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It Ain't No Sin To Be Glad You're Alive: The Promise of Bruce Springsteen Paperback – August 9, 2001


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Back Bay Books (August 9, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316039179
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316039178
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 5 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,483,621 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Eric Alterman is a columnist for The Nation and NSNBC. He is a contributor to Rolling Stone, Elle, Vanity Fair, The New York Times and The Washington Post.

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

57 of 58 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 30, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I just finished reading Eric Alterman's brand new book on Bruce Springsteen, entitled "It Ain't No Sin To Be Glad You're Alive -- The Promise of Bruce Springsteen," and I can safely say it is a very solid, well-researched, and thoughtful book. The book is definitely a worthy read.
Alterman's book is not so much a biography (which in many ways it is), as much as it is a substantive and interesting look at Springsteen's artistic work and productive career. As a result, the reader gets an insightful feel for where Springsteen fits in the grand scheme of American history and pop culture, as well as a meaningful human portrait of a rock 'n' roll icon.
Most of the book is devoted to conceptual and thematic interpretations of Bruce's albums and songs. However, to avoid purely subjective analysis, Alterman intelligently talks about the political and social times under which these albums were released. This has the overall effect of bringing Springsteen's work ALIVE for the reader and giving him or her the proper context to more fully understand what Bruce was striving for at that point in his career. All the while, there are biographic facts and stories interspersed which helps put flesh and life on the subject. In other words, when you read about Springsteen in Alterman's book you feel like you're actually reading about another human being, not some aloof and detached celebrity.
Alterman is also very fair in his writing. He talks about the legendary triumphs of Born to Run and Nebraska, as well as the artistic struggles and 2nd-rate nature of much of the Human Touch material.
The best element of this book is the human portrait of Bruce Springsteen that emerges.
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39 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Gary C. Nelson on November 22, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Eric Alterman, a Springsteen fan himself, writes with insight and sympathy for Bruce Springsteen, a man who, despite his wealth and success, is still trying to figure himself out and be honest to his core values. Springsteen is trying to be the conscience of America while also it's best concert entertainer backed by the best band in the land. No mean task! No wonder he's such a perfectionist. As other books have implied, Eric Alterman leaves me feeling that Bruce makes all of his fans better for helping them keep in touch with the better angels of their nature. This book will only increase the reader's appreciation for Bruce Springsteen, the man and his art.
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 16, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I was excited when I learned on the internet that this book was going to be released. Eric Alterman does a great job gathering an enormous amount of information, which he uses to put the reader in the room with Bruce. From the John Hammond audition, to the many late nights in the studio trying to perfect an album, to the night Mr. Alterman got to meet his hero, the reader is right in the middle of it all. Along with this, Alterman sprinkles in personal stories of sacrificing anything to get to see Bruce in concert. Any true fan knows what he is talking about and can relate to his love of Springsteen and his music. The book was so well written that it will cause me to research other things that Alterman has done. Feel free to send me your comments, or if you want a Bruce fan to chat with.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 26, 1999
Format: Hardcover
"If a body catch a body comin' through the rye" Holden Caulfield would have loved Bruce Springsteen. He's no phony (to us or himself) and Alterman captures that so well.
Bruce has the same frailties that we have, which endears him all the more. My parents died several years ago and the home we grew up in was sold. I found myself driving out of my way to go past the old home without really knowing why. Alterman gives an insight into Bruce having the same unconscious habit that has given me something to think about regarding my own past.
I could not put this book down. There is a lot of human insight in this book that non-fans could even connect with. Alterman knows his subject. It's a great story and my next book is a letdown already.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 2, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This is a really fun book for someone (like me) who both makes a living working in and writing about politics and who has spent more time than I normally would like to admit listening to the Boss. What's most compelling is Alterman's tracing (in a NOT academic way) Bruce's various views of community. He's picked up several Springsteen references to his nation of fans as an "imagined community", words taken almost directly from Benedict Anderson's book about nationalism that bears the same title.
I have one small reason for not giving this book a fifth star. I would have hoped that a writer of such talent in indentifying various bodies of thought would have been able to secure an interview with Springsteen. Much of this book demands comment from the Boss -- such as hearing what our self-taught muse has read that has influenced him. Occassional comments in other interviews or in concert monologues is an odd way to assemble his thought ... more akin to writing about a dead president than the living king of rock.
Or the quintessentially American tension in his music between rebellion and responsibility. Most rock artists (other than say Dylan) have avoided taking it on directly in their lyrics. What does this say about the limits of Rock as an art form? I want to know what the Boss thinks.
A draft of this manuscript certainly should have been worthy of getting a few hours of Springsteen's time so that he could speak more directly about his ideas. And if Alterman did try to do this and failed, that in itself is a story worth telling.
Still, a really fun read. I read it in two sittings.
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