sean Wilentz provides a unique blend of biography, memoir and anlysis in a book which, much like its subject, shifts gears and changes shape as the occasion demands.
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A panoramic vision of Bob Dylan, his music, his shifting place in American culture, from multiple angles. In fact, reading Sean Wilentz' Bob Dylan in America is as thrilling and surprising as listening to a great Dylan song -
Among those who write regularly about Dylan, Wilentz possesses the rare virtues of modesty, nuance and lucidity. If I may extend the Moby-Dick metaphor just a little here, Wilentz is a whale watcher rather than a whale hunter. He is content to observe rather than possess - Scotland on Sunday
Wilentz combines his deep musical knowledge with the skills of a fine historian to write one of the most important, insightful and revelatory books about America, its culture and its people as interpreted through the works of one of its greatest artists - Irish Times
All the American connections that Wilentz draws to explain the appearance of Dylan's music are fascinating, particularly at the outset the connection to Aaron Copland. The writing is strong, the thinking is strong - the book is dense and strong everywhere you look -
Bob Dylan in America is vital reading - Literary Review
Fascinating - Observer
Wilentz is at his best... From the shelves full of Dylan books this and one other...are the ones to read. This is also one to look at - Sunday Times
Sean Wilentz makes us think about Bob Dylan's half-century of work in new ways. Combining a scholar's depth with a sense of mischief appropriate to the subject, Wilentz hears new associations in famous songs and sends us back to listen to Dylan's less familiar music with fresh insights. By focusing on the parts of Dylan's canon that most move him, Wilentz getsstraight to the heart of the matter. If you thought there was nothing new to say about Bob Dylan's impact on America, this book will make you think twice -
Sean Wilentz's beautiful book sets a new standard for the cultural history of popular music in America -
Unlike so many Dylan-writer-wannabes and phony 'encyclopedia' compilers, Sean Wilentz makes me feel he was in the room when he chronicles events that I participated in. Finally a breath of fresh words founded in hardcore, intelligent research -
Writing about Bob Dylan's music, and fitting it into the great crazy quilt of American culture, Sean Wilentz sews a whole new critical fabric, part history, part close analysis, and all heart. What he writes, as well as anyone ever has, helps us enlarge Dylan's music by reckoning its roots, its influences, its allusive spiritual contours -
It throws up a wealth of unexpected connections. - Spectator, Christmas round up
Did you know Bob Dylan loves Eileen Aroon? One of the many facts in Bob Dylan in America. - Irish Times, Christmas round up
The result is a broad and brilliantly illuminating appreciation of Dylan as both performer and songwriter up to the present day - Belfast News Letter
About the Author
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.