Punk Revolution!: An Oral History of Punk Rock Politics and Activism

Rowman & Littlefield. Jun. 2023. 360p. ISBN 9781538171721. $34. MUSIC
Musician/activist/filmmaker/photographer/journalist Malkin (Sounds of Freedom) conducted more than 140 interviews with musicians and influencers from the 1970s to the present for this oral history of punk rock. This book examines the roots of activism in punk and explores the genre beyond its reach in the U.S. and the UK. Regarding nods to feminism and race in punk, however, it lacks a strong history and critique. The book pulls from interviews with members of bands such as Bad Religion, Crass, Dead Kennedys, Gang of Four, and Sex Pistols. The author also talks to Noam Chomsky, Kalle Lasn, Keith McHenry, Marjane Satrapi, Laurie Anderson, and Kenneth Jarecke about punk’s impact. Although there is a wide range of interviews and stories that will attract readers interested in punk or who are fans of the bands addressed in the book, the book disappointingly focuses on a few of the main interviewees—specifically Johnny Lydon and Jello Biafra—and does not share the depth and range that could potentially come from the extensive collection of interviews.
VERDICT Malkin’s book will be of interest to many, but it is not the sweeping, nuanced history that punk deserves.
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