Tuesday, September 14, 2010

New book "Bob Dylan in America" by Sean Wilentz, the acclaimed historian who runs Dylan's website

“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.” -Al Kooper

With BOB DYLAN IN AMERICA(just out on Doubleday) Sean Wilentz, one of America’s finest historians, shows us how Bob Dylan, one of America’s greatest and most enduring artists, still surprises and moves us after all these years.

Sean Wilentz is the ‘historian-in-residence’ for Bob Dylan’s official website. In addition, Wilentz is a Pulitzer-prize finalist, a Bancroft Prize winner, a Grammy award nominated liner-notes writer, and a noted historian and professor at Princeton University. 

With unprecedented access to Dylan’s working tapes, recording notes, rare photographs and other key materials, Wilentz has written a comprehensive account of Dylan’s life and music and its influence on American culture.

Beginning with his explosion onto the scene in 1961, BOB DYLAN IN AMERICA follows Dylan as he continues to develop a body of musical and literary work unique in our cultural history.  Wilentz’s approach places Dylan’s music in the context of its time, including the early influences of Popular Front ideology and Beat aesthetics, and offers a larger critical appreciation of Dylan as both a song­writer and performer.  Wilentz tells Dylan’s story and that of such masterpieces as Blonde on Blonde with an unprecedented authenticity and richness.

BOB DYLAN IN AMERICA  also chronicles Wilentz’s strange, interrupted, and lucky connection to Dylan and his work.  Sean Wilentz’s family owned the 8th Street Bookshop in Greenwich Village, which served as a cultural staple during the heyday of the beat writers and Dylan’s hip folk club scene.  In fact, Bob Dylan met Allen Ginsberg in Sean’s uncle’s apartment above the shop. Thus, Wilentz and Dylan’s paths crossed early on and led to Sean’s lifelong interest and fascination with Dylan’s work.  With BOB DYLAN IN AMERICA, Wilentz charts Dylan’s life and music from those early days in Greenwich Village up until the present.

Wilentz’s essays offer a broad appreciation of Dylan’s art and performances in the key periods of his career.  BOB DYLAN IN AMERICA—groundbreaking, thorough, totally absorbing—is the result of an author and a subject brilliantly met.

“A panoramic vision of Bob Dylan, his music, his shifting place in American culture, from multiple angles.  In fact, reading Sean Wilentz’s Bob Dylan in America is as thrilling and surprising as listening to a great Dylan song.” —Martin Scorsese

“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.” —Philip Roth

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