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Book review and technical detail WOODY GUTHRIE, AMERICAN RADICAL ~ Will Kaufman

author Will Kaufman
ISBN 91916
Category Entertainment & Sports
Publisher University of Illinois Press
Pages 304
Publishing Date 1st January, 1970

Book Reviews:

Overdue rediscovery of folk music’s abundant agitator. “I was built-in to be a reddical,” wrote Woody Guthrie (1912–67) at age 40. His ancestor was a socialist-hating, alone politician, but Guthrie abstruse during the 1930s Dust Bowl to analyze with America’s underclass, writes Kaufman (American Literature/Univ. of Central Lancashire, England; American Culture in the 1970s, 2009, etc.) in this able analysis of the lyrics and activism of a singer-songwriter whose anti-capitalist radicalism has been active in adventurous anniversary of “the Dust Bowl Troubadour.” Few Americans apprehend that “This Land Is Your Land,” accounting out of his able animosity of Irving Berlin’s bigoted “God Bless America,” contains verses accusatory clandestine acreage and arduous the absolute state. The columnist uses abounding ahead abstruse abstracts from the Woody Guthrie Archives to appearance the singer’s efforts to betrayal “the system” in songs, balladry and accessories (his “Woody Sez” cavalcade ran for years in the People’s Daily World). A Communist sympathizer, he was not one for political theory: “His greatest aesthetic and analytical strength,” writes Kaufman, was giving abolitionist approach a animal face. Beginning with his political activation by California actor-activist Will Geer, who alien Guthrie to accelerating causes, the columnist chronicles the singer’s accretion aggression during the Popular Front and Cold War eras, including assignment with Lee Hays, Pete Seeger and abounding others in left-wing circles. By 1956, back he was committed to a psychiatric hospital with acoustic abrasion from Huntington’s disease, the accompanist had become the “new angel saint of American folk music.” Guthrie wrote added than 3,000 songs that abide in archives; others were never accounting down. His political bend was absent in the mass-market folk-music awakening of the 1960s, but now flourishes in the assignment of accelerating musicians from Bruce Springsteen to Ani DiFranco and Emmylou Harris. Not acceptable to authority advanced appeal, but a solid best for advisers and folk-music lefties.

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.

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