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Across the Great Divide: The Band and America Paperback – September 1, 2006


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 468 pages
  • Publisher: Hal Leonard; Revised edition (September 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 142341442X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1423414421
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #310,081 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In a saga spanning three decades, British journalist Hoskyns ( From a Whisper to a Scream: The Great Voices of Popular Music ) chronicles the story of the critically acclaimed rock group, the Band. As the 1960s dawned, a shared interest in the music of the American South brought Arkansas drummer-vocalist Levon Helm together with four Canadians: guitarists Robbie Robertson and Rick Danko, vocalist Richard Manuel and keyboardist Garth Hudson. Known as the Hawks, they backed up Bob Dylan after his notorious acoustic-to-electric switch; later, they perfected a style of their own at a Woodstock, N.Y., house dubbed "Big Pink." In 1968, their first album as the Band was released, and subsequent hits included "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down." This account relies heavily on quotations from the likes of critic Greil Marcus, performer Eric Clapton and late promoter Bill Graham. Where-are-they-now final chapters investigate the years after the Band's 1976 split: Robertson pursued Hollywood interests, Manuel committed suicide in 1986 and the others continued solo work. Of the Band's lineup, Robertson proves by far the most loquacious, making this volume a bonanza for his fans in particular, as well as for Dylan aficionados. Photos.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Implicit within the redemptive qualities commonly ascribed to rock'n'roll is the metaphor of the band/musician as leaders in a spiritual search. The hyperbole that typically ensues from such metaphors is entirely appropriate in reference to The Band, the seminal folk/country/rock group whose recordings, made from 1968 to 1978, psychically imprinted an entire generation. That a predominantly Canadian group should have been so transfixed by, and subsequently successful at, articulating deeply rooted American themes is just one of the seeming paradoxes that Hoskyns explores in this first major study. Borrowing heavily from both previously documented and self-conducted interviews, Hoskyns connects the dots that link The Band with Ronnie Hawkins, Bob Dylan, Woodstock, and the concert film The Last Waltz (1978). Cumulatively, the effect of this treatment is ponderous; Greil Marcus's classic essay "The Band: Pilgrims' Progress" in Mystery Train ( LJ 4/1/75), from which Hoskyns liberally borrows, is more revelatory. Still, this solid treatment of an influential group belongs in most popular music collections.
- Barry X. Miller, Austin P.L., Tex.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

A good companion read to Levon's "This Wheels On Fire".
mr. dave
The Band deserve much better than this, and hopefully someday someone will write a much better book about them.
Groove Biscuit
Like "Freebirds," I found the author's writing style to be lacking.
Todd Shelton

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

55 of 62 people found the following review helpful By Mark Cohen on January 4, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is full of blatant and unacceptable inaccuracies. For instance, it has the wrong year for Robbie Robertson's birthday. It plagarizes a quote out of Levon Helm's book (a quote by Levon Helm), paraphrases it inaccurately and attributes it to Robertson. (pg 401). It misstates the name of F.S. Walcotts Rabits Foot Minstrels etc. etc. Quotes are taken from the interviews in the Last Waltz and deceptively placed here as if they were obtained by some research done by the author and again they're not 100% verbatim despite the quotation marks. There is an immense amount of conjecture and unwarranted personal opinion interjected throughout. The inaccuracies completely destroy all credibility of this book. Even Robbie Robertson stated in a Rolling Stone interview that he read the first 30 pages and had to put it away because of all the mistakes. This is a third rate product. There are better books to read to learn about the Band.
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33 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Groove Biscuit on August 14, 2009
Format: Paperback
Unfortunately, this book is a third-rate hack-job, filled with misquotes, wrong information, speculation presented as fact and lots of plain old-fashioned bad writing. The Band deserve much better than this, and hopefully someday someone will write a much better book about them.

Levon Helm's "This Wheel's On Fire" is an infinitely better read, showing Helm's deep South musical upbringing, Levon and Ronnie Hawkins' being inspired as kids by Sonny Boy Williamson and the King Biscuit Flour Time, through their many wild nights on the road as The Hawks, through hitting the big time and working with Dylan, playing at Woodstock, The Last Waltz, etc....

"This Wheel", of course, presents a subjective view. Helm and Robertson, for example, have become completely estranged and Helm's book shows only his side. I was hoping that Hoskyns' book would be a sober balance to "This Wheel,' but I was sorely disappointed. It is so poorly written as to be almost unreadable, and Hoskyns doesn't seem to use a fact-checker or proofreader. He does, however, steal several lengthy quotes from Helm's book without attribution, as well as quoting Greil Marcus repeatedly--while also belittling him. Weird. A 'rare interview' with Robertson, presented as an appendix, is little more than a chance for him to plug a new 5 cd Band compilation. Yawn.

If you're interested in The Band, I recommend reading Helm's vastly superior book, and leaving this disappointing, half-assed attempt alone. Sure, Levon's book is not objective--but it is a great read and paints a vivid, finely detailed portrait of life in The Band.

For the record, I read Hoskyns' "Hotel California" and thought it was pretty good. Not particularly well-written, but passable and provided lots of presumably good information on the whole Laurel Canyon scene.

"Across the Great Divide" just sucked.
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26 of 33 people found the following review helpful By John Matlock on November 13, 2006
Format: Paperback
First written some years ago, this book has long been out of print. Now Hal Leonard has finally issued a new revised and expanded edition. It contains all the information from the original book plus updating the information on the members of the band. This includes an obituary of Rick Danko and a brand-new interview with Robbie Robertson.

With the years that Mr. Hoskyns has put into this book, it is likely to remain the definitive book on 'The Band' and on the early years of rock. The Band pioneered not only music, but many other things. Here were a group of young men that were suddenly thrust into the spotlight. Here was a band that put out two of the most significant albums of our time, and then fell apart.

This book chronicles the interplay between the members of the band that led to their breaking up, it talks about the suicide of Richard Manuel, and of course the life that Rick Danko lived with drugs and pain killers until his fatal heart attack.

This is one of those books that is literally a labor of love by a professional writer of course, but also by a devoted fan.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By M. V. Del Citto on July 16, 2011
Format: Paperback
Finally read this book as it was out of print for a long time. 5 very distinct characters that made up the Band made this an enthralling read. Though I felt that Robbie Robertson was cast as a bit of a villian. The one thing that did come out was that the world is screaming for a biography on Richard Manuel.
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15 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on December 13, 2006
Format: Paperback
George Harrison called The Band 'the best in the history of the universe', and other rock musicians applauded them as well, so it's importantb to note ACROSS THE GREAT DIVIDE: THE BAND AND AMERICA is essential for any in-depth understanding of the group and it's lasting influence on rock music. This revised edition offers a detailed survey of its members, with the new US edition including a postscript, obituary of Rick Danko, and a new interview with Robbie Robertson, among other features.

Diane C. Donovan

California Bookwatch
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21 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Carol on October 1, 2008
Format: Hardcover
The only good parts of this book are those that are taken from--and attributed to--other sources. Then, of course, there are the many passages that were out-and-out lifted without attribution. Hoskyns obviously assumed that everything in print about The Band was accurate, because he even lifted the errors.

A fun exercise: see how many pages you can find that DON'T contain blatant errors. Better yet, see how many PARAGRAPHS you can find that don't.

Hoskyns would love people to think that The Band conspired to not grant him interviews, but that's not the case. The Band was very accessible when Hoskyns was penning this comic book; he just didn't try.
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