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Which Side Are You On? 20th Century American History in 100 Protest Songs

Oxford Univ. Jan. 2019. 240p. photos. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780190660307. $24.95. MUSIC
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Treating protest songs thematically, journalist Sullivan (Seven Dirty Words: The Life and Crimes of George Carlin) provides rich context for both well-known and more obscure musical contributions to the American experience, from the Civil War to the present, thus exceeding the boundaries of the subtitle. Moving through a panorama of artists and historical figures, the author traces the origin of the songs and their subsequent usages, with selected quotes from performers and influential people surrounding them. In between, he addresses a host of other songs, distinguishing the main ones through bold-faced print. Each chapter is headed with a relevant photo; the bibliography includes both classic and more recent sources.
VERDICT Sullivan's fluid prose and attention to detail serve him admirably in this engaging title, which should awaken nostalgia in those of a certain age and introduce new generations to these musical catalysts for social change.—Barry Zaslow, Miami Univ. Libs., Oxford, OH
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